Emotions bring the spice and flair to the human experience. They truly are the colors of life. Without them, we're only two-dimensional shades of gray.
As fallen human beings, however, living in a fallen world, we aren't given the privilege to pick and choose which emotions we will experience in our lives. While we appreciate and value all the love, serenity and exhilaration we can wrap our arms around, we also have to deal with the darker side of the emotional spectrum. What about frustration? What about worry? What about anger, guilt and depression?
Most of us would rather not have to experience any of those undesirable emotions. And we really don't like it when the negative emotions run away with our joy and peace. Nevertheless, we have to deal with life as it comes, and we don't get to avoid all of those unpleasant feelings on this side of heaven.
But even those negative emotions -- the darker and more difficult ones -- are important. In fact, they reveal a great deal about who we are and where we are in life.
A smoke alarm
I believe that negative emotions are used by God much like a smoke alarm. As everyone knows, a smoke alarm is an important life-saving device designed to get our attention when the smoke of a fire is present.
The way we successfully deal with the blaring smoke alarm is to find the fire and douse the flames. Silencing the alarm by snipping the wires will only lead to ruin and devastation. The alarm is not the problem; the fire is.
Since the Bible makes it clear that we have been made in the image of God, even in our fallen state we can know with certainty that God didn't create us to live a life of depression, worry, insecurity and loneliness. Those undesirable feelings reveal a deeper problem.
The good news is we can trace the emotional pain, via the blueprint of the image of God, and find the source of the fire. We can then deal with the real issue and silence the nagging, blaring pain.
The example of loneliness
All of us have experienced the hurt of loneliness at one time or another. What is the message in that emotion? Well, loneliness is an alarm that tells you that your God-given desire for companionship is on fire.
God is a relational God (there is perfect relationship, harmony and companionship in the Trinity), and He made us with a need and a desire for relationships and meaningful companionship -- "It is not good for the man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18).
When that need for companionship is not being met, you and I experience the emotional pain of loneliness, feeling isolated, unloved and unwanted.
The world's remedy to solve this problem is to find someone who will love us, spend time with us and show sincere interest in us. But God's remedy is much different. He doesn't tell us to find a friend, He tells us to be a friend. He tells us to give, and it will be given in return.
If you sow seeds of friendship, you will reap a crop of friends. Giving is the key, because when you give, God gives back to you. It is true in finances, and it is true in friendships.
In my book "Runaway Emotions," I provide readers with a fresh understanding of God's strategy for dealing with eight of the most common negative emotions: embarrassment, worry, anger, discontentment, frustration, guilt, loneliness and depression.
Every emotion discussed is rooted in Scripture and replete with biblical illustrations to help us clearly see God's way to victory. I believe God wants to show us why we feel the way we do and what He wants us to do about it so we can silence the painful alarm of those dark feelings and enjoy life to the full with love, peace and joy reigning supreme.
Jeff Schreve is pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas, and founder of From His Heart Ministries, online at fromhisheart.org. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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