Living by Faith, Not Feeling

Living by Faith, Not Feeling

by Ashley Green | March 1, 2011

“If you would live in victory over the circumstances, great and small, that come to you each day...and if you want God’s life and power to well up from the depths of your being...then you must refuse to be dominated by the seen and the felt.”

– Amy Carmichael

It comes when I least expect it. I never quite know when to expect it, but it’s a feeling that overtakes me. It comes in different forms, from not sensing the nearness of my Lord, to being consumed with thoughts of my issues and problems, to not feeling motivated to do what I know I should. Up until a couple months ago, my life was controlled more by my feelings and emotions than it was by Christ. The profitableness of my times with the Lord hinged on whether or not I was feeling close to Him; the productivity of my day was based on whether or not I was feeling stimulated; and my faith in God rested upon what my emotions were telling me at the moment.

I knew this was not the way God wanted me to live, but I felt helpless to do anything to change it. In my own strength, there was no way I could alter this unhealthy pattern. Praise the Lord that it is His work that changes us, and not our own ability! In His gentle way, God began transforming this area of my life, teaching me to trust Him more than I trusted my feelings or emotions. He reminded me that He isn’t any less present when I’m feeling distant from Him. He isn’t any less powerful when I’m feeling down. And He isn’t any less faithful when I’m feeling weak. He is still the same! My Lord never changes, and He isn’t affected by my up-and-down emotions.

In the well-known devotional Streams in the Desert, the author shares:

We have taken a great step toward maturity when we trust God without relying on our feelings. It is more of a blessing when we believe without experiencing any emotion. While the first level of faith believes when our emotions are favorable, the second believes when all feelings are absent. And the third level transcends the two, for it is faith that believes God and His Word when circumstances, emotions, appearances, people, and human reason all seem to urge something to the contrary.

This quote was such a challenge to me – a challenge to stop allowing my feelings and emotions to dictate how I live. With great patience and mercy, God has been enabling me to trust Him even when I’m not experiencing any emotion, even when my flesh tells me that I should give up. No matter what the circumstance, my desire is to trust my never- changing Lord. I will wait for Him. I will believe He is fully capable of doing what He promised. And my heart will cry, “I know that my Redeemer lives!” By His supernatural strength, I will refuse to be dominated by the seen and the felt.

A few months ago, a dear friend wrote this to me:

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is how often I think that my relationship with the Lord is centered on feeling. As if when I’m not feeling joy while reading or praying it’s not profitable, or I’m not getting anything out of it. It’s discouraging to not feel love or joy or peace. But...when I choose to read my Bible and pray especially when I don’t feel like it, the Lord is pleased because nothing is a greater proof of my love for Him. Oh, blessed thought. Not that I don’t enjoy feelings of love, joy, and peace – I do! But I don’t need them.

I couldn’t agree with her more.

Feelings of love and joy are wonderful, but they aren’t essential to my walk with the Lord. The more I tune out the voice of self and ignore my emotions, the more I come to know this God who is worthy of my life. Our God is a Rock – He’s changeless! Feelings come, feelings go, and emotions change; but our Lord, He is always the same!

“By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything” (1 John 3:19-20).*

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