This is an edited transcript from the short audio clip where Jen discussed faith, feelings, and our intimacy with God in the Psalms.
… One of the gifts the Lord has given me, and it’s truly from Him, is the ability to trust Him and to have a strong sense of faith. That gift came through some hard situations: home life growing up, some missed hopes and dreams, the death of my dad in college, singleness… And through all of that I had lots of scripture hidden in my heart. Psalm 84:10 comes to mind: “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. He is a sun and shield…” and now I’m not exactly nailing the memory, but the point is not to do word-perfect memory. The point is to be able to recall these things in moments of discouragement.
And so I’ve memorized and meditated on lots of verses about the sovereignty of God and what came out of that was a real ability to trust Him through hard times and a strong sense of “He is good!” and “He’s got this!” and it lets me hold things with a loose hand. Of course that wasn’t always easy… One of my favorite quotes is from Charles Spurgeon: “God is too kind to be cruel and too wise to make mistakes, so when we can’t trace His hand, we can trust His heart.” And through events in my life, He really did teach me to trust His heart. I knew He was in control, but I had such a high view of His sovereignty that rather than pray and pour out my heart to Him and ask for what I wanted, I felt like I was being available to whatever He wanted for me. So even though I knew that Scripture commands these things (pouring out our heart to Him and asking Him), I really was in a place of “whatevs Lord.” I didn’t even want to ask Him because then He might answer me “Yes,” and I didn’t want to forsake His plan for mine. And that was a super sweet place to be … to really trust His sovereignty. And so with that came the gift of faith.
In contrast to that, I have never been a heavy “feelings” person. Feelings weren’t talked about in our family. I say I only know 3 feelings: sad, mad and glad. And I’ve only been able to put words on all that in the last few years through marriage and some counseling and working through some hard stuff. But because of the heavy faith and the inability to articulate feelings, I would often bypass my feelings and go straight to faith. I felt like that was the holy and right thing to do. We are absolutely called to trust the Lord, but I think that the Psalms teaches us that we don’t have to forgo feelings to trust the Lord. The feelings are very much what make us human and what actually set us apart from the rest of His creation. What God wants is my feelings AND my faith.
The reason I think He wants my feelings is because He wants to know me. As I’ve known different people there are some folks that are heavy feelings-driven and that means their walk with Christ can be kind of an emotional roller coaster. Their relationship with the Lord is going as well or as poorly as their emotions indicate. Or, there are people like me that think that feelings are not part of our relationship with God. We think, ‘He’s got this.’ And that is true. But that’s not the whole story. The result for me was a lack of intimacy with the Lord. I think if I have faith without feelings, I have great trust but I don’t have intimacy. And if I have feelings without faith, then I may think I have a close relationship with God, but I might struggle with fear and anxiety because my feelings aren’t anchored to my faith in Him. If you’re bent towards faith you might lack the sweetness of intimacy. But if you’re dependent on your feelings, you’ll be tossed to and fro because our feelings are so fickle, and you might not enjoy the stability and steadfastness of leaning into faith.
Most of the Psalms begin with a strong feeling or situation, and then you see the psalmist lean into the truth that he knows about God, and then those two are resolved in the conclusion of the psalm. In all but one of the psalms, the resolution of emotion and truth presents as praise and surrender and rest and peace. And that’s not a peace that forsakes feelings, and it’s not a peace that is without faith. It’s feelings in the context of faith that leads to intimacy and sweetness with the Lord.
Click PLAY to listen to the short 6-minute clip by Jen on “Faith and Feelings”
This is a link to a dropbox audio file that can be opened in iTunes and/or downloaded to your personal device. Please feel free to save it as we are unsure how long the link will be active. This link is “Lesson 1: The Way of the Psalms” led by Jen Clouse.