There was a Christian songwriter I used to listen to when I first became a Christian in the mid-eighties: Don Francisco. He sang folk-style ballads, many of their lyrics lifted straight out of scripture and some dealing with the struggles Christians experience in every day life. One, whose chorus still echoes round my brain 35 years later, is called Love is Not a Feeling. The next line is, ‘it’s an act of your will’.
‘Love is not a feeling, it’s an act of your will.’ This notion is what enables us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5: 44). We don’t have to ‘feel’ love for people, to share God’s love with them but we do have to make a choice to show them His love. This ‘choice’ we have to overcome our feelings is one that applies to many areas of our Christian walk as we can regularly let them dictate our actions. When we feel low, our walk with God can lose energy; when we feel powerless, our walk with God can lose strength; when we feel despondent, our walk with God can lose hope.
The trouble with letting our feelings dictate our Christian walk is that our feelings are transient, they can change from one moment to the next; they can be based on external factors that we have no control over; they can be dependent on our own well-being which isn’t always great. Relying on our feelings to guide us means we are like waves of the sea that are driven and tossed by the wind (James 1: 6) and we become ineffective Christians
But we have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer us who live, but Christ who lives in us and the life we now live in the flesh, we live by faith in the Son of God. (Galatians 2: 20). Our faith should overcome how we ‘feel’ about a situation because we have Christ living in us. As we remain in Him so He remains in us (John 15: 4) but apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15: 5). The righteous shall live by faith (Romans 1: 17) and our faith is the victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5: 4). Our feelings do not overcome the world, our faith that Jesus is the Son of God does!
As one who struggles with allowing negative feelings to smother my faith, I know that saying ‘let your faith overcome your feelings’ is easier said that done. But I go back to Don Francisco’s song, to the line, ‘It’s an act of your will’. Sometimes we just need to make an active decision to walk by faith not by sight (or feelings) (2 Corinthians 5: 7). So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4: 18).
Jesus is our ultimate example. He looked beyond the agony of the cross to the victory it would gain. He overcame the overwhelming feelings of sorrow he had in the Garden of Gethsemane and surrendered Himself to God’s will (Matthew 26: 36-44) knowing joy awaited Him at the end of His suffering (Hebrews 12: 2).
No matter how we feel ‘in the moment’ God will give us the strength to walk the path He has laid out for us, to overcome negative feelings that hold us back and to experience the joy that awaits us when we meet Him face-to-face. Make the decision today, to not be led by your feelings, but by your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.