“But I don’t feel forgiven!” She said in exasperation over a cup of coffee.
Ah, there it is. That’s the real issue, isn’t it? Or is it?
This sweet Sister confessed her sin; she laid it all out before her Savior. She asked for God’s forgiveness, and He’s faithfully given it. (1 John 1:9)
But she doesn’t feel it.
How many times have we fallen into this trap? How many times have we, and I’m talking to Believers here, placed more validity on our emotions rather than in the Truth of the Bible? Meaning, how many times have we put more faith in what we feel rather than in the inerrant Truth of God’s Word?
In my last blog post, What Does Your Heart Crave, I recounted a beautiful moment between a father and his little girl and then asked: What’s hindering you from running into your Father’s arms? What’s keeping you from crashing into His chest and feeling the relief only found in His presence? Guilt? Shame? Bitterness? Pride? Unforgiveness? Unconfessed sin? Unbelief?
Or are you like my sweet friend; you don’t feel forgiven?
“Sister, what do you expect to feel?”
“I don’t know. Something! I feel…nothing. Nada. It’s so frustrating!” This poor woman was uncertain. Lost. Unsure. And then the smallest of whispers escaped her lips, “I should feel something, shouldn’t I?” As she looked up, I could see tears staining her cheeks.
How my heart broke for my friend. “Can I share my heart with you, be blunt?”
“Of course. That’s why I’m here.”
In our culture, we place a tremendous amount of weight on what we feel while we treat what we know as inconsequential, unimportant, and invalid. Every day we’re encouraged to follow our heart. To do what feels right. Yet we’re rarely challenged to acknowledge what we know is true. We’re asked, “How does that make you feel?” while “What are you thinking?” and “What do you know?” are questions of the past.
There’s no push to evaluate our emotions to determine what we’re feeling. Nor is there an analysis to judge if what we’re feeling is accurate or appropriate. In fact, if our emotions negatively influence our behavior—that’s now somehow our right. We balk at being condemned for actions done “in the heat of the moment.” Discipline has become repression. Self-control, propriety, and the Golden Rule are archaic relics buried in a time capsule somewhere.
As a result, we’ve become a hypersensitive, presumptuous, selfish, and irrational culture. We, including Christians, make decisions based on emotions rather than wisdom, knowledge, and insight. We emotionally lash out without knowing or caring to know all the facts of a situation. And we’re quickly offended. (Don’t get me started here, that’s a topic for another day.)
Our emotions have become the litmus test we use to validate almost everything. And this leads to a series of problems:
- Our emotions are as predictable as the weather and change just as often, making “truth” just as volatile and unpredictable, not to mention just as isolated and individual.
- When we all play by our own sets of rules, we become double-minded in our thinking.
- When there is no firm foundational Truth, we stand on shaky ground are often hurt by our own emotionally driven choices
- When we allow our emotions to control our actions and reactions to extraneous stimuli, we tend to make poor choices that can lead to a lifetime of consequences.
- When we allow others to stir and instigate our emotions, we’re effortlessly manipulated and used by them to carry out their agenda. They just have to push the right buttons, pluck the right strings and “Shazam!” We’re dancing to their tune.
Beloved, don’t get me wrong; emotions are a good thing!
How do I know?
Because we witness God’s emotions over and over again in Scripture. We have the privilege to learn how to manage our emotions by mirroring His example. God’s emotions are always justified. Always based on Truth, Honesty, and Love. He never lets His emotions control Him, the situation, His actions, or decisions.
Yet, somewhere along the way, we’ve fallen for Satan’s lie that if we don’t feel something in our heart, it isn’t there. It’s a lie. It’s not real. It’s gone. Or we question if it ever was there to begin with.
Let’s poke a few holes in this horrific lie:
- Many of the things we attribute emotions/feelings to aren’t feelings at all, but choices and actions: forgiveness, love, joy, peace, salvation, God’s presence
- Like I stated earlier, feelings change, moment to moment, day to day—which, in this line of thinking, means truth does too
- There is no room for wisdom, knowledge, information, or objective facts when emotions are the determiner of truth
- When we allow our emotions, our heart, to be the authority of Truth we ignore Jeremiah when he tells us that the heart is the most deceitful of all things.
So when you say you don’t feel forgiven, that makes red flags explode all over the place. Because what I’m hearing is that you put more faith in what you feel rather than in what you know to be True according to what God tells us in His inerrant Word.
Sister, forgiveness is not an emotion. It’s a gift to be accepted or rejected. Like any other gift, this gift can elicit emotion, but the act of forgiveness is just that, an action, a verb.
There is nothing in Scripture that says that we will feel God’s presence or His forgiveness. There are no promises of warm-fuzzy feelings. But it DOES tell us that we can KNOW God and His Truth. So when we are looking for a feeling instead of accepting His word to be true, we are questioning whether or not God has indeed forgiven you. We question his ability to forgive. And the validity of the act of forgiveness.
But let me ask you this:
- Have you also repented of your sin?
- Have you turned from it?
- Or do you find yourself sliding back into those old patterns?
That my sweet Sister could be what you’re feeling, the matriculation of your sin. You’rein an endless cycle of falling into old patterns of behavior, feeling guilty, and asking for forgiveness. Then you are “good” for a little while, but eventually, you find yourself in the same old place.
The look on her face all but screamed, Yes, That’s it!! But her words said, “Is there any hope for me?”
I’ll share that part of our conversation next time.