Must Feelings Control Me When I’m Depressed?

God created us with the wonderful capacity to feel.

Whether it’s the unfettered joy of holding a new grandchild for the first time, the subtle exuberance when we accomplish a hard-won goal, or the awe-inspiring appreciation for a roseate sunrise, feelings are a divine gift.

But feelings reside on the negative side of the spectrum, too. We all experience some negative emotions as part of our humanity.  But when a depressive episode descends on a person he or she is more likely to battle hopelessness, fear, worry, and self-loathing. False beliefs vie for our attention.  We tell ourselves lies that keep us from reveling in the gospel, and thwart motivation for ministry.

But a recurring theme in my teaching and writing on depression is this:  God’s Word is far more reliable than my feelings.  Even when depression isn’t the culprit, our emotions fluctuate, whereas Bible truths and God’s promises don’t.

When I’m in a dark mood,  I may not feel that a Bible teaching responsibility is worth the time and effort. Yet God’s Word insists that our toil for Him is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).  I may not feel loved and valued, yet God says He exults over me and loves me (Zephaniah 3:17), and that He paid the high price of His Son’s death for me (1 Cor. 6:19-20 and 1 Peter 1:18-19). No matter what causes my depression, I face a spiritual battle.  What will I believe?  And if I meditate enough on right beliefs, there is often a corresponding improvement in my feelings.

Years ago I wrote a poem on feelings and faith.  A major depressive episode was trying to hinder my personal time with the Lord, and sap me of motivation for my ministries.  The poem was a way in which I “preached to myself.”

 

FEELINGS ARE NOT MY FUEL

“I do not feel like praying!”
I muttered, despite my need.
That’s when God whispered, saying,
“Now that’s a prayer I will heed!”

I felt no hunger for God’s Word,
but I chewed on it anyway.
A surprising thing occurred:
my spirit felt full all day.

I felt bleak.. Wanted to pout.
Other folks? I wanted no part!
By faith I chose to reach out.
Only then did God warm my heart.

No passion at all to serve.
“Won’t do any good!” I lamented.
That’s when the Lord threw a curve:
That’s when someone repented.

Feelings are fickle. One minute I’m low.
The next minute, my feelings may soar.
I don’t bank on them, for I know
I can trust God’s Word far more.

 

I’ve learned through experience that I can obey and serve no matter how I feel.  God will honor the obedience–and sometimes transform my attitudes–when I choose to act when feelings aren’t pushing me forward from behind. What I feel ultimately stems from what I choose to believe.

Thank the Lord for the exhilarating emotions, and wield His sword to battle the negative ones.

What is a Bible verse or truth that you meditate on, which buoys your spirit, when you are feeling down?

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Comments

    1. Author

      Thanks, Luanne. Look forward to this coming week’s time with your group

  1. Psalm 84:11 No good thing does He withhold from those whose way is upright!

    If I have prayed for X and He hasn’t granted that prayer, I conclude: It must not have been ‘good’ for me! I can trust my all-wise, all-good, all-knowing Dad!

  2. Great.. Awesome poem, appreciation for the love He gives us even when we can not imagine it.
    I also have to remind myself, I do not have to understand it and know all the WHY’s,
    IT IS BECAUSE IT’s GOD, having faith enough believe

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