The obsessive thoughts. The consuming lies. The ever-present ache in my heart.
I felt weary and distant from God. I felt weak and helpless to change my situation. I felt apathetic about my circumstances.
I was struggling with difficult emotions and craving constant happiness in my life.
But my craving was impossible to attain.
Would God save me from this? How long would He let Satan torment me? I knew full well that God had the power to stop or allow Satan’s deceptive schemes. So when would He stop the deception?
Doubt, anger, and despair filled my heart. If God was good, He would save me from this mess. If God loved me, He would free me from this prison cell. If I truly belonged to Him, this would pass (preferably sooner rather than later).
I wanted God to make my bad feelings disappear and stay away forever—or at least for a week.
But bad feelings never disappear.
I felt angry, upset, and confused; and I hated these feelings with a passion.
But what if these feelings are part of the everyday life? What if I can’t be happy all the time?
It’s important to realize this now (in case you haven’t already):
We are going to struggle with difficult emotions.
Every. Single. Day.
Life doesn’t get easier as we get older. It just gets harder. As we grow up, encounter new things, and experience new situations, we learn how difficult life can be.
When we were young, we probably didn’t feel depressed for more than fifteen minutes. We only got angry when our siblings stole our toys, and we only felt upset when we fell off our bikes.
Our feelings change dramatically as we get older. Now they are deeper, longer-lasting, and more painful. They consume more of our lives than they did when we were five.
Even though our emotions are now harder to deal with, I want to tell you a little secret:
Our emotions do not have to control us.
They aren’t sinful. They don’t displease God because He created us with feelings. Jesus even experienced anger, sadness, and despair.
Our emotions can lead us to sin—or to Him.
Anger can lead us to become impatient…or to pray for help.
Gloominess can lead us to become apathetic…or to lean on other believers.
Despair can lead us to throw a pity party…or to read God’s promises.
Desire can lead us to envy others…or to be thankful for what we have.
Even happiness can lead us to become self-centered…or to serve others who aren’t as happy.
Following our feelings has consequences.
Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. (Ecclesiastes 11:9 NKJV)
Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, was the wisest man who ever lived, yet he often followed his heart and his eyes, as he described above. But he wanted readers to be aware that if they followed their hearts, God would bring His judgment on them.
Our emotions spring from our hearts. If we follow our hearts, we follow our emotions. And, as I discussed, our emotions can lead us to sin or to Christ.
Feelings can’t disappear.
We can’t wish them away.
But we can thank God for the pleasant emotions and rely on Him during the tough emotions.