Topic: My Feelings [December 5, 2016]
Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation. — Romans 10:9-10
“But I can’t help the way I feel,” Angie moaned.
Most of us hear this statement often. It means that the way the person feels is settled, and they believe they have to go with those feelings. It’s like an unchallenged fact of life.
We have feelings, and sometimes they are strong, but we get confused. We allow our feelings to determine our decisions and, ultimately, our destiny. With that type of mindset, it means that if we feel discouraged, we are discouraged; if we feel victorious, we are victorious. It means that if we feel depressed, we must be depressed.
Someone once said, “My feelings are emotions; they are not reality.” In other words, just because we feel a certain way doesn’t make that feeling a fact. It only means that we feel that way. We must learn to press past our feelings.
Perhaps an example will help. Janet sells real estate, and when she makes a sale, she feels wonderful and successful. Last month she sold five upscale homes and made an excellent commission. This month she has sold only one, and she feels as if she’s a failure. Is Janet a failure? No. It’s just that on dark days, she feels that way; but that doesn’t mean it’s true.
Today I may not feel God at work in my life. But is that true, or is that the way I feel? I know many people who don’t feel loved by God—that’s how they feel, but it isn’t the truth.
The devil gains a stronghold in this area. If he can convince us that our feelings are reality, he has made great progress, and we are easily defeated.
Years ago, I spoke in a church, and many people came up to me to tell me how my message had encouraged them. I beamed because I was still new in the ministry, and I really needed lots of compliments in order to feel successful. One man said, “I didn’t agree with anything you said. You need to get your theology straight.” And he walked away.
Immediately discouragement overwhelmed me. I had tried hard to be God’s instrument to the people, and I had failed. As I left the church, I thought about what had happened. At least fifty people had told me how my words blessed them. One man came to me with a negative message. How did I react? I believed the negative. I allowed his words to shift my thinking, and I convinced myself I had failed.
I hadn’t failed. I had listened to the wrong voice and allowed it to control my feelings. I determined that never again would I allow one negative voice to discourage me and make me feel that I had failed. Perhaps I had failed to help that man—and I couldn’t do anything about it—but my teaching had touched many others. One woman had tears in her eyes when she told me that I had given her exactly the right word she needed to hear.
I did something else that night. I reminded myself that what I experienced had been a negative feeling, but it had not been reality. I began to quote Bible verses, reminding myself that Satan attacks us where we’re weak and vulnerable. I was new to public speaking, and the man with the negative word knew that.
I thought of Romans 10:9-10. We often quote these two verses when we speak to people about their salvation; however, the principle is there no matter what the subject. Paul says that we need to believe in our heart and confess with our lips. I stopped and said aloud, “God, I believe I am in Your service. I believe I did my best for You. I believe You used my words to bless many people. I do not have to listen to that one negative voice.”
Within minutes, I felt better. (See how quickly our feelings can change?) Reality hadn’t changed, but I had. I refused to allow negative, wrong thinking to turn me from reality.
Loving and caring God, forgive me for thinking wrong thoughts and for allowing wrong feelings to determine my attitude. I ask You, in the name of Jesus, to help me believe Your Word and to entertain positive thoughts. Amen.