Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Understand My Feelings in Times of Trouble and Sorrow

Yesterday we began a journey of learning how to find God in the midst of our troublesome times. We all have them, and as Christians we seem to have more than our share at times! I know many people who are undergoing terrible trials and are in the midst of great sorrows.

These emotions want to sweep us away, don't they? When I am in that place of emotional turmoil all I want to do it sit and stare at the wall. I could spiritualize it and say that I am "being still before God" but in my heart I know what I am doing has little spiritual benefit. What I am really doing is meditating on my problems and ruminating on my sorrows.

How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Psalm 13:2 (NASB)

When the Psalmist says he is taking counsel in his soul it means he is thinking about his problems. This is resulting in having sorrow in his heart all day long. Do you know that your emotions are the physical experience of your thought life? Your emotions are the responses of the things you think about that either please you or displease you. We experience literally billions of thoughts each day, and often those thoughts provoke emotional responses that relate to what we call happiness, hope, well being or sorrow, despair, fear, or anger.

These thoughts come from what the Bible calls the inner man, which is the place of reason (Matt 13:15) and feelings and affections (Ecc 7:9; Isa 35:4) and the place our will resides also (Ps 25:12).

Thoughts in the inner man bring about chemical reactions in the physical body. For example: If you think you heard a noise downstairs in the middle of the night you sit up in bed, your hearing becomes acute, your respirations increase, you begin to sweat and your heart pounds loudly. All of this happens because you think your heard something. At that point, it does not matter if you actually did hear it. Your body is reacting the same way as though it was real. When we think thoughts, we experience emotions and our bodies go along for the ride.

Thoughts also are obviously a function of the brain. So thinking is both an inner man activity and a bodily function. I won't get too technical here for this is not a biology lesson but it is important to understand some basics of how God has created us to be distinctly human and distinctly spiritual beings. We are the only creatures like this! This is why the Psalmist says "we are fearfully and wonderfully made!" (Psalm 139:14)

The brain God has given you almost always functions as it has been created to: reflecting our hidden inner thoughts. The brain is an organ that serves the body. It is like the hard disk drive of the body! It is constantly receiving information, taking in data and converting it through amazingly complex series of chemicals and electrical impulses into vision, smells, motion, emotions and sounds the body makes. The brain also carries out the hidden desires of the heart. I am not talking about the pump in your chest, but about the immaterial part of you I so often refer to in this blog. The part of you that controls your thoughts, beliefs, and desires.

And finally for today, it is important to understand that sometimes our feelings result from a combination of physical problems and/or our interpretation of them. When you don't feel well physically your emotions run high.

We will look at this tomorrow!


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