Faith over feelings

We live in an emotionally driven world. Our culture says “follow your heart.” But as believers, that’s not the best advice.

We’re called to live by faith, not feelings. If I follow my heart, I would probably eat a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for lunch every day.

Don’t get me wrong; feelings are important. After all, we were made in the image of God, and God has feelings. Our feelings help us express empathy, humility and love to one another. Feelings also give us cues—they can let us know when we’re tired, hungry and even in danger.

Yet, it’s important not to live in our feelings. We spend so much time stuck in how our circumstances make us feel that we often are more connected to our feelings than our faith.

Fear, loneliness, discouragement, anger, failure—how often do you act on how you feel? It’s tempting to define our reality according to our feelings, but the Bible says our feelings don’t tell the whole truth.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Why can’t we trust our hearts?

“‘The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?’” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Our hearts are always changing and are affected by sin. As a matter of fact, the world is constantly changing. What was right yesterday is wrong today. What was cool before is now not cool.

Our flesh wants what it wants: to serve itself. We often put our trust and reliance in our feelings, rather than taking our thoughts captive.

But God always tells the truth, and He is always faithful. I can put my trust in Him. I can’t put my trust in my plans or someone else’s plans, but God is unshakable.

While salvation is instant, sanctification is an ongoing process. It takes time and commitment.

Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

In other words, once you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are changed and made new.

But that doesn’t mean you instantly stop sinning. It’s a work-at-it-everyday kind of faith that really changes a person. Faith is your life vest when your feelings still seek to drown you.

Seek Him

Many of us love Jeremiah 29:11. It’s where we learn God has plans for us and not just any old plans but “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future.”

That sounds great, right?

The problem is, many Christians want God’s plans without letting go of their own. In context, the book of Jeremiah was written during a time when God’s people were at rock bottom. The nation of Israel was under attack from a foreign nation; the people were being killed, raped and exiled.

Yet, in the midst of all this hardship, God promises that He has a plan. He promises to deliver His people from exile and bring them home. Many of these people would not live to see it come to fruition, but God kept His promise (see Ezra 1).

God has plans to give us a hope and a future. It’s why He sent His son Jesus to die for us and rise from the dead to give us new and eternal life.

But we can’t benefit from God’s good plans without seeking Him first.

Farther down, in Jeremiah 29:13, the Lord says “‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’”

We want the blessing without the obedience. We often cling to those feelings of fear, doubt and worthlessness wondering where those good plans are He has for us.

In his famous devotional, “My Utmost for His Highest,” Oswald Chambers writes this:

“Believe God is always the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him. Then think how unnecessary and disrespectful worry is! Let the attitude of your life be a continual willingness to ‘go out’ in dependence upon God, and your life will have a sacred and inexpressible charm about it that is very satisfying to Jesus. You must learn to ‘go out’ through your convictions, creeds or experiences until you come to the point in your faith where there is nothing between yourself and God.”

My prayer is that your faith will grow bigger this year. May you take the time to seek Him. When you find yourself sinking in your own feelings, know He is your rock and can lift you up and set your feet on solid ground.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).

Amy Potter is a member of Southeast Christian Church.