We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. (NLT)
Some of us were told early on in our faith journey that we were not to focus on our feelings. Some of us took it so much to heart that we tended to ignore our feelings and conclude that faith was a matter of objective truth and feelings were irrelevant.
Some of us have realised later in life that this is a dangerous half-truth. Feelings matter. How would it be if our love for someone dear to us did not include feelings? Do we imagine God has no feelings for us? Are faith and feelings at war with each other?
Yes and no. When Paul wrote this passage, he was undoubtedly feeling troubled. He was not on some serene faith journey which ignored difficulties. His heart ached, he experienced feelings of rejection and pain. And yet at the same time he contrasts all this with his faith. He acknowledges his painful feelings as one reality but not the only reality.
I may feel down but that doesn’t mean faith has failed. Then again, I may feel on top of the world but that doesn’t mean my faith is strong. Feelings come and go and need to be faced. They are part of our journey of faith and are significant in our relationship with God and others. But they are not the only reality. God remains God irrespective of my feelings.
Our feelings are part of who we are, but they are not all of who we are.
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