We’ve probably all heard the advice to “follow your heart”. Whilst this advice is well‑intentioned, Matthew Thornton explains why he doesn’t think it is the way we should be living as Christians.
It seems apparent to me as if the world we live in encourages us to be led by emotion and feelings. As Christians, we don’t follow our hearts, we follow Jesus. What this means is that our lives are directed by God’s truth and not by our feelings, which are prone to wandering and fluctuation. It means that each emotion we feel is evaluated in light of his Word.
How comforting to know that our self-worth and self‑esteem are beyond our present feelings about ourselves. We aren’t defined by how we feel about ourselves; rather, we are defined by who Jesus says we are.
What I’ve come to realise is that, sometimes, the greatest enemy to God’s truth is our own feelings.
There are often times when our feelings align with God’s truth. However, there are also times when they don’t. It is then that we need to remind ourselves of his truth and choose to believe, through faith, what he says about us, instead of what our feelings may convince us.
When we feel worthless, we remind ourselves that he says we are worthy (1 Corinthians 6:11).
When we feel hopeless, we remind ourselves of the hope he gives (1 Peter 1:3-5).
When we feel like a failure, we remind ourselves that he has already won (John 16:33).
Lauren Daigle captures this beautifully in the chorus of her song ‘You Say’:1
You say I am loved when
I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when
I think I am weak
You say I am held when
I am falling short
When I don’t belong,
oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
Or, as spoken word artist Joseph Solomon puts it: “faith over feelings”.
God in the silence
How comforting to know also that our relationship with God is more than our feelings of connectedness with him. There are times when I feel ‘on fire for Jesus’ but there are also times that I feel distant from him.
Following God in seasons of spiritual barrenness or ‘dryness’ can be the toughest. They are tough because it feels as if we have fallen out of favour with God.
But, communion with God is more than just the words he speaks to us. God can move in the silence too. For if words can communicate meaning, so can the lack of them. It is in these times of silence that we need to rely on faith, not feelings, believing that the never‑changing God hasn’t abandoned us.
There seems to be profound power in periods of silence throughout the Bible. It takes 38 chapters in Job before God speaks. The Psalms often cry out that God is silent. And let’s not forget the silence of Easter Saturday where Jesus lay dead for a whole day.
But you see, if we seek God and continue to obey his commandments, his Spirit will never leave us (John 14:15‑17). So, if we are doing these things yet the Spirit still seems to remain silent, well then, we need to have faith that God is still working in that.
Periods of silence can prompt us into rest and reflection and can sometimes allow us to grieve and lament. I haven’t figured out exactly why we experience these seasons, but I suppose a large part of it has got to do with the fact that we aren’t home yet. We are still wandering in a foreign land, waiting to return home.
What is important is that during these times we continue to pursue God and continue to seek him.
Knowing that I have nothing to fear in this time, and that my relationship with God is more than these feelings of connectedness, gives me strength to persevere, a willingness to be obedient, and patience to endure it until I hear his gentle and tender whisper once again.
I thank God
I thank God for his truth that allows us to live a life by faith. I thank God that I am more than the sum of my emotions and feelings—both regarding my self-esteem and my relationship with him.
I thank God that who he says I am is what matters and I thank God that he can still work in periods of silence.
It is my encouragement that we continue to seek his word and continue to seek him. Let us get to know his truth deeply so that it can lead us through life and keep us steady.
“Faith over feelings.”
Story: Matthew Thornton
Matthew attends Windsor Park Baptist Church. He is currently studying at the University of Auckland. He finds that writing is one of the prime ways he connects with and grows closer to God. He loves seeing the way in which God has wired everyone uniquely and finds immense fulfilment in seeing others discover who God is to them. He would love to hear from you firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published by Christian Today and is used with permission.
- Songwriters: Paul Mabury / Lauren Ashley Daigle / Jason Ingram. You Say lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC.
Unless otherwise specified, Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright ©1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.