“We will walk through troubles, but our theology and what we believe about God is where our emotions can flow out of”. Carl Gulley //
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” This verse is easily one of the most popular yet most misunderstood and least believed amongst believers. Why is that? I would guess, it’s because we know God is good, but we don’t really believe He is. Our life experiences have shaped our hearts to believe otherwise: sickness, death, financial stress, injustices and an unending list of living in a broken world tether our emotions to our experiences which directly influence what we believe and how we respond.
The way you and I view the world isn’t usually based on truth; actually, it’s often based on our emotions derived from our experiences. What is dangerous about this? When you live in a broken world, the reality is not if troubles find you—it is when. It is in the depths of our troubles we find out if what we believe about God is rooted in our ever-changing emotions or in scripture. If we are rooted in our emotions, we will be believing in a god that is unreliable and not good—not a true god. It will be through this false perception of God that we will make bad decisions, blur our vision and keep us living in a world that simply, isn’t true.
So, how can we structure our lives to use our emotions but not be controlled by them?
1. Train your emotions. Our emotions are good—they are God-given for a purpose—but they need to be trained in how to use them. Our emotions show what is in our hearts and ultimately, what we believe. If lashing-out in anger is our normal response under stress, we know that we are believing a lie somewhere and our perspective is altered because of it. If we don’t understand what our emotions are rooted in, we will have the same response over and over. The challenge is to train our emotions to be aligned with the word of God. Our emotions are real and valid, but if we let them loose, they will misinform us and misguide us. If we are to train our emotions and we can recognize where our vision is skewed, we can train our hearts to inform our emotions.
2. Shift your perspective. The way we view and understand the world around us flows through our emotions, but our emotions are unreliable and ever-changing. Our vision can become blurry and God’s work in our lives can be unrecognizable. If we train our emotions to align with scripture, we can check our vision and see clearly the ways God is working through us and for us.
3. Build a right theology. It’s easy to say, “don’t let your emotions rule”, but when you’re sitting in a hospital room or in the middle of a breakup, our emotions quickly bubble over and shape what we believe about God. A hospital room isn’t the place to create a theology because we’ll be making a theology based on our emotional response to our circumstances instead of the truth of a good God. Our emotions are unreliable and we live in the reality of a broken world. When we build our emotions on scripture, we are anchored in truth and we can shape a reliable and true perspective of God. It is in an unwavering belief in the characteristics of God our emotions can flow freely because they will be informed by scripture.
Breakthrough in our emotions requires us to pinpoint where our emotions are coming from and why, shift our perspective and anchor our hearts in scripture to believe and rest in a God that is good. Our emotions are a good gauge but are not who we are; when we trust in the goodness of God outside of our circumstances, we can inform our hearts to be less reactionary and hold firm to a right view of God.