Morris Alpert had a hit song of lost love called “Feelings” back in the mid-70s: “Feelings, nothing more than feelings…trying to forget my feelings….” The point of the song is that the feelings didn’t compare with the realities of what he had in love and which were lost…leaving him only with feelings and pain-filled memories.
I was reading an article recently by Dr. Neil Stewart in which he discusses feelings, citing Ps 42:5: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?” His point here is that the soul can become distressed with the “blahs” and doesn’t even know why. Dr. Stewart then notes: “In this far place, we fall easy prey to a dark theology built upon feelings.” (Emphasis added). In reaction, Stewart says, we, the children of God, sometimes choose to clam up and shut down. We don’t “feel” God close to us. Or we feel that God has stopped listening to our prayers. So we stop reading our Bibles and maybe stop saying our prayers. Oh, we may say the perfunctory prayers, like giving thanks for the meal, but the ones where we often are in tears while pouring out our real feelings, held deep in our heart, may go unsaid.
So what do we do when this sense of godly estrangement pervades our daily lives? When we forget that God is as close as His name, a simple, often-quoted statement packed with life-giving theology?! If we’re a new Christian, I’m guessing Dr. Stewart would instruct us to seek out a seasoned saint who can help get us back on the right path. For those of us who have walked with the Lord for many seasons, Stewart says we should remember our training, especially if we’ve been a Christian for a while and know some of the truth of Scriptures. Stewart cites Job’s progression from confusion to consecration (Job 23:8-12) and then makes the most insightful statement, one that was a great reminder to me:
“In a fallen world, Job realizes he will always know more theology than he can feel. Faith bridges the gulf, taking him to a realm the hand of feelings cannot always touch.”
And I thoroughly loved the conclusion Dr. Stewart reached as a result of this discourse on feelings: “In the end, the best question…is not ‘what do I feel?’ but ‘what do I know?’“
In a world where we can be tossed & turned by the vagaries of our feelings, we must always return to our faith. “Faith is…the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1) When God says He will never leave us or forsake us, we must, absolutely must, believe that promise and cling tightly to Him. Otherwise, our feelings can drag us to places we’d better not go.
By: Lee Pierce