• Kate Clinton

Feelings Are Not a Good Barometer

2 Corinthians 5:7 “Our life is lived by faith. We do not live by what we see in front of us.”

Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe He exists and rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

1 John 3:20 “For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He know everything.”

One of my children came to me with a question that I often struggle with. I was in the kitchen doing dishes and he asked me why he couldn't feel God's presence. I am not a biblical scholar, so I answered him the best I could with the knowledge I have found studying God's word.

I told him this thing we call faith can't be based on feelings. Nothing in life really can.

Feelings can be so fickle. They seem to be constantly changing. Affected by the weather. How much sleep you got the night before and if you have a headache. If someone was unkind to you. If you can't find your keys when you are already late. If you forget an important appointment. Feelings are never a secure barometer of life.

I told my son that you can't base your marriage on feelings. There are days that I feel like my husband is the greatest guy in the whole universe and days when I wonder if he will ever learn how to take out the trash. Marriage needs to be based on commitment. Feelings for your spouse will come and go. You'll get upset. They will get upset. You will feel lovey dovey one day and insane the next. The base needs to be God's definition of marriage and the knowledge that you love your spouse. Love doesn't change. Feelings do.

My son was also shocked to hear that I don't always have fluffy feelings towards my kids. Some days they drive me crazy. I wonder if I would have been better off alone on a deserted island than dealing with ball game schedules and squabbling kids. I never feel like packing lunches or cleaning the toilet. It would be weird if I got excited when I had the potty scrubber in hand. I do it because of knowledge that it needs done. The fact I take care of them isn't based on my feelings. It's based on love.

I also told my son that there are plenty of times I don't feel God near, but I know in my head that He is. It is a good time to search your heart for sins you may need to confess. God may be allowing the quiet so you seek Him more. Or you may just be living out faith. Faith that isn't based on feelings, but a constant knowledge that God is who He says He is. That Jesus is who He says He is. That the Holy Spirit is here with us to help us through. And a knowledge of how God wants you to live by reading His word daily.

I do wonder what it would have been like living in the Garden of Eden with God. Always feeling His presence. Or fleeing Egypt with Him being present in all kinds of miraculous ways. But He is a never changing God, unlike us ever changing humans. Jesus left us with some encouraging words in John 20:29 which says, “Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'” That's us! He was thinking of us way back then and encouraging us to keep on with our faith even when feelings don't accompany it.

Feelings will come and they will go. Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” To clarify the definition, I googled the question “What is the definition of faith?” And found this easy to understand answer: “Simply put, the biblical definition of faith is 'trusting in something you cannot explicitly prove.'” And that the definition of faith “has two aspects: intellectual assent and trust. Intellectual assent is believing something to be true and trust is actually relying on the fact that something is true.”

As humans, we want to be able to feel something to believe in it. If our 5 senses confirm reality for us, we feel like we can understand it. But that isn't what God has called us to do. Don't base your faith on feelings. Base your faith on fact and knowledge. Appreciate the times when you do feel God's presence. When you see something you know is from Him. And look forward to the wonderful time in Heaven, when we will know how it feels to constantly be in His presence. For now, press on. Confess sin. Trust in Jesus as the only way to heaven. Grow in knowledge of God through His Word. And learn to base your faith on trust and knowledge, realizing that feelings will come and go, but His love never changes.

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