“Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
Psalm 42:11 HCSB
Feelings can fire you up. Feelings can also take you down. Feelings can deceive you. Feelings can empower you. Feelings can be a blessing and a curse depending on how you deal with them.
A follower of Jesus is not immune to all those feelings either. God created us with emotions. That is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be a great thing. Consider how much better a wedding, a birth, a promotion, a completed project, a new idea, a raise, a team win, etc., is because of the emotional reaction to each. But, we must learn how to learn from and enjoy these emotions rather than allow them to control us. A “fisher of men” must learn how to deal with his feelings or they can actually keep him from “fishing for men.”
Can you hear the feelings that scream pain in the Psalmist’s heart in this passage? The psalmist is depressed and can’t understand why. It obviously bothers him or he wouldn’t express these feelings so often throughout this Psalm. But it’s interesting that he follows up his expression of pain by telling himself to “put your hope in God.” What’s that all about?
Feelings can be a thermometer or a thermostat in your life. When you feel down or feel up, depressed or exhilarated, angry or sad, lonely or satisfied, etc., it’s so easy and natural for those feelings to become a thermometer in your life. These feelings can become decision makers in your life. They can become an excuse for procrastinating, overreacting, or poor performance. In fact, negative feelings, if treated as a thermometer, will intensify and create additional negative feelings that eventually paralyze you.
But notice how the Psalmist deals with his depression. He treats it as a thermostat. Rather than simply identify the temperature, he chooses to do what is necessary to change the temperature. He talks to himself, and us, and says to “put your hope in God.” He recommits himself to “praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
Jesus said that knowing the truth will set you free. It’s so important that we spend time in the Scriptures discovering the truth so we know how to deal with life’s curve balls, such as unexpected emotions. Once you know the truth, then it’s a matter of choosing to live the truth. The Psalmist chose to “put his hope in God” even when he didn’t feel like it. That’s using your feelings as a thermostat.
Don’t ignore your feelings. But also, don’t allow your feelings to control you. Look to the Lord for answers in His Word and then do what He says. Sometimes feelings can help, sometimes they are an indication that you are not trusting Him.
As a “fisher of men” we can’t afford to allow our emotions to control us. We are on mission and too many people need the Lord. This is true, whether we feel it or not.