Thursday, May 14, 2015

How Having a Sovereign God Affects Our Emotions

All sorts of interesting things happen at the eye doctor. I find it even more intriguing because I can't see it from an outside viewpoint. So last time I finally asked a question I had wanted to ask for years. "Does that instrument actually touch my eye?" I usually chose to not think about it and simply sit there but this year I asked. The eye doctor looked at me for a few moments and then said, "Yes, it does. And I only told you that because you asked so calmly. If you had been freaking out 'DOES THAT TOUCH MY EYE??' I would have denied it all day long." 

That encounter cracked me up but it told me something: we don't do ourselves any favors freaking out. Out-of-control behavior doesn't benefit anyone. Of course there's the "hysterical female"  stereotype. You know, the one that says that women can't be calm. The one that says we have no choice but to yell, or sob uncontrollably, and be incapable of thinking rationally about anything in a crisis or when something doesn't go our way. 

I don't believe this has to be true. When Gabriel came to tell Mary that she was going to have Jesus you don't see her wringing her hands and yelling, "Oh my goodness! What does this mean? How am I going to explain this!!" Esther didn't get all hysterical when she found out Haman's evil plan. Ruth calmly went to Boaz to ask for his protection and marriage. Abigail followed a well-thought-out plan when she went to David to beg forgiveness for her evil husband Nabal. 

Our belief in a sovereign God that guides our lives and holds the universe and eternity in His hands is what calms our hearts. Esther knew that, as Mordecai said, she might have come into the kingdom for such a time as this. She knew that God was in control. He had a plan and she could trust Him. Jael didn't freak out when Sisera showed up at her tent. She won the victory for the whole nation. Deborah went boldly into battle because she knew that was God's will. 

This doesn't mean we won't feel strong emotions. We will find ourselves in situations where it would be natural to panic or succumb to fear and uncertainty. But we don't have to be guided by our feelings. Feelings take over when all we see in a situation is ourselves. 

We don't need some great confidence in ourselves and strong self-control. We simply need to see our lives in light of what really is. God holds everything in His hands. He knows everything. He controls everything. He is always at work in our lives. We can trust Him. 

That knowledge allows us to be calm during crisis. That knowledge allows us to control ourselves enough not to scream "IS THAT TOUCHING MY EYE!?" That knowledge gives us strength when life tries to topple us over. 

When we see beyond ourselves to a God that sustains and leads us, we can step into each  moment with inner strength. We can find comfort knowing that God is not surprised and He isn't confused. We rest in His certainty.