We live in a culture that puts great stock in feelings.
People say things like, “Follow your heart,” and, “I’m not feeling it right now.” Google “quotes on feelings” and you’ll come up with quotes like:
“Don’t allow your mind to tell your heart what to do. The mind gives up easily” –Paulo Coelho
“Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.” –Audre Lorde
And there are hundreds of songs about feelings like (I’ll give my age away now) “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” by the Righteous Brothers, “Feelin’ Alright (I’m Not Feeling Too Good Myself)” by Joe Cocker, and “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” by Justin Timberlake (alright I admit it, I haven’t listened to this one and I’m not going to).
We put a lot of stock in our feelings. But one of the most helpful truths I was taught as a young Christian was this: Our feelings are real but they are a poor barometer of the truth.
Our feelings are real. When we feel sadness or joy or fear those are very real. We really experience them. And it’s not wrong to acknowledge them. The question is, are they always telling us the truth about our situation or about God? Sometimes yes. But often, no.
Our feelings, as real as they are, are a poor barometer of the truth. The only solid unshakable unfailing truth we have is God’s word. No matter what we feel, we need to go to the Bible to discern the reality of our situation. We may feel like God has abandoned us but his word says he will never leave us nor forsake us. We may feel like God is distant and uninvolved, but he tells us in his word he is a very present help in trouble.
We may not feel God’s love but Romans 8:35-39 promises us that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
We may feel condemned when we sin, but God’s word promises us there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. As a young believer I once felt terribly condemned for a sin. After confessing it to Jesus I had to affirm over and over my freedom from condemnation in Christ, because the feelings of condemnation didn’t go away right away.
Our feelings are real but they are a poor barometer of the truth
We have to know the truth of God’s word because Satan lies to us. He tells us God isn’t going to help us. God has forsaken us. There’s no hope for us. When he lies to us, we must lift up the shield of faith to extinguish his fiery darts. The shield of faith is our faith in God’s word, not our feelings.
So remember, your feelings are very real but they are a poor barometer of the truth. We must learn to live not by our feelings but by the word of God.