There has been a stranger living in my house for the past several months. The stranger is someone who once professed to love and follow Jesus, and who believed His Word was truth. These days, he is full of questions and doubt. He is seeking to know the mind of God, but is looking in all the wrong places.
I know there does come a time in each of our lives when what we believe, think we believe, and say we believe crashes into reality. Our theology is put to the test, and we really have to decide if we are going to live what we profess. My son is wrestling through that time in his life, and as a result he has become a virtual stranger to me.
His questions are theological in nature. Theology is not sterile, it is not dry and dusty or reserved for a select group of people. Theology is alive, and living theology is to guide and direct the course of daily life for the Christian. Often, theology conflicts with the emotions of the moment and it's truths appear to be unfair.
"How can God allow suffering when He has the power to end it?"
"Why did He elect some and not others?"
In spite of our emotional reactions to difficult things, we must encourage each other to hold fast to truth and continue to live by the truth in spite of how we feel. Emotions are not always our friends, at times they act in complete conflict with the truth! If we make it a practice to live by our emotions, we will soon have no room in our lives for the theological truths of our faith.
Consider Jay Adams' version of 1 Peter 2:11 that says, "Dear friends, as resident aliens and refugees, I urge you to keep at a safe distance from the fleshly desires that are poised against your soul like an expeditionary force."
When I read this verse, my mind conjures up a mental picture of a hunting expedition gone awry. The hunter becomes the hunted. The hunter is on foreign soil and dealing with a very wise, crafty and manipulative prey. Emotions are like that, aren't they? We think we have them under control, we say that we have mastered them, and yet we are routinely overtaken by them. Emotions want to rule. Emotions want to run our lives and want to master us.
Because God gave us the ability to feel, we know our feelings and emotions are not bad. However, like everything else, we must subdue our emotions and submit them to the Holy Spirit. Our feelings about theological things must be subjected to the authority of the Word in every circumstance or we stand little chance of living biblically.
The emotions of pain, loneliness, loss, fear, anxiety, sorrow, depression and their related associates are always threatening to rise above the truth in practice. No matter how much theological truth a person knows, this does not change!
As low as I feel at times, as much as I may feel discouraged and hopeless, as much as it may seem that negative circumstances will never end and I will feel like this forever, I must also remind myself of the truth that these things are passing. In every situation, our emotions must be submitted to the Holy Spirit, preach the truth to ourselves, remind ourselves of Philippians 4:8-10, Romans 8:1, 28-29, James 1, Romans 7, 2 Corinthians 11:22-30, and other passages that speak of living theology in the face of human suffering and trials.
We are called to live out biblical theology, even in the midst of personal hardship and things we don't understand. Hold fast to truth, pray for wisdom, seek counsel from those who have walked this path and come out on the other end.