My righteous one will live by faith. (Hebrews 10: 38)
Often our feelings and emotions are mistakenly substituted for faith. Pleasurable emotions and deep, satisfying experiences are part of the Christian life, but they are not the essence of it. Trials, conflicts, battles, and testings lie along the way and are to be counted not as misfortunes but rather as part of our necessary discipline.
In all of these various experiences, we are to rely on the indwelling of Christ in our hearts, regardless of our feelings, as we walk obediently before Him. And this is where many Christians get into trouble. They try to walk by feelings rather than by faith.
A believer once related that it seemed as if God had totally withdrawn Himself from her. His mercy seemed completely gone. Her loneliness lasted for six weeks, until the heavenly Lover seemed to say to her, “You have looked for Me in the outside world of emotions, yet all the while I have been waiting inside for you. Meet Me now in the inner chamber of your spirit, for I am there.”
Be sure to distinguish between the fact of God’s presence and the feeling of the fact. It is actually a wonderful thing when our soul feels lonely and deserted, as long as our faith can say, “I do not see You, Lord, nor do I feel Your presence, but I know for certain You are graciously here— exactly where I am and aware of my circumstances.” Remind yourself again and again with these words: “Lord, You are here. And though the bush before me does not seem to burn, it does burn. I will take the shoes from my feet, ‘for the place where [I am]
standing is holy ground’ ” (Ex. 3: 5).
Trust God’s Word and His power more than you trust your own feelings and experiences. Remember, your Rock is Christ, and it is the sea that ebbs and flows with the tides, not Him.
Keep your eyes firmly fixed on the infinite greatness of Christ’s finished work and His righteousness. Look to Jesus and believe— look to Jesus and live! In fact, as you look to Him, unfurl your sails and bravely face the raging storms on the sea of life. Do not exhibit your distrust by staying in the security of the calm harbor or by sleeping comfortably through your life of ease. Do not allow your life and emotions to be tossed back and forth against each other like ships idly moored at port. The Christian life is not one of listless brooding over our emotions or slowly drifting our keel of faith through shallow water. Nor is it one of dragging our anchor of hope through the settling mud of the bay, as if we were afraid of encountering a healthy breeze.
Sail away! Spread your sail toward the storm and trust in Him who rules the raging seas. A brightly colored bird is safest when in flight. If its nest is near the ground or if it flies too low, it exposes itself to the hunter’s net or trap. In the same way, if we cower in the lowlands of feelings and emotions, we will find ourselves entangled in a thousand nets of doubt, despair, temptation, and unbelief. “How useless to spread a net in full view of ALL THE BIRDS!” (Prov. 1: 17). “Put your hope in God” (Ps. 42: 5).
~J. R. Macduff
When I cannot feel the faith of assurance, I live by the fact of God’s faithfulness.
Cowman, L. B. E.; Reimann, Jim (2008-09-09). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (pp. 107-108). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.