Friday, 29 October 2010

Feelings and Faith

What happens when we are feeling sad, down, depressed? When we just have one of those days or if things are not going well? Do we give up? Or do we keep running the race set before us?

In a small group this week we ended up talking about praising God all the time. That the first chapter of Ephesians tells us that this is the ultimate point of our salvation: ‘To the praise of his glorious grace’. Someone said that this means that we should praise God the whole time. But I think this is not the case. After all there is a book in the Bible called lamentations, and there are psalms of lament, and then we have Job.

All of these describe people who are bringing everything before God, not just the good bits but the whole of there lives. Their lives are not perfect yet they bring the whole of their lives before God. Before we start to think that this is simply an Old Testament phenomenon, in the New Testament we are told to ‘bring everything before God in prayer and petition’. Yet bringing everything to God does not imply doubt in God’s goodness or power. Job brought his complaints before God yet still believed in him and knew that he was loved by him.

After all if you are truly in a relationship with someone you don’t only tell them the good things. They know a whole plethora of things about you from the big things down to the minutia. How superficial would your relationship be if the whole time that something was wrong you were pretending that everything was fine?

Another problem with the idea that we should be constantly praising God is that when we feel down and don’t praise God it becomes easier to doubt the truth because we then ‘can’t’ bring how we are feeling before God. Thus our relationship with God ends up depending on our fickle feelings. To avoid this dependence on our feelings we need to know the truth in our head. We need to be imbued by the word, its knowledge percolating our whole being. So that when we don’t feel like praising God, when things are going badly, we still know that our salvation is secure in Christ and that God does indeed love us, even if we’re not feeling it.


  1. An interesting topic. As you've said, we shouldn't be relying on anything we do / feel to secure our salvation (Ephesians 2:8,9). We are called to praise God for many things (see most of the Psalms!), and I wouldn't say it's impossible to praise God during hard times (Job 1:21), but it is not demanded that we praise him all the time. He understands our hardships (Hebrews 4:15), and knows that we won’t always find it easy.

    I was considering how we can praise/ glorify God ( Philippians1:10-12 being similar to your verse in Ephesians:

    “so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

    Would you agree we can bring him glory in doing what he asks of us (eg: by bringing “everything before God in prayer and petition”)? So even when we are not feeling up to much, if we trust and obey him then this still brings him glory (1 Corinthians 10: 31)?

    Perhaps our purpose can still be to praise and bring glory to God even if that purpose can’t be completely fulfilled right now. Many things can only be partial whilst we are here on earth (1 Corinthians 13:12). How great will it be in heaven where there is nothing to get in the way! (revelation 7:9 - 17)

  2. Thank you for your comment, I think you're right that God's purposes for us are not fully realised at the moment. We should still praise God but if that is too hard we still honour God by remember his promises, trusting in his faithfullness and relying on his strength to see us through the tough times.