As a Christian it is okay to have feelings! It is okay to feel! You don’t have to appear strong when you feel that the floor is falling out from under you. You can cry, you can be afraid. You can slam your fist on the desk, you can scream. After all, didn’t Jesus have feelings?
We were driving north on S 300 W or was it S West Temple in downtown Salt Lake City? I think it was in September because I just went through all my testing prior to my stem cell transplant. We were hoping that my test results would be the approval to move forward into the most anxious phase of my treatment.
My cell phone rang. Dr. Greg Pollack was calling to report the findings to one of the tests. The PET/CT scan showed I had possible “residual” cancer in my psoas lymph nodes. There was some doubt as to whether or not it was residual cancer as the scan detected dimly “lit up” lymph nodes. But all the same, Dr. Greg said he and the team agreed that further treatment was necessary before I went for my autologous stem cell transplant.
I felt this sinking feeling and was devastated as Dr. Greg went on explaining the options that the team discussed and were available to me. It was all confusing information. But I took the news; I held on to it, I sifted through it and went on with treatment. What else could I do?
Three years, nine months later, the floor fell through. I finally allowed myself to feel the fear I felt that day when I was told, “Unfortunately, you are not 100% responsive to chemotherapy and the scan shows residual cancer.” Three years, nine months later I remember feeling as if I was backed into a corner by a monster that wanted to kill me. I felt defeated. I was afraid but I buried my emotions, namely fear.
As Christians, when we are faced with a crisis how should we respond? Is there a correct way? Am I to respond in the “strength of the Lord” and stoically move on? It sure helps all those around me. If I don’t show my fear then they won’t be fearful, they are comforted by my strength.
God was good in helping me be strong. I trusted in Him and in that, I trusted my medical team’s decisions in proceeding with further treatment. I did not let fear dominate, I did not panic and moved forward. This was a set back, there was nothing I could do but follow directions.
But I wonder if I allowed myself to feel emotions all through my cancer, would my psychological recovery have been easier? Different? Faster? I did trust God and God did grant me that “peace that surpasses our understanding” all through my illness. In being blessed with those gifts I was able to cope in the time of crisis. But now I do believe that we can have trust and peace and the freedom to express our emotions as emotions do cleanse our soul and maybe I would have been healthier by that continual washing.
Trust and Peace
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” (Jn. 14:1)
Jesus was telling his disciples He was going away. The disciples loved Him and this news was confusing and maybe for some distressing. Jesus wanted to assure them that it is better that He goes away so that they can do even greater things than He did while He was on earth, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” (v. 13) Glory to the Father.
“But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Glory to the Father . . . the Comforter will remind me just as He did with the disciples to trust in Him who went away.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (v. 27) Glory to the Father . . . the Comforter will remind me . . . trust and peace.
This peace is other worldly. John Piper refers to this peace as “the new world order.” Is this the peace of the new heaven and the new earth? Piper says no, that is not what Jesus is focusing in on. “‘Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid.’ He has in view your heart, and the peace of your heart, and the fearlessness of your heart, and the untroubled waters of your heart. He wants his people now, to be free from anxiety.”
Do not let your hearts be troubled . . trust . . Glory to the Father . . the Comforter will remind me . . peace . . Do not let you hearts be troubled.
“And he knows that the only kind of heart-peace the world can give is peace of mind based on good circumstances. If the world can take away our troubles – through health insurance, big savings accounts, the best oncologist in the nation, top research hospital, drugs and aggressive treatment – then the world can give some peace of mind.’ (italicized are my words)
“But Jesus says, ‘Not as the world gives do I give to you.’ Which means that his peace is not based on good circumstances. It is given, and it holds sway, in spite of bad circumstances. Here is how Jesus says it in John 16:33, ‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart in that tribulation; I have overcome the world.'”
His peace, not ours, is foundationally sure, it is immovable and irrevocable. It is there, it is true and it is everlasting. And nothing – nobody – will be able to take it from you. The waters of fear and anxiety may wash over you but the foundation of peace will not give way under your feet.
As we trust we are assured of peace but this doesn’t mean we are emotionless in the midst of trials and testings. Feeling emotion doesn’t mean we show any less glory to the Father nor does it mean that the Comforter hasn’t come to dwell in us, we are no less a Christian feeling and exposing our emotion.
Jesus had feelings and He wasn’t afraid to show them to his friends and those around him
- love – Mt 19:13-15, Jn 11:3, 36, 38
- wept – Jn 11:35, Lk 19:41
- anger – Mk 11:15
- sorrowful and troubled – Mt 26:38
- sense of abandonment – Mk 15:34
So it is okay to feel. We should all feel and in our feeling and expressing that feeling the Father is all the more glorified because we are turning ourselves over to the Comforter and allowing Him to do the work He was sent here to do. The Comforter brings to our soul the promised peace that does indeed transcend our human understanding and this, my friend, is to the glory of the Father!