Feelings and Emotions

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Isaiah 53:3, NIV*

I’ve been writing a lot lately about the deceptiveness of feelings and how we need to trust God instead of ourselves. I’m still learning, thinking it through on-screen, discovering what it means in my own life.

For me, the emphasis has been on not believing false feelings: the vague unease, dissatisfaction or sadness that can have me living “in the dumps” instead of in the confidence in my heritage in Christ.

Then there are true feelings, and I’ll call them emotions to help me see this clearer. Things like grief, fear, loneliness. Anger. Happiness—why does that one not come around as much as the others?

Jesus experienced emotions. There’s nothing wrong with them, and I think they’re a key ingredient in what makes us human. It’s not healthy to suppress or deny them, but we still can’t let them rule us.

Recognizing them can help us rely on God’s sustaining grace in our daily lives. In the words of author/speaker Grace Fox, if we feel fear over something God calls us to do, we need obey anyway—to “do it afraid.” Or sad, or whatever.

And He is calling us to do things. If angry, we’re still responsible to refrain from delivering a sinful response. Grieving, to treat others in love.

God our Maker, You know our weakness and You promise to give wisdom when we ask. Teach us to discern between deceptive feelings and genuine emotions. Teach us to rely on Your truth and to reject the lies. And help us rightly handle our emotions so we’ll live as genuine humans who trust Your care, neither denying what we feel nor being ruled by it. 

There aren’t a lot of songs about true emotions and about the lie that we shouldn’t express them. Here’s Don Francisco’s “It Ain’t No Sin to Get the Blues.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

2 thoughts on “Feelings and Emotions

  1. Stephanie Nickel

    I used to be ruled by anger. I am so incredibly thankful that God delivered me years ago.

    However, sometimes the butterflies in my stomach are confirmation that I am about to do what God wants me to do.

    Nervousness is what some might call another “negative” emotion. I, however, think emotions are neutral. It’s what we do with them – or in the midst of them – that truly matters.

    Thanks for your honest, challenging words, my friend.

    1. Janet Sketchley

      Yup, what we do with them. Or what we believe they’re saying. I know what you mean about the butterflies meaning you’re stepping out to obey, and they feel different than the lead-winged ones of dread that would hold us back and convince us we’re failures. It’s something about attitude, maybe.

      And I can’t imagine you in the ruled-by-anger days. Praise God for making you who you are today! It’s amazing what He does.


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