You would think I’d learn from experience not to act on emotion, but I do it all the time – frequently with negative consequences. Instead of letting my will determine my actions, I let my feelings push me this way or that. I honestly wish I could shut down those feelings sometimes, because they get me in trouble often.
However, there must be a reason we experience emotions, otherwise why would God have given them to us? Giovanni mentioned a popular song in his last post, and I’m compelled to do the same here. Every time I turn on the radio these days I hear “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum. The pertinent line here: “I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all.” While sometimes I wish I could turn off my emotions – or at the very least, not be ruled by them – I must admit that I agree with that line. While the lyric refers to a romantic love lost, it can be applied to lots of emotional situations.
Life is full of pain. I’ve heard it said that joy cannot be fully felt by someone who has not suffered, and I can attest to the truth in that. I often reflect on the times in my life when I have suffered the most intensely, and it is in those moments that I have learned the most about myself. It is in those moments when my relationship with God becomes particularly intense. And it is then that I feel so acutely the fact that only in Christ will my heart be healed and my feelings adequately understood.
Since I’ve started working for missionaries, I’ve pondered often about the suffering they endure. They leave their families, their homeland, their familiar culture, and go off to people that often don’t appreciate them or even like them very much. How must that feel? How do they cope? I’ve begun to understand that the only way they can do what they do is though grace; through an understanding that they must act based on the truth of their relationship with God, not based on their own feelings.
We can all take a lesson from them. There is no doubt in my mind that our missionaries feel quite deeply. They feel love for God and neighbor, and with that love comes pain and suffering. They feel abandoned, misunderstood and alone at times. But above those feelings is a clear commitment to act based on the will of God, not human emotion.
A balance between heart and mind; a love for God’s will, not our own. That’s what’s always required, and what we should be seeking, whether we feel like it or not.