One of the biggest problems in the life of faith is not knowing the difference between faith and feelings. For example, we are worried about something, we come into the presence of the LORD, we pour our heart out, cry and pray. And immediately a peace envelops us and we are satisfied that we have faith and that the faith triumphed.
But we see in the world, when something goes wrong, someone is hurt deeply, they cry out loud. Why? Because it is cathartic and therapeutic; it unloads your burden and lightens your heart. And you feel a sense of calmness after that. But can we say that it is faith? Of course, not. It is the same way we feel calm after crying our heart out in prayer. The calmness is based on our feelings, and it is not faith.
When we say such things, it hurts many people. I am often asked: “So, what is wrong in that? What is wrong in thinking it is faith and receiving comfort for a little while?” And I am still being asked. The problem is people assume that I am trying to point a finger at them. No, no way. This is not to point a mistake on your part or blame you for anything. This is for our own goodness sake. Let me explain it using the Bible.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord. – James 1:6-7
James points out that when we ask something from God, we should have faith. If we doubt, then we will be like waves of sea that are tossed around by the wind. We all know what happens to waves when the wind is blowing hard. One moment, the wave reaches the top and the next moment, it crashes down. Again, it rises, only to fall again. And James says a man who is like that will not receive anything, anything at all, from God.
Now if we mistake our feelings as faith, we have a serious problem, for our feelings are affected by many factors. Even a small change in weather could affect our moods. We may be feeling well, but a sudden rain or a burning sun could dampen our feelings. Even the food we eat affects the way we feel. Some foods make us happy, while some of them make us drowsy. The songs we listen have profound effect on our feelings.
Now, imagine this. We are praying, and after the prayer, we feel we are doing good and our faith is as strong as it could be. This is when the wave goes up. Then something goes wrong, or the next day we wake up, and we are just feeling like today is not our day. Now the wave comes down. Then we pray a little more or some good news reaches, again we feel we are back to our faith and the wave goes up. Then we fall again. The cycle keeps going up and down. As a result, we do not receive anything from God. And finally we say: “Oh, even that day itself, I had a feeling deep inside me that this is not going to work.” This is the problem when we think the way we feel is faith.
So, let us make a decision this day. Let us not trust the way we feel, but let us strive for the true faith that depends solely on the immutable Word of God. Amen.