In terms of spiritual stability, one of the biggest mistakes I tend to make, and see others making, is concluding that our feelings are true. If we feel it, it must be real, right? But because our feelings can easily be manipulated and can fluctuate so wildly, they are not an accurate spiritual barometer. Just go on a roller coaster ride and you will have more feelings pass through your brain inside of five minutes than you can handle, yet none of them will be true.
Take a minute to consider the range of feelings we experience each time we watch a movie? At first, we feel kind of excited as our anticipating grows, but then as we settle in, we can become bored. Then they throw in some action or some things to make us afraid, followed by a little humor as relief from the fear they just produced, which we chuckle at. Then they bring it to a boil where we are laughing out loud. Then we go back to being bored again. So they add some parts that create all those romantic feelings they want us to feel, when suddenly, they take us on a car chase and we become excited, fearful, and laughing again all at the same time. The more feelings they can produce, the more successful the film is, right? But none of it is real. It just s a “mental roller coster” for those who don’t like to go on the real ones.
YOUR BODY CANNOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE
Part of the genius of our design is that we have several sets of eyes, both within and without. We have our physical eyes and we have our mind’s eye, which can be found in our flesh and our spirit. For some reason, our bodies cannot tell which set of eyes we are looking through, so it reacts to all of them as if what we were seeing was real. So when we imagine something fearful, our body reacts as if we were actually seeing it. It tenses up, starts to sweats, adrenaline begins to flow, giving us a boost of energy; muscles fill with blood, the heart begins to really pump, and pupils dilate until everything we need to survive the situation we are “seeing” comes into play, even though what we are imagining is not real. Our body cannot tell the difference. It reacts the way it should if we were really seeing it the trouble we imagined.
Our feelings, for the most part, are not true. They are not a reliable compass to guide us, especially when our feelings are all over the map.
Some people say they do not feel God’s love or sense His nearness. These are also very subjective feelings and can be easily manipulated. Some people have these feelings in their flesh, but describe them in real spiritual terms.
The fact is, God is near whether we feel Him or not. He loves us, whether we sense it or not. Perhaps this is why John wrote, “We have known and believed the love that God has for us.” (1 John 4:16)
We can know spiritual things by experience. That’s what the work known in this verse means. In other words, it’s a real experience and we can feel it. Sometimes these spiritual experiences are beyond our ability to describe. When we sense Him we are overwhelmed by His love. Then there are other times when we do not feel anything at all. That’s when we must rest in His love by faith. You just have to believe this fact whether you can feel anything or not. We need both to know and to believe God’s love for us. He wants us to feel it, but when it is not there, we simply believe it. Speaking for myself, there are more times when I just have to believe it then when I actually feel it, but whenever I have the feelings, I ride them out. I enjoy them! I am grateful for them, but when they are not, I don’t sweat it.
WATCH YOUR EYES
If our eyes are not filled with faith, our feelings will fluctuate. We must live by faith, walk by faith, talk faith, which is not easy to do when we see our circumstances or look ahead with our mind’s eye.
If our eyes are not set upon how big God is and what He can do, our feelings will falter. There is a old book by J.B. Phillips, entitled, “Your God is too Small”. The title alone is worth the price of the book. It is a great key that shows us why we so often feel the way we feel.
If our eyes are too much upon ourselves we will feel discouraged and despair. People often conclude that what is happening within them is real, but forget that our flesh has it’s own voice, feelings, and desires. Whenever we allow our flesh and it’s desires to be the predominate influence in our lives, rather than our spirit, the worse we will feel. We have to learn how to divorce ourselves from our flesh and deny what it says or wants.
If our eyes are upon the weaknesses or failures of others then we will become critical or judgmental. Then we will begin to feel the the same way about ourselves, which is bi-product of judging. When Jesus said that we will be judged if we judge, He did not mean that it would come from God. The same “glasses” we use to look at the faults of others are the same ones we see through when we look at ourselves. We condemn ourselves.
If our eyes are on our problems, instead upon the Lord, we will feel helpless and hopeless. David made himself lift his eyes up “...to the hills from whence cometh my help”. When we do this, feelings will follow.
If our eyes are on negatives, soon our mouth will say what we see. When this happens, feelings will follow, which if we believe will cause this cycle to be repeated or accelerated. What we say can affect our spiritual well-being. We see this born out in the Book of Proverbs, which says, “A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth...” (Proverbs 12:14)
“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)
“The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.” (Proverbs 18:8)
“A man's stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth, from the produce of his lips he shall be filled.” (Proverbs 18:20)
HOW TO GET SPIRITUAL “FEELINGS” IN FIVE MINUTES
Worship the Lord aloud. Go somewhere where you can raise your voice and sing His praises. Do this with both your heart and mouth, focusing on Him. Tell Him how big He is, how wonderful He has been to you. Recount His goodness to you. This is the sacrifice of praise, even the fruit of our lips, which we can do whether we feel like it or not. (Hebrews 13:15)
Thank Him for every little thing in your life. Thanksgiving is a powerful tool, which not only causes the enemy to leave us alone, but can make us feel different in a matter of minutes.
Pray the prayers of Paul which are listed in each of his epistles. Write them out, using various translations until the come alive to you. They are not only the pure will of God, but they are powerful in helping us to see ourselves through God’s eyes.
Pray in tongues for five minutes… do it out-loud, full bore. Paul said that when we do this, we will not understood by men by God hears us because we are speaking mysteries into the spirit realm. “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” (1 Corinthians 14:2)
Read the Psalms aloud, especially the first 40 Psalms, which are mostly written by David. He often spoke to his soul, telling it to get in line with an unseen reality.
“A Psalm of David. Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.” (Psalm 103:1-5)
Quote the promises of God aloud. David encouraged himself in the Lord. Speak what God has spoken and you will feel different. If you don’t have a promise to stand upon, ask Him for one.
Sow to your spirit. As you yield to your new man, allowing him to have the pre-eminence, you will feel different. Jesus said we have to deny our flesh and what it says. This is done by not allowing these thoughts to stay around to the point that they create strong feelings. Nip them in the bud. Someone has to say no to him. Other’s cannot do this for you, and neither can the Lord. He said we must deny ourselves. Try to do something for others within this day, becoming others centered. This can change your feelings regardless of our circumstances. (Galatians 6:7-9)
If none of these things help you find a whole new range of feelings, then the only thing I can suggest is that find the nearest roller coaster and see what happens.
"God's character can be trusted when your feelings can't. -Jeanne Mayo