When struggling with negative feelings or emotions, make sure they align with Scripture. They are real, but they are not to be trusted and they will not be, by God’s grace, determinative of our lives. Here is a five step process to help you when you find yourself succumbing, tempted or overcome with them.
- Acknowledge the feeling and its reality, e.g. fear (Isa. 41:10; 1 Jn. 4:18), anger (Eph. 4:26-27, 31; Col. 3:8), unworthiness (Rom. 5:1; 8:1; Rev. 12:10-11).
- Respond to the feeling (or lie) with Scripture (truth).
- Pray that my words and behavior would be consistent with the truth of Scripture.
- Believe/Trust the Lord that He will hear your humble prayer of faith and respond based on His presence in and with you.
- Hope in God and His sure and certain promises.
This is a process followed by many Christians. It is not a magical formula to solve the problem(s) immediately. It is a means ordained by God to walk through these issues, trusting in Him and growing through the process.
This is the biblical counsel I gave to one who was struggling with negative feelings and emotions. What counsel would you give?
Though this was focused on the negative, there are also positive feelings and emotions that ought to be processed in similar manner. They will often not carry the heaviness associated with the negative, but that does not necessarily make them aligned with Scripture. Actually, it is probably the positive that lull us to sleep spiritually more so than the negative. With the latter we are often aware that something is amiss and we recognize and acknowledge our need for help. Being in a place of needing help is often a good place spiritually. When things go well, we are often unaware of our spiritual need and contentedly press on with life with little awareness of our need for God and our gratitude to God.
All feelings and emotions, beliefs and behaviors, submit to God and His Word, and this alone brings joy, peace and contentment (Jn. 14:27; Rom. 14:17; Gal. 5:22-23; Phil. 4:4- 9). Because we live in a fallen world, living this way consists of the fight of faith (Phil. 2:12-13). And this is something that is not intended to be addressed alone (notice the “one another” commands in the New Testament and the “let us” exhortations in Hebrews). The fight of faith (and often in these instances it is a fight for faith) is undertaken individually and in community. This manifests the presence and reality of the kingdom and the new person and community created by the Holy Spirit through the application of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This sort of life and living in the present in real time manifests the reality of the future kingdom being made a reality now while awaiting the final consummation at the return of Christ.