by: carole l. haines
“You shouldn’t feel like that!” “Don’t be sorry!” People who say these things to us are well intentioned, but they call us to deny our honest feelings. Being sorry about something is good, as long as we handle it the right way. You know how you can see a photo, and the things in the foreground appear sharp & clear, but the background is blurry. Our feelings can alter our vision in this way, too. We feel what we feel, but our feelings must not be what rule us. That would be a nightmarish scenario of riding a roller coaster that never stops to let us off. Our feelings are good indicators of how we may be doing, but they can also be highly deceptive. A sugar low, or high, can dramatically alter how we feel, and yet our circumstances have not changed in the slightest. How do we handle such fluctuations? We cry out to God for truth in the deepest parts of ourselves. Here is what His Word says:
26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. (Ephesians 4:26 &27 NASB)
This passage is just stacked with practical truth:
1) Don’t deny the reality that you feel something: Be angry, or frustrated, or hurt or whatever. Don’t deny that inner reality.
2) Yet do not sin: Handle your feelings correctly. Be honest with yourself, take it to the Lord in prayer, and gently work through that feeling. Ask God to reveal why you feel this way in this situation. What triggered this emotional response? Trust me, He will reveal it to you, and help you handle the feeling without sinning.
3) Do not let the sun go down on your anger: Don’t delay in dealing with your inner reactions, try to handle that with God ASAP. When we don’t handle our feelings, they tend to go down deeper inside us, and then pop out in inappropriate, awkward ways. Don’t outwardly react, if possible, until you have inwardly processed. Be honest with yourself about what is going on. “I think I’m jealous, envious, hurt, etc. We can’t repent of sin that we deny.
4) Don’t give the devil an opportunity: This is key for us to understand. The refusal of us to deal honestly with our feelings and reactions to things; will give the devil an opportunity to confuse us, short-circuit us, and even use us for his own purposes. Think about what Jesus called him. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44 NASB)
Inner honesty is so key to truly growing into the image of Christ. God is polishing us, filing us down, remolding the damaged parts, healing our inner wounds. God’s Word tells us: 14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled. (Hebrews 12:14-15 NASB)
So, in closing, acknowledge your feelings, but don’t always trust them to tell you the truth. We are too easily deceived. Bring these feelings to God and ask Him to help you develop truth in your innermost being. Here is a great prayer of David about this.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139: 23-24 NASB)