“I Don’t Feel Like It!”
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Ghost you may abound in hope.”
Joy and peace in believing sounds at times like an oxymoron. They seem more like the result of a promise or hope fulfilled than helpers while waiting for that manifestation to appear. Walking by faith for me more often resembles a roller coaster ride than a smooth cake walk. The longer the wait the greater the challenge it is to keep joy and peace center stage. I wish it wasn’t so, but it’s usually how things play out.
Paul understood our need for supernatural assistance in this area. Holy Spirit’s power keeps us abounding in hope. Biblical hope isn’t wishful thinking. “Hmm, if I won the lottery I’d….” It’s the confident expectation that what one believes will come to pass.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12
It’s hard to stand for a protracted period without evidence of progress. Joy and peace sustain us through the wait. My problem is keeping these two rascals in place; they seem to sneak out and slip away too easily.
I know all the “right” things to do: pray, focus on God’s Word, pray more, sow into other’s lives, pray longer, guard my thoughts and speech, pray without ceasing; all these work. Things break down because of me. I don’t faithfully do them because “I Don’t Feel Like It.” As opposed to flowing in Holy Spirit’s power I’m gritting my teeth and digging in my heels; self effort as opposed to supernatural strength. Proverbs stresses the importance of joy and peace while believing: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” Discouragement and fatigue arise and paint a hopeless picture. “Just quit” they whisper, “you already feel like giving up. Don’t fight it anymore.”
Ignore the lies. Proverbs also reminds us that hope fulfilled is as “a tree of life.” This isn’t a scrawny “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree”; imagine a mighty sequoia. A tree of life has roots that hold it steadfast in adverse conditions. Fully mature and developed, the tree sustains itself and provides for the needs of others. The natural realm mirrors the spirit realm. Real trees take years (groan) to grow to maturity; no short cuts there or in spiritual growth.
Joy and peace are states of mind, not emotions like happiness. Feelings are facts but not always the truth. This unusual example illustrates the point. When
(Magnetic Resonance Imaging) technology was developed and the first machines built,
the factory offered free screenings to the employees. One worker discovered he
had an inoperable brain tumor and subsequently died as the result. This man
felt fine, a fact. The truth was, despite his feelings, he had a terminal
illness. If I feel unhappy it doesn’t mean I don’t have joy. Confusion and
uncertainty don’t mean I’ve lost my peace. My feelings may mask the truth but
my faith walk isn’t determined by how I feel. It’s based on what is true.
Telling our self and others “I Don’t Feel Like It” when it comes to doing what’s necessary to maintain my joy and peace is a cop out. We’re all experts at doing what we don’t want to. We get up and out of bed in the morning when we’d rather sleep in. We go to work when we’d rather be anywhere else but there. We’re nice to people when we’d rather chop them off at the knees. We pay our taxes even though we know some of those responsible for spending them are incompetent idiots. I can even eat chocolate cake when I would rather have vegetables; just kidding about the vegetables not the chocolate cake. We know how to do what’s necessary. We can maintain joy and peace. Some days are easier than other and Holy Spirit provides the power moment by moment. When you, someone or something else tries to move you off target firmly tell them, “No, I Don’t Feel Like It!”