Facts First, Faith Second, and Feelings Last of All

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‘Heading back to Hannah W. Smith’s work for a few weeks…

Chapter 5  Get the facts first.

Most of us live life ruled by a roller coaster of feelings, with our faith lagging behind in second place and all facts about God coming to mind last of all. God’s way is just the opposite: facts first, faith second, and feeling last. We need to live this way, learning the facts about him, then accepting by faith what we don’t yet feel.

In Bible times, the Jewish people brought their offerings to the altar and left them there. If anyone had set down a gift then, feeling uncertain, had turned around and grabbed it back, those looking on would have gasped in dismay. There was no going back. Yet, day after day, many of us, with no thought of the sacrilege we are committing, do something very similar. We give ourselves and all our concerns to the Lord in solemn consecration and then, through unbelief, take back all we have given him. The Bible tells us salvation and our daily walk are to be by faith. Therefore, we must believe before we feel, and often even against our feelings.

Are you wondering if you really belong to the Lord? Maybe, because you don’t feel any different, you doubt. The Bible tells us that if we ask anything according to God’s will, he hears us, and gives us what we ask of him.[1] Is it his will that we be entirely surrendered to him, that he use us according to his plans? Of course. So, according to God’s word, when we ask God to take over our lives, he hears us and says “yes” to our request. And when we ask God to take control of a particular issue in our lives, fearful feelings do not mean that we have failed to give the matter over to him.  

If you’re still uncertain as to your place with the Lord, ask the Holy Spirit to show you all that is contrary to him in your heart or in your life. If he brings anything to mind, give it to the Lord immediately and say, “Your will be done.” If he shows you nothing, then believe that there is nothing and conclude that you have given him all. Try praying this, “Lord, I am yours; I give you my all, and I believe you accept me. Do your will in me, and I will trust you.” Don’t wait to feel that you have surrendered your life—and every detail it entails—to God. Believe it to be true. If you are steadfast in this belief, sooner or later the feeling will come.

[1] “If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5: 14b-15).

This work is a revised and condensed version of Smith, Hannah Whitall.  The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. Boston: Willard Tract Repository, 1875.


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We’re living in a weird world, aren’t we? Most days, I’ve become accustomed to morning news that sounds like a science fiction movie, and days that run along a different pattern than this time last year. I manage to remember that God is still on his throne. But I’m a little down today. ‘No real reason that I can identify.  Steve (unintentionally) woke me up in the middle of the night, but that’s not particularly unusual, and I did go back to sleep. It’s cloudy, but clouds are a welcome gift in Austin’s summer heat. I could point to a few “first world problems” needling me, but even those usually fade into the background of my blessings.

So what’s wrong?

I think, as I type and analyze, that what’s most wrong is that I want to figure it all out. Why do we do that? Life would be smoother if, when it comes to short-term blues, we would tell ourselves, “Hey, this too will pass. Praise the Lord anyway and wait it out.”

Now, I’m not talking about grief or true depression or times in our lives when we have to face real trouble head-on. Those time call for introspection and, more often than not, the help of others. But, for today, I think I need to lean into Hannah Whitall Smith’s teaching about faith, facts, and feelings. While you can read a longer version here, I’ll give you the “CliffsNotes” version now:

I have faith in the Lord God Almighty.

It’s a fact that he loves me, is in charge, and provides all sorts of advice in the Bible about how to handle sadness.

My feelings are unreliable, and can fluctuate for any number of reasons, some of which I’ll never figure out.

So, today I’ll cut myself some slack. I won’t keep trying to “fix” this Eeyore day. I’ll praise God without the emotion I’d like to be experiencing. And, hopefully, I’ll manage to stay nice to those around me. (Whatever is the opposite of rose-tinting, that’s the sort of glasses I might be seeing the world through today. Thus, it’s probably best to keep my mouth shut if I see something or someone out of order.)

And tomorrow, odds are, I’ll be me again, and particularly thankful that the sun has come back out within me.

Have you been there? Are you there now? Join Hannah and me in taking a deep breath and remembering the truth. You will get through this, probably sooner than you think.

(And, for those dear friends who are about to pick up the phone and check on me, while I’d love to hear from you, please bear in mind that I rarely write on the same day that I post. When you call, hopefully I will have all sorts of cheery things to say!)

Psalm 43:5 is perfect for this issue: Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Photo by tatianaDm via pixabay.