So much of our every day life revolves around feelings. Think about it, it's how we roll as a human race. "If it feels good do it", "I'm just not feeling it man", "You hurt my feelings", "I've lost that loving feeling", "I don't feel good", "I feel wonderful", it is how God made us, to feel and to eventually understand how to manage our feelings in a positive way. Even in death there is joy, in heartbreak there is always a new adventure just around the corner, in a loss (this one still hurts from Saturday), there is always tomorrow to win again. Like it or not, feelings dominate the way we make decisions.
Think of Thomas. For years he followed Jesus, only to watch him die like a common criminal instead of the Messiah he thought he was. How excited he must have been for those 3 years to watch the crowds, see the healing, experience the miracles and hear the exact words of God. But how low he actually was when all was lost....(inject yourself right about here)....he wasn't feeling the love, the hope, the encouragement, he was downright stunned! His Messiah was gone.
And then something happens that we have famously criticized him for.......when told Jesus had come back to life he didn't believe, instead he became the doubting Thomas. "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I won't believe" were his words. He was told by witnesses who had seen the Lord, but he just didn't feel the joy others had. He needed proof.....(inject ourselves here again).
How often I hear the words, "I just don't feel it man". In recovery people come in, start fast, get religion, then fade because they just aren't feeling it. They don't feel that the benefits of getting straightened out outweigh the cost of facing reality. Bills to pay, back taxes, parole, ex's, amends....the list goes on and can certainly make you feel stress, anxiety and hopeless. Others, facing just every day problems, feel like as long as everything is going their way, they are doing good things, therefore all should go well.....they are smiling and feeling spiritually grounded. Then, BOOM, the bottom falls out, the loss of a job, husband cheating, can't make the mortgage, again, different situation but same hopelessness. Now you know how Thomas felt. Our life feels worthless.
As all scripture does, this situation facing Thomas teaches us something. Jesus tried to tell him for years he was coming back, but he wasn't listening. He showed him the full extent of his love through the healing and miracles he performed, and also taught him every day. You see, as long as Thomas was feeling it he was okay. But Jesus also showed him multiple lessons of faith others had, faith stories about holding on even in the midst of a storm, about believing God has our backs each and every moment we live, no matter how bad it looks. Thomas forgot that, and so have I. Maybe you have too.
You see, in my life I lived by feelings for so long that converting to having faith in anything other than that which was right in front of me was unheard of. I had absolutely the wrong feeling of love, the wrong attitude of forgiveness, and not very good feelings for my fellow man. I was a non-believer that God would have anything to do with me. But Jesus changed all of that, and maybe in the story of Thomas, he can change all of that for you as well.
More importantly, look around at how others have been transformed, healed and set free and when you are not feeling it, ask them to help you catch a new
outlook. Or go to a Home Depot, grab a few 10" spikes, buy a good strong heavy duty hammer, and then go out in your back yard. Put the spike on top of your left hand (if you are right handed that is), hold the hammer in the other and then nail it in. That should make you feel it! Or maybe give you a little insight as to how much pain the Lord endured to show his faith in us.
I so remember the Bible Study I was in many years ago, when Carl Wade passed around those spikes to us all to make this point. Faith has absolutely nothing to do with feelings, it is all about letting go of them. Want to recover, let go. Want to heal, let go. Want to feel it, let go and then wait for confirmation from the Lord himself. Our God has continually confirmed faith with answers throughout the Bible in chapter after chapter, so why wouldn't it do it or us?
Need proof, go read it, but in every instance, faith was the answer to the problem.
In the conclusion of the story of Thomas, Jesus uttered these words, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed". Unlike Thomas we can't touch the nail marks, feel his wounds, but we can see the hurt in looking at those spikes, and we can look around and see that the rest of this human race has been greatly affected by the cost he paid to redeem us. Miracles of life are everywhere!
If it was up to feelings, God may have certainly felt like we weren't were the effort. But he didn't, and he won't ever forget how important we are, even when we have doubts. Ask Thomas when you see him.
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.