Choosing Faith over Feelings

Posted by Naomi Vacaro on

What to Do When You Don’t Feel God’s Love
By Katie Stone
Darlene Deibler Rose arrived in New Guinea as a newlywed to do missions work among unreached jungle tribes. However, shortly after her arrival, the world went to war and the Japanese invaded. Darlene and her husband were captured and sent to separate work camps.
While at the camp, Darlene was accused of being an American spy. The Japanese immediately moved her to one of the dreaded prisons where she was locked in solitary confinement on death row. Alone in her cell, Darlene tried to pray but felt enveloped in what she called a “spiritual vacuum.” She sat awaiting death, completely alone, feeling that even God had abandoned her. 
Have you ever cried out to God in a difficult situation only to feel like your prayers hit the ceiling? Have you ever felt like God doesn’t care about your situation or love you?
When we face these feelings, it’s easy to grow discouraged and begin to believe the lie that God does not love us and He has abandoned us. However, instead of allowing discouragement and disbelief to overwhelm her, Darlene responded in three important ways which I believe we can learn from and follow.
1. Search the Scriptures for truth.
After a moment of initial panic, Darlene said, “I sank to the floor and quietly and purposefully began to search the scriptures hidden in my heart.”
Rather than growing angry or bitter, she went to God’s word for answers. As Darlene searched her memory for Scripture, she recalled specific promises which strengthened her heart and restored her confidence in the Lord’s very near presence. Promises like, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, NKJV)
2. Choose faith over feelings.
After being assured that God would never leave her, Darlene chose to believe the Word of God even though she did not feel His presence.
She prayed, “Lord, I believe all that the Bible says. I walk by faith and not by sight. I do not need to feel You near, because Your Word says, You will never leave me nor forsake me. Lord, I confirm my faith; I believe.”
3. Rest in the Person of Jesus.
After Darlene’s declaration of faith, she chose to rest in Jesus. She said,
“The words of Hebrews 11:1 welled up, unbeckoned, to fill my mind: ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.‘ The evidence of things not seen. Evidence not seen—that was what I put my trust in—not in feelings or moments of ecstasy but in the unchanging Person of Jesus Christ. I was assured that my faith rested not on feelings, not on moments of ecstasy, but on the Person of my matchless, changeless Savior, in Whom is no shadow caused by turning. In a measure I felt I understood what Job meant when he declared, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him’ (Job 13:15). Job knew that he could trust God because Job knew the character of the One in Whom he had put his trust. It was faith stripped of feelings, faith without trappings. More than ever before, I knew that I could ever and always put my trust, my faith, in my glorious Lord. I encouraged myself in the Lord and His Word.”
Love is not primarily a feeling of ecstasy or comfort; love is the nature of our God (1 John 4:8, 16). He demonstrated His love for us by dying on the cross (1 John 4:9-10). Jesus is where we put our trust and where we find our rest. When I choose to believe the word of God, regardless of my feelings, and rest in this reality, my emotions often follow and come into alignment with my faith.
Next time it feels like God has abandoned you or doesn’t love you, try these suggestions.
Application Points:
Search the Scriptures for specific promises of God’s love and for truth about His character. (Some examples: Numbers 23:19; John 3:16; Romans 5:8, 8:31-39; Hebrews 13:5; 1 John 4:16)
Choose to believe God’s Word is true even if it doesn’t feel true. Put your faith into action by telling the Lord in prayer you believe His Word is true and then praise Him for His promises.
Rest in the Person of Jesus. If you don’t already know the character of Christ, go back to step one and search the scriptures to learn who Jesus is. In both the moments we feel God’s love and the moments where there is no feeling at all, Jesus remains the same.
Rose, Darlene Deibler. Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in a Japanese Prison Camp during WWII. Harper & Row, 1988.
About Katie: Loves an urban cafe as much as the smell of campfire and pine. Works in communications while studying business and non-fiction writing, and  is most happy when leading worship and discipling others. 

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