Summary: September 1989: We can work through our feelings to victory if we are totally honest with God about what we feel, and then if we are able to praise Him joyfully when we are released.
Recently a television reporter followed up on the people who survived that air travel incident in which a huge section of the plane simply tore off, somewhere near Hawaii. You may remember that there was some kind of metal fatigue and a whole section of the plane suddenly broke out and about nine people were sucked right out of the plane to their deaths.
The television reporter got together as many of the survivors as he could and asked them their feelings, asked them how their lives had changed since then.
Some said they felt guilty to be alive, that they did not deserve to be alive when others did not survive.
Still others said they felt that living was more precious, that they would live today for today and not worry as much as they used to about tomorrow.
Another reported that she now caught herself evaluating the way she treated her daughter. Whereas before the incident she had been awfully hard on her daughter and had insisted that this fifteen-year-old clean up, fix up, and shape up, now she would catch herself thinking, "Wait a minute; maybe that’s not so important. Just love her, just take joy in her. " More now on feelings, relationships.
As for the pilot of the plane, credited with heroism in getting what was left of the aircraft down to safety, he is now retired from flying and says that he goes out on the deck of his home every morning, a little surprised to find himself alive, and thanks the Lord for the privilege of another day. He has turned in his feelings to a profound relationship with God.
Various people have reacted in different ways, you see, but what is common to them all? What word did you hear me use to describe each one of them?
Feelings; feelings. All of them are living out of their feelings. All of them are living out of their emotions. All of them went through something that cannot be handled just by thinking about it or making decisions or rationalizing. For every one of them it is an experience that did something to the way they feel. They are living out of their feelings.
Our feelings are the trickiest part of our selves. They are tricky because we are halfway ashamed of having feelings, but on the other hand we are not in control of what we feel. We go to a funeral, we attend a wedding, we get into some very special circumstance, and we hear our voices choke and know that our eyes are tearing up, and what do we do? We apologize. We turn our feelings inward and virtually deny them, or at least apologize for them.
Our feelings are tricky, too, because they really unmask what we are at the very center of our beings. What we feel is what we are. Some of us are able to be very much in control of our professional selves; we hack the computer or dispense the medicine or apply the policy according to strict guidelines, without letting personal feelings intervene, and we call that professionalism. But then things happen that get to us personally, emotionally, and our feelings seem to play tricks on us.
Nurses working at D. C. General and other hospitals where the boarder babies are – those children born to mothers who are drug addicts and who are unable and unwilling to take their babies home – nurses attending these babies find themselves, against all the patterns of professional practice, wanting to mother the babies, give them names, bring them gifts, play with them, feel for them.
Feelings are tricky and will take you over. Feelings seem often to be out of control. But is that bad? Is that wrong? I don’t think so. Feelings represent who we are at the very core and center of our being.
I believe that our feelings are important to God. What we are feeling about ourselves and our lives at any given moment will have a profound effect on our relationship to God. And for most of us, that means our feelings will affect our prayers. What we feel, our emotional state, will show up in our prayers. And that matters to God.
Last week I introduced you to Hezekiah, King of Judah in the late eighth century before Christ. Last week we saw Hezekiah faced with a military and political crisis of tremendous proportions; we saw him faced with what I called destructive opposition. Outside his gates the army of the enemy stood, waiting to destroy; but even worse than the weapons of the Assyrian soldiers, as you will recall, were the tactics, the destructive, corrosive tactics of the Assyrian ambassadors.
That crisis led King Hezekiah to resort to prayer. You will remember that he first enlisted his good friend, Isaiah the prophet, to pray for him. And then a little later Hezekiah himself found the words and the trust to pray and gain victory.