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-- © GodSpeak International 2007 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: John DeLaughter <john.godspeak@sbcglobal.net>
Editors: Teresa Seputis and Sue Spaulding

Prayer-School Course #38

Praying To Obtain God's Best

By John DeLaughter

Lesson 10
The "Ins and Outs" of Emotions While You Wait

In seminary, I had a New Testament professor who claimed Jesus never got angry. When asked what happened when Jesus' whipped the money changers in the temple, the professor said the Lord was only "righteously indignant." It's funny, but several dictionaries translate indignation as "righteous anger." Apparently, my professor, along with other Christians, felt uncomfortable with an angry Messiah.

Are Feelings Bad?

The discomfort of some believers with emotions has become part of the "face" of Christianity. Have you seen Campus Crusade's "Four Spiritual Laws" tract? The booklet pictures the successful Christian life as a train. Facts are the locomotive, faith, the passenger car, and feelings, the caboose. The pamphlet says: "This train diagram illustrates the relationship between fact (God and His Word), faith (our trust in God and His Word), and feeling (the result of our faith and obedience) (John 14:21)."

Interestingly enough, trust is a feeling. So are love and joy. All three are extolled as positive emotions. An emotion is like placing a few drops of food dye into a glass of clear water; it colors everything we do, even if we don't like to admit it.

On one side, the Campus Crusade tract is right. You must never allow your feelings to replace faith as you wait on God. You experience a range of emotions while you stand in God's waiting line. There are times your feelings back up 110%. On other occasions, your feelings lead you to question whether it's worth the wait.

But the extreme of the tract's position can be harmful. Ministers who have the emotional lives of Mr. Spock from Star Trek will pound their bloody pulpits denouncing emotions as evil. But is Mr. Spock a good model for a Christian's emotional health?

I did a Google search of the Internet for "faith and feelings." It brought up the following quote, which I thought was very helpful: "Your faith must be in the bedrock of the Word of God, not the shifting sands of feelings. Emotions fluctuate wildly..." (That is taken from "Forsaken by God: When you can't feel God," Grantley Morris, http://net-burst.net/tough/feel.htm)

In short, we don't want to throw away our emotions, but we don't want to rely on them instead of on faith.

Are Some Feelings Good?

Emotions play an important role in our decision-making. Our commitments grow out of how satisfied we feel about the choices we've made.

Do your feelings get in the way, or do they guide your way? A sense or feeling) of peace is spoken as a way to discern whether you're following God's direction. Look at one Internet entry on the subject:

"But God has provided an umpire that will make the call for us. In Colossians 3:15-16, the Word of God says, 'Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts ... and be thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.' Now, that word 'rule' carries an interesting connotation in the original Greek language, suggesting someone officiating at an athletic contest. 'Let the peace of Christ 'be the umpire' in your hearts,' or, let Christ's peace decide whether something is 'safe' or 'out' for you. When you're struggling with a decision, one helpful guideline in getting it right is this: Trust what you have peace about in the times when you're in God's presence..."

["The Infallible Umpire" by Ron Hutchcraft, http://www.wfa.org/newsletter/archive/2004/0413_040326/0413_040326.html]

God has a purpose and place for the unexpected emotions that arise while you wait on Him. In fact, God may alert you that it is normal to experience a range of emotions while you wait. Let's discuss that a bit...

It Is Normal To Experience Emotions While You Wait

God wants to alert us to the kind of emotions we're liable to encounter while we wait on Him.

New Christians often don't realize what it takes to live for Jesus. When they encounter their first trial or trouble, they wonder, "What happened?" The sales brochure promised "abundant life?" Didn't that mean, "Life is a beach?"

At some juncture in your walk with Christ, you may think you've outgrown your initial immaturity. You have a few years in the pew under your belt; you've memorized all the praise songs at church; you even listen to Charles Stanley and have read all of Joyce Meyer's books. Then God captivates you with a vision, and a prophet declares a word over you that coincides with that prophetic picture. You begin to pray over goals that grant muscle and sinew to your destiny, and you commit time to dig the physical channel through which God may funnel His blessings. For example, an author writes a book, sends out query letters to several book companies, and prays for God to open the door to publication.

The hurdles you must clear and the doors that must open all depend on your God-granted vision. Then reality hits: You're waiting on God, just like Abraham--only your Red Sea isn't parting as quickly as it did for Moses. The tempers of those who oppose the dream test your resolve. You experience flashbacks to your first rough days as a new Christian. The angels hear you mutter, "What, not again?"

Forewarned is forearmed. Before a professional guide takes a party on an expedition, he finds out what type of weather to expect, then has the group dress according to the forecast. That way, if the weather goes bad, they're prepared for the extremes, and the party weathers the storms better. We're doing the same here. You're being prepared for the storms that come while you wait for closed doors to open.

Reading Psalms is an excellent way to alert yourself to the emotions that may come as you wait on God. The Bible reveals more about the trials and triumphs of David than any other person discussed in its pages. We see his life through the eyes of others, and we feel his struggles in his own words. When pain hits as you wait, suddenly David's words resonate with your emotions. In the midst of turmoil, God shows you how comforting His words are. After David grapples with an issue, and we work through the same feelings, the conclusion David reaches becomes our own. We might not have the answer to our prayer just yet; but the grace of God's presence suffused in David's words, instills us with the courage to stay the course.

Lesson 4, "Encouragement along the Way," mentions other heartening promises for those waiting on God. If you find yourself struggling with negative emotions as you wait on the Lord, you might want to go back and reread that lesson.

-- © GodSpeak International 2007 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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