Practical Help for Bad Feelings
Paul DeanDr. Paul J. Dean's Weblog
- 2020 Feb 05
No one wants to be depressed or anxious or fearful or worried or even angry. The good news is that we don’t have to be. And yet, how not to be often eludes us. How can we overcome such feelings? Is there practical help for bad feelings?
Practical Help for Bad Feelings: Know That Faith is Active – So Act
Here’s something to chew on: our faith is not passive but active. When plagued with bad feelings, too often we think a little prayer will do the trick. We think God will snap His fingers, or whatever He does, and our anger, or fear, or lust will be gone. When that doesn’t happen, we wonder about God and even ourselves. The truth is that God is the one who gives us the power to do something about bad feelings and sinful thoughts or attitudes, but there’s something we have to do as well. God works it in but we have to work it out (Phil. 2:13). We have to fight. We have to actively flee sinful thoughts (1 Tim. 6:11), fight the fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12), and put on the battel armor of God (Eph. 6:11). The language of Scripture is active. It goes on offense. It’s not passive.
Practical Help for Bad Feelings: Know You’re in a War – So Fight
Think about what Paul says in 2 Cor. 10:4-5: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Note first the language of battle: “weapons of our warfare.” Note second the active nature of what we must do: cast “down arguments.” Further, bring “every thought into captivity.” That’s not only an active phrase but a wartime phrase. We are to take enemy thoughts captive like enemy combatants. And then note thirdly that “every” thought is to be taken captive. God gives very real power to deal with whatever thoughts, feelings, emotions, or attitudes that assault us.
Practical Help for Bad Feelings: Know You Need Some Intel – So Analyze
So, what’s the practical help for bad feelings? How do I fight? Well, here’s an ABCD guide. Think about what’s going on in these terms: Affections (feelings), Behavior (actions), Cognition (thinking), and Desire (wants). And remember two things here. First, desire is the root cause. It’s what’s in your heart that drives the affections, behavior, and thinking. Second, be brutally honest with yourself; your heart is ugly.
Now, think in terms of putting off the sinful ABCD’s and replacing them with God-glorifying ABCD’s. If I’m feeling (affections) anxious, angry, or worried, I need to fight to replace those affections (feelings) with peace, love, or rest. If my behaving badly in the form of laziness, cursing, or yelling, I need to replace those behaviors with diligence, edifying words, and gentle speech. If I’m thinking how could he do this to me, or I hate her, or I’m worthless, I need to think instead that I can be forgiving, I can love, and God loves me. If I crave control, attention, or things I don’t have, I need to replace those desires with a desire to consider others better than myself, a desire to exalt God and not me, and a contentment in God’s providence for my life.
Practical help for bad feelings comes in the form of taking the word of God and analyzing what’s going on. What are my ABCD’s here? What should my ABCD’s here be? Then I actively seek to take every thought captive. I pray, make a decision, memorize Scripture, work on it, fight it, and seek to glorify God in all things. I set my mind on things above. I refuse to allow myself to wallow in these sinful and debilitating thoughts and feelings. When my sin punches me in the face, I punch back, only harder. I kill the deeds of the flesh, and when I do that, God gives me love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Gal. 5:16-26).
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