I recently spoke with a strong and competent woman who is the pit of despair. She is struggling with some very real losses and is lonely and afraid. She confided in people she trusted, and to add to her sorrow their reactions have been less than kind. When she shared her struggles her confidants told her she lacks faith and is not trusting in the sovereignty of God. She was also told she is living too much by her feelings.
She tells me she is depressed, yet she gets up every day, showers, dresses, makes meals for her family and fulfills her duties at home and at work. She performs her duties well, is not short tempered with co-workers or those she works for. She continues to serve at church, teaching women the truths of God's Word and training them in righteousness in spite of how sorrowful and lonely she is inside.
These are not the actions of a faithless woman or a woman who is living by her feelings! She continues to fulfill her responsibilities despite how she feels. She is demonstrating great faith through persevering and is trusting in God's sovereignty over her life. This dear lady is not living by her feelings, she is simply having feelings. She is indeed sorrowful, but her actions prove she is not wallowing. She is smiling on the outside and dying on the inside- because she has no one who will allow her to be real.
I understand why she finds it difficult to be judged this way by her friends. They don't understand why she has withdrawn from them. Those of us that counsel and minister to others must be very wary of passing these sorts of judgments on each other. Sometimes it is cruel to tell someone who is hurting to "trust God" or to ask, "where is your faith" unless we are willing to get into the trenches of their sorrow with them right then and there and allow them to bare their hearts to us.
Sometimes a swift answer, no matter how biblical can be the wrong answer. Scripture tells us that we are wise if we ponder how to respond rather than blurting out a Scriptural platitude. Sometimes, no answer is needed at all...your friend may just want to know that someone cares.
People that know me know that I am not one to live by feelings, nor to promote such a lifestyle. There is a very real difference in the life of a person who is struggling to maintain balance in the midst of the tumultuous waves of an emotional storm and one who goes under willingly and stays there. Let us strive to be sensitive, kind, and most of all compassionate in our dealings with each other.