Faith or Feelings
by Shery Abdelmalek
Faith = the belief in the unseen. A belief that is unwavering through trials and external circumstances.
Feelings = ever changing and temperamental.
While having no comparison, when feelings are confused for faith, turmoil naturally results. We begin praying only when we feel like it and as a result, we inadvertently neglect God, our First Love, when we don’t.
What good excuse is there to put the love of your life on hold? Does anyone in a relationship ever take massive long breaks from their beloved and expect things to remain the same when they return? No chance.
You can make all the excuses you want. You can convince yourself that being apart from Him is the best decision for the moment. You can even, as the prodigal son did, choose to live and eat amongst a pigsty because you don’t feel like going home just yet – you can make it on your own. While you make these compromises within yourself, that is your very own pigsty. A pigsty that the devil has blinded you to believe is your own palace.
Even the devil used scripture in an attempt to convince Jesus to fall into temptation. Any word or phrase in the Bible can be twisted to suit any agenda. It all starts with one feeling. One feeling you don’t want to let go of. When a feeling or a thought becomes the cornerstone of our belief system, internal confusion and chaos result.
This is why we value faith – it remains constants throughout all trials and tribulations. St Paul says we walk by faith, not by sight. We can read this and think that faith must be the opposite of sight. That would mean faith is blind. Faith is not synonymous with being blind. Faith is seeing through spiritual eyes, and not earthly. Faith is believing in the One that has delivered you time and time again, will continue to do so. We must remain steadfast in our faith. The Word of God that took Flesh remains throughout all hurdles. The blessing of these hurdles is lost when we let go of faith and look with earthly eyes.
When feelings override faith, external influences begin to dictate our inward selves. The spirit doesn’t stand a chance. This is stage one of a faith that is slipping toward the desires of the flesh. Elder Thaddeus explains this saying:
“As soon as a desire or a worldly thought enters our mind, God immediately sends a warning. Instead of coming to our senses and blocking such thoughts and desires, we nurture them and long for them, and afterwards we wonder why bad things happen to us. These signs of warning come in the form of temptations.”
When temptations are not fought, the soul begins to suffer. Prayers change according to what has happened in the world around us on any particular day. You may have had a great day, you may have had the worst day imaginable.
Through it all, let one phrase be the pinnacle of your thoughts – It is what it is.
Controlling emotions is no easy task but we gain strength in feeding the spirit over the desires of the flesh. If the spirit is strong, there is little influence external events and circumstances can have. Feed the spirit before you feed body. Elder Thaddeus continues on saying:
“Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture. If our thoughts are peaceful, calm, meek and kind, then that is what our life is like. If our attention is turned to the circumstances in which we live, we are drawn into a whirlpool of thoughts and can have neither peace nor tranquillity.”
The devil may trap you, through feelings, to believe you can go one day without His providence, weeks, months, years even. He may lead you to believe that He will never take you back. 2 minutes of repentance can cleanse years of separation. One step toward the Saviour of us all is all it takes. Sit with yourself, alone, for 2 minutes and talk to Him. Return to Him and He will return to you. The second He sees you coming from a distance, He will run to greet you. There is no shame attached. 2 minutes is all it takes, especially when we don’t feel like it. You don’t think the devil knows how to keep you away? He’s being doing this for much longer than you or I have been alive. All those doubts you have, the devil is the author of them all.
Don’t forget the One who made you and gave you the authority to trample over serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy. You belong to God, don’t let the devil let you think otherwise. There is no good excuse to remain away. No sin too great He can’t forgive. No weakness. No sorrow. It’s amazing the doubts and excuses the devil can implant when we just don’t feel like praying. They can built up so much in the mind when in reality, God is waiting earnestly to greet you. Elder Thaddeus explains this cycle as follows:
“A person who is entrapped in the vicious cycle of chaotic thoughts, in the atmosphere of hades, or has only so much as touched, feels the torment of hell. For example, we read the newspaper or take a walk in the streets, and afterwards we suddenly feel that something is not quite right in our souls; we feel an emptiness; we feel sadness. That is because by reading all sorts of things, our mind becomes distracted and the atmosphere of hades has free access to our minds.”
Fight to discipline the feelings that come and go, only then will you have inward peace. In closing, Elder Thaddeus puts it best:
“This is how we must live – controlling our thoughts. It is not good to dwell on every thought that comes to us otherwise we lose our peace. If we learn to refuse such proposals, we are quiet. We do not fantasize or create any images in our mind.”
All quotes taken from “Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica”