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God gave us emotions, we must learn to use them

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It is often taught in Christian circles that God gave us emotions to enjoy and experience life, but the negative emotions we must ignore or overcome and stand only on the Word of God.

It is as if only happy, joyful and peaceful emotions are of any use. I understand the encouragement to stand on the Word of God regardless of how we feel, however, I believe there is a misunderstanding of what we call “negative” emotions.

Physical pain is something most of us prefer to avoid; however, some of us enjoy and even look forward to a certain amount and type of physical pain. No, I have not gone any loonier than I already am, and there is an important point here.

Physical pain is the indication in our body that something is wrong in our body. As a response to the pain, we avoid the action, movement, or object causing the pain. However, there is a certain amount of physical pain involved in increasing our physical fitness. The pain we feel during and after training can be beneficial if we pay attention to our bodies and learn to read the pain we are feeling.

Physical pain during proper training is from the muscle fibers tearing under stress and the increase of lactic acid and other bodily compounds in the area experiencing the pain. Physical pain after training is from a combination of the damaged muscle fibers, lactic acid, and other bodily systems responding to the overload our training caused; however, the weight lifter will notice after a time of rest the pain turns to “itching” indicating the muscle repairing itself and growing. An experienced weight lifter understands exactly how much pain is the “right amount” to achieve for his muscles in order to prevent overdoing his training and causing actual injury instead of causing his muscles to grow and strengthen in response to the increased loads he is lifting.

After a while, the weight lifter begins looking forward to the pain, and during stretching actually can come to enjoy the feeling; so long as the pain is kept to the correct level for his body.

As Christians, negative emotions (i.e., fear, depression, loneliness, etc.) are not things to flee or overcome, but are warning signs just as physical pain is a warning sign. These negative emotions, these warning signs, are meant for our good and are part of us to let us know when something in our soul or spirit is getting out of balance, or becoming a detriment to us. These negative emotions are also signs that something in our lives is missing, just as the physical symptoms caused by certain vitamin deficiencies. Ignoring the symptoms only increases the risk of serious damage; while ignoring the warning signs of negative emotions increases the risk of those emotions becoming spiritual forces in the hands of our enemy, giving the enemy the legal right to afflict us.

Let’s look at fear, for example. Fear can cause us to curl up in a little ball and wet or soil ourselves, or it can motivate us to great feats of character and strength. Fear can also prevent us from doing and accomplish general everyday tasks because the fear “freezes” us. How does this apply to Christian life?

I believe fear is on the opposite side of the coin that faith is (not actually the opposite of faith). I believe faith is believing God can and will (Abraham’s faith [being fully persuaded] was accounted to him as righteousness) because of His great love for us; fear is believing God either cannot or will not (particular for the one individual experiencing the fear) because we are insecure and do not trust in His love for us.

Scripture tells us in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.”

Think about the historical instance when the disciples saw our Lord Jesus Christ walking upon the water and were not sure it was Him. Peter, impetuous fellow that he was, called out to our Lord, “If it is indeed you, command me to come to you on the water.” Now, do not dare belittle Peter, his faith in and desire for the Lord our God was something he was ready to act upon in an instant; something we could all learn a lesson from.

Our Lord simply told Peter, “Come.”

Now stop for a moment. Can you imagine the joy of the Lord Jesus Christ upon seeing Peter dare to do the absolute impossible upon His Word? Can you imagine the delight it brought to our Lord? I can picture our Lord Jesus Christ looking up at our Father for a moment and both smiling at each other in bemusement, “We’re going to have fun with this one. He’ll do anything because of his love for and his desire for us. He will indeed be a blessing and a force for Our Kingdom.”

Peter, without hesitating, jumped out of the ship and started walking on the water to our Lord Jesus Christ. Peter didn’t stop to think, wait a minute here. People do not walk on water, we either sink or swim, but we do NOT walk. Nope, Peter took our Lord’s command at His word and began treading across the water to Jesus, confident in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ to get him safely to Him. Go Peter!

As soon as Peter took his eyes off the object of his love and desire, and focused them upon the boisterous wind he stopped contemplating the love of Jesus for him, and started contemplating the wind and insanity of walking upon the water; Peter’s change of focus caused him to forget about the love of Jesus that enabled him to walk on the water and he started to do what people normally do when they hop out of a ship and attempt to walk on water...he began to sink.

When Peter began to sink, he suddenly remembered, he not only loved Jesus, but Jesus also loved him and cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Peter made a demand upon Jesus based upon the love Jesus had for Peter (and has for each one of us today, and forever). How did Jesus respond? Did he say, “Boy, you made your bed on the water, now sink in it”? No, the love of Jesus caused Jesus to be immediately within arm’s reach of Peter, grab hold of Peter and lift Peter back up on top of the water.

Now, please, pay attention to this. I have yet to hear anyone talk or teach this all the way out.

What happened next? Please get your Bible out and read Matthew 14:22-33.

Matthew 14:32 tells us, “And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.”

Precious beloved, the sea did not still nor did the wind settle down until Jesus and Peter had arrived back at the ship. Jesus did NOT change Peter’s circumstance, Peter changed his own focus back to the love of our Lord Jesus Christ; and they both walked back to the boat amidst the tossing sea and boisterous winds together.

This is how we use “negative” emotions. The negative emotions we experience are warning signs that our focus has changed; that we are no longer focused upon the love our Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit have for us. God does not need to change our circumstances. We need to be mindful of our focus!

Have you ever ridden a motorcycle? One of the lessons you quickly learn is that wherever you look, that is where you will go. If you want to turn right, check left for vehicles, and focus right, or you will be caught leaning or steering left, and falling right instead of turning right. Yes, I am speaking from experience, well, at that time it was inexperience.

When we focus upon not breaking all the commandments of the law, and not sinning, we go where our eyes are focused; we end up breaking commandments and sinning.

Negative emotions are like the buzzer in the car that reminds us to fasten our seatbelt, or take our keys out of the ignition before we lock them in the car. They cause us to regain our focus upon what we should be doing and focused upon.

Despair and depression? Instead of the enemy pushing us down, we should of our own accord, humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift us up.

Loneliness? Like a little child, go running to Father, boldly coming before God’s throne of grace to find help, and He will scoop you up in His arms and love on you. Our Lord Jesus Christ is always with us, and absolutely refuses to ever leave or forsake us, even to the very end of the world.

Pain in your heart? Focus upon the Balm of Gilead, our Lord Jesus Christ will apply the salve of His perfect love to your wounds – spirit, soul and body.

Every time we feel negative emotions, we should immediately recognize this as a need to change our focus, and as Peter did, cry out, “Lord Jesus, save me!”

His perfect love will have Him within arms distance to keep us from drowning, and He will walk with us until we are where we need to go, regardless of the circumstances and storms around us.

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If you have questions or comments you would like considered in an article, please contact Jim Pappas at: jim.pappas_icie@ymail.com

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