Emotional Truth

When truth enters the heart, it immediately stimulates an emotional response. Only in the heart does the mind, emotion, and will come together in holistic unity. We have little or no direct control of our emotions. We cannot willfully change how we feel, but we do have control of what we think, and what we choose to believe. Our emotions are primarily a product of our thoughts. How we think and what we choose to believe affects how we feel.

Suppose your place of employment was laying off personnel. You have been a faithful employee for years and believe the current company downsizing won’t affect you. On Monday you get a message from your boss that he wants to see you Friday morning at 10:30 AM. How would you feel that week if you thought you were going to be laid off? You could get very depressed if you thought there was no hope for you to stay employed. You could get angry if you thought you were being treated unfairly. You would probably experience anxiety because of all the uncertainties. You may even be tempted to act upon some of your feelings. The truth is, you don’t know what the meeting is all about. You will probably be on an emotional roller coaster all week as your mind contemplates all the possibilities. Chances are you would be gripped by fear and apprehension as the moment of truth draws near. As you enter the office, you are greeted with applause by the management team who inform you that you have been promoted to vice-president. How would your feelings change after hearing the truth? If what we believe does not conform to truth, then what we feel does not conform to reality.

Notice how the writer of Lamentations feels as he mentally recalls negative circumstances. “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me” (Lam. 3:19). In the previous verses of chapter three, he is crediting God for all his dismal circumstances. He believes that God has driven him from light to darkness (vss. 1-6). He feels trapped and doesn’t believe that God hears his cry for help (vss. 7,8). Not only that, God has led him astray, pounced on him like a wild beast and pierced his heart with an arrow (vss. 9-13). He has become a laughingstock among his peers. All these negative circumstance and perceptions have left him bitter and without peace (vss. 14-18). His soul has become downcast because he mentally entertains all these thoughts.

Suddenly his whole countenance changes. “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (vss. 21-23). There was no change in his external circumstances. What changed was his mental process. He recalled to his mind the truth about God. It would do no good for someone to say he shouldn’t feel that way about God, because he couldn’t really change how he felt. He could, however, change how he thought and he did. When he chose to believe the truth about God, his emotions conformed to reality. We are not emotionally impacted by our environment alone. We are emotionally impacted by how we mentally interpret the circumstances of life and by what we have chosen to believe.

Dr. Neil

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