When Feelings Fail You

By: Jill Briscoe

“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is light to you.” ~ Psalm 139: 11-12

It’s truly hard to cope with feelings that overwhelm us or, worse, to go through difficult times without any good or comforting feelings. When we deal with the unseen world—the world of faith and spiritual life—it’s even harder. When it’s so dark all around us that we can’t “see” or “feel” God at all, we are tempted to put our trust in a real, live, concrete person and not in an unseen Spirit. And, yet the growing we do at this level is really independent of feelings, sight, and touch. It has to do largely with the unseen, not the seen; the unknowable, not the knowable; and with God, not us. 

If there is one major lesson I have learned about myself in times of trouble, it is that I need to live in my knowings and not my feelings, because I cannot trust my feelings. My feelings leave me gasping and spluttering as I dive into the cold waters of trouble. This is hard for those of us who like to live our lives in the feeling realm. And it’s especially hard when we are hurting through our physical and emotional senses. 

Job struggled with this. He needed someone to touch him. He needed to feel his wife’s arms around him. But the Scriptures say she wouldn’t come near enough to comfort him with that loving touch he so desperately needed. “My breath is offensive to my wife,” he said. We get a sense of Job’s feelings about his feelings in chapter 23. Job wanted, about all else, to “connect” with God, to sense His real and necessary presence. But he couldn’t “find Him.” It was as if God did not exist in Job’s personal universe anymore. “If only I knew where to find Him,” he laments. “If only I could go to His dwelling! But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him” (Job 23:3,8). “Where is he?” Job cries out. He cannot see God’s face. He feels that God is hiding from him. Above all, Job longs to talk to God about it all, but God seems to be absent. And Job was feeling this for perhaps the very first time in his life. 

Have you ever felt that way? The Bible talks a lot about walking by faith and not by sight. The Word of God often uses metaphors of light shining in the darkness of our minds. This is the light of knowledge that God is, that God is there, that God is good, and that God is concerned with our well-being even when we don’t feel His presence. God’s face is always turned toward us, not away from us. Just because we don’t feel Him doesn’t mean He is absent. He is with us in our trouble—always. 

Jill Briscoe is the Founder and Executive Editor of Just Between Us magazine.