Sometimes I wonder what I’m thinking. Martin Lloyd Jone’s (1899-1981) book Spiritual Depression has been testified about repeatedly by some of my greatest heroes in the faith (John Piper, CJ Mahaney, Bob Kauflin, Mark Driscoll…to name just a few). So the big question is – why haven’t I read this sooner? Duh.
Each chapter has been blowing my mind, but I felt lead to share this mornings chapter on “Feelings” as it is particularly practical. He is one of my new favorite dear old departed saints.
The starting premise is that feelings exist, they are altogether strange in their coming and going, and we are not to allow ourselves to be controlled by them. We need to control them, with the Word of God and the Holy Spirit that lives within us as followers of Jesus. “Oh the havoc that is wrought and the tragedy, the misery and the wretchedness that are to be found in the world simply because people do not know how to handle their own feelings!” Thank you, Dr. Jones, for starting us off with a bang.
- Feelings are meant to be engaged
- Do not be afraid of feelings (RuelNote: Does that count as feeling something about a feeling?)
- We cannot create feelings, nor command them at will.
- We cannot generate feelings within ourselves.
- Nothing is as changing within us as our feelings
- Ever just wake up in a bad mood for no reason at all?
- Don’t underestimate the physical factors – are you exercising, eating right, and sleeping enough?
- Bad feelings do not mean we are not a Christian
- Neither is happy lightheartedness Christian joy – but that doesn’t mean we give in to stoicism and thinking all happy feelings are bad. (Turns out you can be a Christian and show some emotion. Perhaps try that when singing! OK, I digress, back to our regularly scheduled program…)
So what do to/not to:
- Feeling depressed? First check for sin.
- If you are actively sinning and not repenting…guess what? You should be miserable. There is something between you and God…
- Confess, repent and run to the cross and soak in the grace God gave you in Jesus
- Do not over-concentrate on your feelings – they are not to be central. We cannot let them control us.
- Concentrate on the Truth – God’s Word. Yes, the Bible.
- There is a difference between rejoicing and feeling happy
- You cannot make yourself happy, but you can make yourself rejoice (Phil 4:4 anyone?)
- Stir yourself up – remind yourself of your identity in Christ
- When you are walking in the darkness, keep walking. Don’t sit down in it.
- Thirst after righteousness (Matt 5:6)
- Want the most supreme joy? Press hard into God
- Psalm 16:11 – “You have make know to me the path of life; you fill me with joy in your presence.”