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Faith and Feelings

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God created us with a full range of emotions: Love, joy, compassion, care, sadness, anger. In fact, these emotions reflect the Imago Dei (image of God) within us, because we know from His Word that God expresses all these emotions. 

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The Scriptures tell us that God is love (1 John 4:7). He is compassionate (Lam.3:22) and caring (1 Pet. 5:7). He delights over us and rejoices (Zeph. 3:17). When we honor Him, He is pleased (Prov. 15:8). Likewise, He is displeased, even appalled, when He sees injustice. Isaiah even writes that God put on “garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal” to repay His enemies (Is. 59:15-18).

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There is nothing wrong with our feelings. In fact, we need to acknowledge them and learn to express them in healthy ways. Jesus, fully God and fully human, was an example of perfect emotional health. He showed grief and love for His good friend Lazarus when He wept at his tomb (John 11:35). He felt compassion for the crowds who gathered around Him, knowing they were like sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36). His passion for the temple of God and the ability of all people to worship there even led him to drive out the money changers and those selling animals for sacrifice (Luke 19:45-46). 

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Because of our inherent sinful nature, however, our emotions often get tied up with unrighteous motives, and sometimes we lose control over them. But that doesn’t mean we should stuff our feelings inside and not deal with them. The Bible even says, “Be angry and do not sin” (Eph. 4:26, ESV). In fact, the Psalms were written by David and other biblical authors who poured out their emotions in poetry and prayers, often expressing anger, sorrow and joy in the Lord.

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Learning to control our emotions and express them in ways that don’t hurt ourselves or others is part of growing in our maturity in Christ (Eph. 4:15). Not doing so can affect our spiritual, emotional and physical well-being. Like two sides of a coin, emotions that are healthy and natural can turn into unhealthy thought patterns or behaviors when they are not dealt with properly. Anger can lead to bitterness. Love can become covetousness. The flipside of guilt (conviction by the Holy Spirit over wrongdoing) is shame. Healthy fears, if unbridled, can grow into worry and anxiety.

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If you’re struggling with feelings that seem to be controlling you instead of you controlling your emotions, it can be helpful to seek help from a professional counselor. Just Between Us (JBU) also has a number of articles on topics such as finding joy, gratitude, and contentment; managing fear, loneliness or disappointment; and improving self-esteem. We hope you’ll find encouragement from reading stories written by other Christians who may be working through the same emotions you are. We would also encourage you to spend time reading the Psalms and sharing your feelings with the Lord in prayer. He’s not afraid of your feelings!

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