Nowadays feelings seem to dominate everything about people and how they would describe themselves. “How are you today?” inevitably comes with a reply about how they are feeling, rather than how they actually are. What we think about ourselves is often determined by how we feel around other people. We even have status emotive on social media to describe how we are feeling. Most people are in the pursuit of the “feeling of happiness” and it drives everything about our lives. Which brings me to this conversation I had today:
I don’t feel loved
“I get that Jesus loves me,” she said, “but I don’t feel loved.” My heart went out to her because I know that I have also felt that way. But I also know that it is a trap we can fall into.
Feelings can dominate our thinking, but they are not necessarily the truth about us, our situation or circumstances.
In other words, feelings are not equal to truth. They may point to truth. But they could also be a lie. We may have feelings about different things, like I don’t “feel forgiven by God,” or “feel like we have a relationship with Jesus” because feelings are a reaction to an event, experience or circumstance.
- The problem with feelings is that they change over time, especially in changing circumstances. We are by nature emotional creatures, with different personalities, which respond to God in different ways: one may be a highly emotional personality while another is calm and reserved. There is no right or wrong emotional response.
- Circumstances changing also alter our response to circumstances. One day we feel we can conquer the world, the next day we want to crawl into a hole. What we felt yesterday, may be totally foreign to us today.
- We also tend to think that a pattern of feelings in the past, will determine our future or life.
That said, you and I place ourselves on shaky ground when we cannot distinguish between different emotions, or count on our emotions (or an emotional experience) to determine the truth. Our emotions are not the measure for determining what is truth around us.
- Truth, by its very nature, does not change over time, while emotions do.
- So how we feel, cannot be used as a determining factor in God’s love for us, or on any other matter that has to be based on truth.
Believers base their lives on the authority of God’s word, not on how we feel.
So as we are trying to figure out our emotions, a good place to start will be, how much of my feelings is based on truth. Truth as found in scripture and is determined by the trustworthiness of God and His word, not on our emotions.
IMPORTANT: Truth may cause an emotional response is us, but truth is not determined by our emotions.
When we make a decision to believe a truth (faith), we make a decision to trust God at His Word (the source of truth.) Believing is not based on feelings. However, with time, our feelings should eventually come in line with what we believe.
Does this mean that our feelings should be ignored. No, our feelings are valid, but they cannot be counted on as truth. Here are some facts to put your faith in, despite how you may feel about it:
- God loves us and sent Jesus to die on the cross for us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
- When you invite Jesus into your life, by opening the door of your life, He comes in and fellowships with you. Rev 3:20 “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
- In Jesus, we have forgiveness of sin (Col 1:14 “…in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”), which includes all of our sin: past, present and future. Jesus’ death on the cross is a one-time payment for all sin (Hebrews 10:1-18).
- But sometimes, especially when we have been forgiven much, we are haunted by feelings of guilt and these feelings cause us to wonder about the forgiveness of our sins. Here is another fact: when we confess our sin, we are forgiven. 1 John 1:8-9 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
- We become children of God, spiritually born into His family. John 1:12-13 “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
- We receive eternal life. 1 John 5:11-13 “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
In that last verse, did you notice the words “know that?” It is not “hope that;” “feel like;” “guess that” or “work towards that,” but simply know. Our feelings can be used to deceive us if we give them too much authority to determine truth in our lives.
The best example to explain this is to take a chair as a symbol. The fact I know is that the chair can support my weight, but I do not feel that it will. If I take my feelings as the truth, I will never sit on the chair – that would be a stupid thing to do! But if I choose to place my reliance on the facts about the chair, despite my feelings, I will sit on the chair. I may be a bit nervous to start with, sitting on the very edge, but as the facts MATCH my experience, I start to believe the facts despite my feelings. My feelings while I sit in the chair change slowly over time from relief, to comfort, to confidence to conviction that the chair will hold my weight.
My belief follows the facts and my feelings eventually follow to be in line with the fact of my experience.
Thank you Father, that Your Word can be relied on. It does not change, nothing can be added to it and nothing removed. It stands for all eternity and Your character guards it. Thank you that I can rely on your Word for life and not my emotions or how I am feeling at the moment. Thank you that You created me with feelings, but that my feelings do not determine the truth of life around me. Help me to trust in Your Word and not my emotions when it comes to deciding if You love me or not. You love me, because Your word tells me so.