Broken Thermometers7:30 AM
When birdies sing, the sun shines and "I've Got Peace Like a River" rolls...
The Lord is so good! I could scream sometimes -- I could dance -- I could sing. And I oftentimes do. You just get this bubbly, happy, huge sense of joy that satisfies the deepest corners of your heart.
Or that peace -- that peace when you've been praying and thinking and praying and striving...and you finally get it. You're finally resting in His arms. You finally have this beautiful, beautiful faith you never dreamed possible.
And you just feel wonderful. God is so good.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
Did anyone tell you life is tough? I'm telling you now. People hurt you. Things don't make sense. Trials come. Temptations lay you out flat. And you cry to God again and again and again. If the silence doesn't get you first, the Feeling will.
The Feeling of sickness to your soul, felt all up and down your innards. It hurts to exist. You want to cry. You want to shake yourself. You want to say, "For goodness' sake, Bailey, rejoice always!" And then you feel guilty because you feel joyless, because you feel despair, because you feel that God is not God in your life at the particular moment.
You get the Feeling when this way seems right but the word of God pricks again and again: it's not, it's not, it's not. You get it when everything just goes wrong. You get it when you can't stop sinning the same sin over and over and you've maxed the 70 x 7 forgiveness equation. You get it when you seem all alone -- when nobody seems to understand -- when the people you turn to for help do nothing but confuse.
And God's not there. In your heart, in your soul, it's no longer a hope built on faith but a hope built on hope: "God -- are you still there? Maybe? Do you exist? Sort of? Am I really forgiven? Was this salvation a hoax? Hello?"
So which do I believe? Which do I focus on? Sometimes the joy-filled, peaceful feeling seems so real and genuine; sometimes it seems out of touch with reality. Plus, that beastly Feeling likes to feed in my pasture more often.
When I need God most, I feel Him least. My faith goes flying out the window with every ache and problem.
So which do I believe?
When God is in control...
Jesus Christ never promised happy feelings. That was not included in the package. He did not leave us a spirit of bubbliness to rest on. He left us a promise: "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
When you feel sick to your stomach, despairing, unforgiven, ugly, terrible, wretchedly, vilely sinful -- God is as close to you then as when you're leaping above the mountaintops or resting in green pastures. The measure of His nearness is not our feelings.
Being the young lady that I am, and very female, feelings make up a huge part of my life. I am sensitive to an excess. I was telling a friend about some minor tragedy in my life and suddenly realized I had used "cry" and "upset" for the zillionth time in our conversations. The second after that I thought, "Am I really that big of a crybaby?"
But that's me. Things swing from giggles one moment to unbreakable despair the next.
In that sense, feelings are dependable. In all others, run far, far away from them as measures of rightness, measures of God's nearness, measures of your worth, goodness or salvation.
They don't work. They're messed up. They're sin-stained (not sinful, mind). They hit the mark sometimes, as any broken clock will twice a day, but they distort the truth as a general rule.
The standard Christian answer to a decision is, "Wait until you feel peace about it. Wait for God's voice." (Translation: wait for a good feeling.) So I wait. And I grow restless. I grow confused. I grow anything but peaceful -- and I still need the decision made. I still need assurance. Yet God does not answer.
Fact is, He does answer -- through His promises written down in His Word. We get our instruction, our battle plan, from the Scripture. Life itself teaches us nothing new; it is not a revelation of God. It is an open book test to see if we were paying attention in the school of Christ.
We cannot depend on our feelings. We can only depend on the promises and principles laid out in Scripture. When we feel abandoned, we go back to "I will never leave you or forsake you," whether or not we feel unabandoned. When we feel unloved, we cling to "I have loved you with an everlasting love," whether or not we feel lovely. When we feel too sinful to approach God, we apply "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow," whether or not we feel a burst of "forgiveness" afterwards.
That is the peace. That is the joy. That is our answer -- and it is enough for every single incident in our life, every tear, every sorrow, every pain.
If feelings did play the role as oracle or prophet or decider of our faith, Christ would have inspired these quotations: