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? God did have the power to stop or allow Satan’s deceptive schemes. So when would He stop the devil’s attacks?
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.
Your Emotions Aren’t Going Anywhere
I know it’s ridiculous to expect that my feelings will disappear or that I will suddenly become numb to my emotions. But that’s what I wanted God to do. I wanted Him to make my bad feelings go away and stay away. However, our bad feelings never disappear.
I felt angry, upset, and confused. I hated these negative feelings.
But what if our feelings are part of everyday life? What if we can’t be happy all the time?
Friends, we are going to struggle with difficult emotions. Every. Single. Day.
Life doesn’t get easier as we get older, as I’m sure you know. It just gets harder. As we grow up, encounter new people, and experience new situations, we learn how difficult life can be.
We also learn how strong our emotions 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. We only felt upset when we fell off our bikes. We only became frustrated when we misspelled words on spelling tests.
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 kids.
But Your Emotions Can Be a Good Thing
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.
Of course, feelings aren’t sinful. They don’t displease God because He created us with feelings. Jesus even experienced anger, sadness, and despair.
Friends, our emotions can lead us to sin—or to Him.
Anger can lead us to become impatient with others…or to pray for strength. Gloominess can lead us to become apathetic…or to lean on other believers. Despair can lead us to throw a pity party…or to trust that God’s promises are true. 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.
So feeling a certain way isn’t necessarily a choice, but following our feelings is a choice. And it 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 incredibly wise and discerning (1 Kings 4:29-31). However, he often followed his heart and his eyes, as he described above. Still, his warning is valuable for us. If we follow our hearts, God will bring us into judgment.
In short, 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, and we can’t wish them away. But we can thank God for the positive emotions and rely on Him when we have negative emotions.
This post was originally published as Dealing with Difficult Feelings.