Last month we began a series of articles on how to biblically deal with unwanted feelings.
I used part of an e-mail from a friend to kick off our discussion, so I will share that again.
I woke up hurting and aching about the adoption this morning, and the feeling never left. Seeking HIM and seeking the peace and clarity that only HE can give.
Could you please pray for me to find my comfort in Christ? And to trust HIM. If you have time, could you please send me a Scripture that brings you comfort in times of loss? I will meditate on it. Amy
Amy had just learned that a newborn adoption her family had been pursuing wasn’t going to work out, and she was feeling sad. We will all face emotions that are painful, from grieving to loneliness to anxiety. Amy’s sadness wasn’t wrong; it was a normal emotion that comes when there is a loss. However, what she does with that emotion when it arises will most likely determine whether she becomes consumed by her grief or whether she experiences the comfort that the God of all comfort offers her, allowing her to move healthily through her sadness.
As an example, I have interacted with several moms who have lost loved ones, and when they write to me they have become immobilized by their grief. When we give in to self-pity in our sadness, then we are dealing with unwanted feelings. So often we will discover that our unwanted feelings are rooted in our own selfishness. We don’t get what we want. Things don’t go the way we prefer them to go. The children don’t do what we told them to do. Our husbands aren’t communicating the way we would like them to communicate. The foundation of the unwanted feelings is bound up in selfish thoughts that we might not even recognize or be willing to acknowledge.
In February’s article, we evaluated Amy’s cry for prayer support. We learned that when we make such a cry, we are requesting His strength in our weakness and His grace that is sufficient. As we cry out for His mercy, we are taking our focus off ourselves and putting it onto the One Who cares the most for us. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
We also saw that praying with thanksgiving moves our focus off of our pain and onto our blessings: self-thoughts then migrate to grateful thoughts.
The next step in dealing with negative feelings is to seek the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what Amy said she was doing: seeking Him, His peace, and His clarity. For Amy’s need, He is the God of all comfort. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
One clear way we seek the Lord Jesus is by being in His Word. “And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4). When we are in His Word on a daily basis, He is growing us, teaching us, comforting us, and nurturing us. In many ways, we are like those newborn babies we love so dearly. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). We have to desire the sincere milk of the Word if we want to grow spiritually.
We are prone, though, to make excuses as to why we aren’t in the Word. It usually has to do with being too busy, too tired, or too forgetful. Yet that busyness, tiredness, and forgetfulness make it all the more imperative that we keep our priorities correct and that we receive the daily spiritual milk and bread that we need to be the spiritual women God wants us to be.
As we are in the Word, we receive His comfort in times of grief, we learn how to deal with loneliness, we become more patient, we discover how to love, and so much more. As all of that is developing in us, the negative feelings will control us less and less. It is truly the fruit of the Spirit evidenced in our lives. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Amy was also seeking the Lord by asking for specific Scripture that would meet the need of her grieving heart. As we find those verses, read them, and even memorize them, we have a powerful tool in our hands for attacking negative feelings, whether they are feelings of grief that want to overwhelm or feelings of anger that want to lash out. “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
Here are some verses that Amy could read and even memorize. Consider how they would help to bring comfort to her heart.
“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” (Job 1:20-22)
“In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:19)
“This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.” (Psalm 119:50)
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (Ephesians 6:16)
When you have those unwanted negative feelings this month, I challenge you to pray and ask the Lord to take those feelings from you. Turn your thoughts to ones of gratitude to the Lord for the blessings He has placed in your life. I also suggest that you determine right now that you are going to be committed to spending time reading your Bible every day so that you are renewing your mind. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). Finally memorize some key verses in the areas where you most frequently have negative feelings so that you have your ammunition available with which to attack those feelings.
Join me next month as we continue our consideration of how to deal with unwanted feelings.