Emotional Links to Thinking

Henry has been working for the same company for 30 years. He believes that he has job security, and plans to retire from the same employer, but the company is downsizing. When he goes to work Monday morning there is a note on his desk from his boss that reads; “I need to see you Friday morning at 10:30 AM in my office.” Can you imagine what kind of week Henry will have?

People have a tendency to assume the worst, and Henry will at least wonder if that note means that he is going to get laid off. If he begins to mull over that possibility, he will probably get angry if he thinks: “You’re going to lay me off. I gave them my best 30 years and all I get is a note on my desk. How impersonal can you get?” He may fuss and fume for a day or two before he starts to waiver in what he believes. “Maybe they aren’t going to lay me off. Yeah they are. Well maybe not, but probably they are.” Now he feels anxious, because he is double-minded, and double-minded people are unstable in all their ways (James 1:8).

By Wednesday Henry has convinced himself that he is going to get laid off, and starts to think; “How am I going to get another job at my age? How can I afford to keep my children in college when I have no employment?” Henry feels helpless and hopeless. In other words, Henry is depressed. From Monday to Friday he has felt angry, anxious, and depressed. By Friday morning he is an emotional mess. At 10:30 AM he walks into his boss’s office expecting the hammer to fall. The boss pauses for a moment before he says, “Congratulations Henry, we have made you Vice-President. Henry has a coronary and dies on the spot!

All the negative emotions that Henry felt that week were related to what he thought/believed, and none of his thoughts were true. If what we believe does not reflect truth, then what we feel does not reflect reality. How would Henry have felt that week if he knew that he was going to be promoted? How would believers feel if they really knew that God loved them, would never leave them, will meet all their needs, has forgiven them, and prepared an eternal home for them? There are many people in our churches who don’t feel loved by God and others who don’t feel like God’s children even though they are. Just telling them the truth may not have much of an impact, because they have believed something else for years. Chances are that those lies were deeply embedded during traumatic periods in their life. They mentally processed past traumas at the time without Christ. Now they can reprocess those events with the Holy Spirit as their guide and He will set them free.

Dr. Neil

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