Faith is Not a Feeling

"I don't get it...sometimes I wake up and really feel God's presence. I feel happy and ready for the day. Other times I don't feel Him at all. I'm so confused. How do you know when He's really there? How do you know when He is actually speaking to you?"

I could almost hear the desperation in her voice,

See the longing in her eyes,

And feel the restlessness in her heart.

"For our hearts are restless until they rest in You" (Augustine).

"He's not a feeling," I whispered in the darkness of her midday slumber.

"He's more than a feeling. He's everything."

We live in a society obsessed with feelings of instant happiness.

Instant gratification, instant satisfaction.

Thanks to social media and technological advancements, we can pretty much get anything we want, whenever we want.

I used to think once you became a Christian, those instant happy feelings would immediately be replaced with a permanent, unshakeable joy.

At an early age, I met real Christians who were daily living and walking in God's truth.

I saw the way they lived their lives,

So differently than the rest of us.

They seemed so happy,

So full of life.

So full of joy.

As if nothing could shake them.

I want that.

So I'll become a Christian too.

Then I'll have all the life and joy I'll ever need.

Then it'll just be happiness from this day forward.

God will take away all the bad in my life and replace it with endless good.

And He'll be walking with me every step of the way.

But then one day you're speaking at your brother's funeral in a solid black dress with tear-stained eyes and a weary heart, wondering where God was then.

What I failed to realize when I was younger is that faith is not a feeling.

Faith is a decision.

A daily choice along the path of holiness.

Along the path the Lord has planned just for you because He loves you.

There are times when I really and truly feel His unending love.

Like when I am worshipping at my Church's young adult group every Tuesday night.

Or when I am joining in Bible study and prayer with the homeless women of Dallas at OurCalling.

Or when I am talking to my sweet friends about how God's grace and love have been working in their lives.

Sometimes I rejoice and say, "I feel You, God. I know You are here in this moment holding my heart and guiding me in Your truth."

Those times are beautiful gifts from the Lord that remind me of what it feels like to physically rest in His peace.

But a lot of the time, that warm butterfly feeling isn't quite there.

Sometimes that feeling is not a feeling of life and joy but instead a weight of darkness and confusion.

Like that warm summer's night when my brother breathed his last and it felt like my whole world was crashing down around me.

Are You even real?

Are You even there at all?

Can You even hear me?

But then I turn to His truth and His followers and am reminded that faith is "choosing to believe God's promises over [our] own feelings" (Faith is Not a Feeling, Ney Bailey).

Faith is choosing to trust in His love even when all you see is darkness.

When all you hear in your own mind is desperation.

All see in your own eyes is longing.

All you feel in your heart is an endless restlessness.

Because His love is real.

It is wide and long and high and deep (Ephesians 3:18),

No matter the circumstance.

Faith is not a chance at never-ending happiness.

It is the opportunity to actively choose lasting joy.

Our friend James from the New Testament explains this so clearly and beautifully.

James calls himself a servant of God and encourages us to actively choose joy no matter what we are going through.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance" (James 1:2-3).

How many of you can actually say that you consider trials to be joy?

I know I sure can't.

And then Paul reinforces this idea when he writes to the Church at Philippi and says that he has learned to find contentment no matter what his life looks like.

"For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

I know what it is to be in need,

And I know what it is to have plenty.

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.

Whether well fed or hungry,

Whether living in plenty or in want.

For I can do all this through Him who gives me strength"

~ Philippians 4:11-13

The truth of the matter is that once you begin to fall in love with Jesus, you won't always feel His presence.

You won't always feel happy.

You won't always feel strong.

But you will learn how to take delight in His word and His promises and trust in the life He has planned for you.

You will take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

You will learn the beauty of choosing joy no matter the circumstance.

You will learn that you are put here, on this earth, for the defense of the Gospel (Philippians 1:16).

As one of the leaders of my church said the other night, as a Christian you will learn that this life is not about you and your dreams.

You were not made to live the life you want to live.

You were made to live the life God wants you to live.

And what a beautiful, wonderful life He has planned for you.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'" (Jeremiah 29:11).

If only you would trust in His plan and His promises,

Choosing to believe that even in the pain and even in your trial, He is sovereign.

And no matter the time, the day, the circumstance:

He is a good, good Father.

***

My Jesus,
You are truly a good, good Father.
In our pain and our sadness, You are our peace.
You search our wandering hearts.
You know us.
You know our thoughts before we even know them ourselves.
You meet us where we are, in our darkness,
And You show us what it means to live in Your light.
May we realize that faith is not a feeling.
And that no matter the circumstance, 
Your love for us is unfailing and unchanging.
How wide, how long, how high, how deep,
Is Your love for us, Oh God.
We choose to rest in Your grace and goodness today.
We choose to cling to You in the midst of whatever we may be going through.
You are the reason for our lives,
The reason we breathe,
The reason we are able to consider our trials to be joy.
Thank You for Your love.
Thank You for Your mercies that are brand new every morning.
We praise You,
We adore You,
We give our lives completely to You,
And we will follow wherever You lead.

In Your most holy name we pray,
Amen.


Photography by Caitlin C. of Duncan, OK

Comments

  1. Beautifully said. A fantastic reminder every single day. I will keep this close.
    Thank you Haley Hoyle

    ReplyDelete

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