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?