Our emotions can be a wonderful tool, one that was given to us by our Creator. They can also be dangerous and lead us astray. Something I have often pondered and thought amazing, is that truth isn't connected to our emotions. It doesn't matter how we feel about something, it only matters whether that something is true or false. For example; if we have the same headphones and you think they sound awful, and I think they sound amazing, our feelings about the headphones, don't change the fact that they are headphones. Truth is independent of our emotions. This is a very important thing for us to understand because we might not always feel God's presence.
We live in a day and an age where everything seems to be sensational, including certain sects of Christianity that have bled into the modern evangelical landscape. It has become about being consumed with God's presence and feeling Him, almost as if to confirm He is with you. If we are being honest, we don't always feel God's presence, and the reality is, that is okay. If you belong to Jesus, the Holy Spirit resides in you and "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God..." (Romans 8:16) There is an assurance that comes with knowing God that transcends our emotions. I don't want to downplay our emotions as God has created them and they are apart of our lives but due to sin, we have put them an in an improper space.
The fact of the matter is, God is who He says He is regardless of what we feel about it. God can and most certainly does use our emotions but they are not our guide, He is. Our emotions are a gauge, not a guide.
I thought Jon Bloom from Desiring God summed it up well, so instead of re-working what he wrote, here it is.
"God designed your emotions to be gauges, not guides. They’re meant to report to you, not dictate you. The pattern of your emotions (not every caffeine-induced or sleep-deprived one!) will give you a reading on where your hope is because they are wired into what you believe and value — and how much. That’s why emotions like delight (Psalm 37:4), affection (Romans 12:10), fear (Luke 12:5), anger (Psalm 37:8), joy (Psalm 5:11), etc., are so important in the Bible. They reveal what your heart loves, trusts, and fears. At Desiring God we like to say pleasure is the measure of your treasure, because the emotion of pleasure is a gauge that tells you what you love.
But because our emotions are wired into our fallen natures as well as into our regenerated natures, sin and Satan have access to them and will use them to try and manipulate us to act faithlessly. That’s why our emotional responses to temptation can seem like imperatives (you must do…) rather than indicatives (here’s what you’re being told). Just remember, that’s deceit.
Emotions aren’t imperatives; they’re not your boss. They’re indicatives; they’re reports. That’s why Paul wrote, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions” (Romans 6:12)."
If you are struggling to feel God's presence and long for that closeness. My encouragement would be to spend ample time in the word and in prayer. Something I started doing recently and hope to make a more consistent practice, is hand writing the Scripture out. For me this had an intimate feel and the words started to jump off the page.
May we not be tossed back and forth by our emotions, rather may the be a gauge and may we walk in the truth as revealed in God's word.
If you wanted to read the full article from Desiring God click here.
If you want to continue the discussion, leave a comment! Have a blessed day!
Joe Bragg is the Ministry Director for Kalamazoo Youth For Christ. Joe also has the awesome privilege to lead the youth ministry at his church, where he was previously the Executive Pastor. Joe and his beautiful wife Stephanie have 3 wonderful boys, a shaggy dog and a cat that thinks he's a dog. Never a dull moment!