Image by Arnett Gill via Flickr
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
After my last Word For Today post I got to thinking about faith and emotions. It's a big question and one I grapple with a lot. It's true that people are different and some are more ruled by emotion and intuition than their heads. I am the former. When it comes to faith and spirituality this can create a few conundrums for me. On the one hand I am invited by God to walk in joy, peace and fulfilment, finding satisfaction in the amazing Presence of the Holy Spirit, and on the other hand I am not to rely on emotions that may be fleeting and transient, although I hope that in the new creation these positive emotions will be permanent!
As I write, I am not unaware of some of the appropriate theological answers. Yes, His Presence is a fact and not necessarily felt; I live in an imperfect world where my emotions are damaged; maybe there is another spiritual force which can affect my feelings; spiritual joy is very deep and not related to what I feel (I never quite got that one!). But I am a little uncomfortable when I hear preachers say we shouldn't listen to our emotions. God is emotional and he made me in His image. He can be angry (Ps 2:12), jealous (Zch 1:14-15), merciful (Ps 78:38), and joyful (Dt 30:9). Emotions are not bad and when they affect my relationship with God they are to be listened to, and maybe even trusted.
Our church community has been going through a very difficult time in the last few years and you could say the emotional life of the community has been extremely strained. Someone said to me, "there is no feeling anymore". That may be subjective, but it's important nonetheless. Finding spiritual life in such an atmosphere is a challenge to say the least. I am rambling I suppose, but I'm interested in how others approach this. When someone says "Our faith is based on God's revelation, not on our emotions", how does that work in practice if you are a sensing, introverted type as opposed to a rational, thinking type? I'd love to hear your thoughts.