By Joanne Putnam
The more I read the Bible, the more I realize that over the past 6,000 years, mankind really hasn’t changed much! There are times when we feel great faith, we’re on the mountaintop, and everything’s going great! Then there are times when we feel like we have no faith, we’re in the deepest valley and nothing’s going right!
Sometimes those “highs” and “lows” are moments apart! And at the most, they’re only days apart!
We have faith; we want to have faith. We believe in God. We know He knows what’s best for us, but we allow our emotions to get in our way. We allow our carnal nature to void our spiritual desires and destroy our faith.
Again, we really haven’t changed much this last 6,000 years!
The Children of Israel had toiled under Pharaoh’s hand in the land of Egypt for four hundred years. They had prayed for deliverance for centuries. They had pleaded with God and believed that some day a deliverer would come. Finally, Moses came on the scene. At first they followed his leading, obeyed his commands and eventually did leave Egypt. Then what happened? As soon as they got out of town, just three short days later, they started their next round of complaining! Moses wasn’t leading them right, God wasn’t feeding them right, they couldn’t overcome their enemies… So a fourteen-day trip took them forty years and most of them never saw God’s total plan for their deliverance!
II Kings tells the story of the prophets Elisha and Elijah. Elisha, a young prophet, followed Elijah as closely as he could, because Elijah had promised him a double portion of his spirit if he was there and saw him when he ascended into heaven. The text reads:
“And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over. And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him. And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the spirit of the LORD hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send. And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not. And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?” (II Kings 2:12).
Can you imagine that? The sons of the prophets were the Bible College of the day. They actually thought God had dropped Elijah upon some mountain and left him there!
Elisha tried to tell them that he knew God had not dropped Elijah from his chariot and left him to die in the wilderness. He tried to tell them that God didn’t lift him up to let him down! But the prophets insisted and pushed Elisha until they made him feel ashamed and embarrassed, so he sent some of them to check it out.
Then there was Peter. Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and begged to join Him. He had all the faith he needed when he stepped out of the boat. But then he looked down. He saw that what he was doing was not humanly possible, even though he was doing it! At that moment, he took his eyes off Jesus. He looked at his circumstances and knew that what he was doing couldn’t be done! All of a sudden, his faith left him! When his faith left him, his emotions took control. God didn’t lift him up to let him down! Peter let himself down, and he let the Lord down when he doubted that what he was doing was real!
Unfortunately, time and again, I have been guilty of the same thing in my own life. I’ll never forget the year I was pregnant with our second child. As a couple, we had discussed having another baby and I was sure I would be able to continue to teach school after the baby was born. The babysitter situation was settled. Everything seemed to be great. Then it hit!
All of a sudden our plans collapsed. Our babysitter called to say that she couldn’t baby-sit anymore and I began to realize that I really didn’t want to work anymore. I wanted to stay home with my little ones, but at that point, it was too late! We quickly made other arrangements, and I went back to work.
That entire year, I prayed that the Lord would make a way for me to stay at home. Two years earlier we had bought a house that took both of our incomes, so it really seemed out of the question. Fitting two salaries into one didn’t work on paper and my husband was a little upset with me for having changed my mind about working!
After a year of much prayer, tears and frustration, the Lord opened up an unbelievable door for us. Not only did He make a way for me to stay at home with the children, He also opened a full-time ministry position for my husband.
We put our house up for sale and moved to Indianapolis, where my husband became the Principal of Calvary Christian School. He went to work every day and I stayed at home with our two children in the evangelist’s quarters. I should have been thanking God for allowing me to be home with our children, but it didn’t take long before I was just as frustrated as before, but for a different reason. After all, my husband was leading an exciting life! He was meeting people I had only heard of! All sorts of exciting things were happening at the school and church and he was a part of it! There I was, stuck at home with two little ones and very little money, while he was going out to lunch and talking with all of those interesting people…
I had become just like the children of Israel and Peter! I had prayed and pleaded with God to make a way for me to stay home with my children. When it came to pass, I wasn’t satisfied and began to grumble and complain, feeling somehow that the Lord had let me down. I was just like the Israelites who took their eyes off God and looked at their circumstances. I had allowed my emotions to destroy all God had graciously done for me.
It took about two weeks for me to wake up to what was happening. When I did, you can imagine how I felt. I felt like a heel! I asked God to forgive me for grumbling and complaining. Once again, He forgave me, as He so generously does; and I went on to have three of the richest and most fulfilling years of my life as I watched our little ones grow!
As human beings we are extremely vulnerable to the attack of the enemy when we take our eyes off Jesus and look at our circumstances. Satan uses our emotions to override our reason. When we allow our emotions to control us, we begin a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. Satan looks for every opportunity to destroy us. He would like for us to be controlled by emotions rather than reason. His purpose is to kill, steal and destroy all that we have, all that we are and all that we ever hope to be.
Satan tries to get us “coming and going,” as the old saying goes. He gets us riled up and upset about situations and when the situation is resolved in our heart and life, he comes at us from another angle, telling us that we have no hope and that we have blasphemed God. Remember: Satan is the author of confusion. God is not the author of confusion. We must allow God to help us to see through the devil’s devices. When our guard is down, Satan uses our emotions to defeat us.
Emotions are powerful forces in the human mind, but we cannot stand on them! They are fickle, unreliable and sometimes extremely foolish! We must stand on the never changing rock, Christ Jesus!
Modem Psychology and “the world” say, “If it feels good, do it!” They encourage us to allow our emotions to overrule reason. God intended His reason to overrule our emotions. Our emotions must always be accountable to the power of reason and will. We can “will” or “set” our mind to do impossible things when God controls us through our reason and not our feelings. We need to “set our face” toward the Lord. “I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” (Psalms 16:8). (I shall not be moved, means I will not allow my emotions to control me.)
Emotions, like roller coasters, fluctuate up and down, from highs to lows. Stability comes from our determination to serve God, regardless of the circumstances. To do right, regardless of how we “feel.”
Satan doesn’t give up on us just because we are committed Christians. He tries one tactic after another. He stealthily uses weapons of guilt, rejection, fear, embarrassment, grief, depression, loneliness and misunderstandings to destroy our stability, and to make us distrust God’s ability to meet our needs.
When we rely on our emotions, we open the door to the devil’s devices. Always remember: his entire goal is to destroy us.
Take fear for example, it has a remarkable way – of generating evidence to support itself. You hear a strange noise and it doesn’t take long for an entire scenario to appear in your mind and with the direst of consequences! Dr James Dobson related a story about his parents in the 1960’s. One night his mother thought she heard someone in the house and she convinced herself that it was Charles Manson and his murderous followers who just happened to be locked up in prison!
Then there is guilt. The devil prods you to commit sin and if you fall into the trap, realize it and repent, he’s right there to tell you that it’s too late. He tells you that you have blasphemed the Holy Ghost, and you can’t ever be forgiven, so you might as well just continue to sin.
He also uses rejection. He tells you that no one loves you so how could God possibly love you? People who have felt rejection from their family, their father in particular, are vulnerable to this attack. Subconsciously, we often relate to God as we do to our earthly father. If your father was not loving and kind, it may be hard for you to relate to God as being loving and kind.
Loneliness goes hand in hand with rejection. When people are lonely, the devil tells them all sorts of things and opens up opportunities to sin. People who feel lonely or rejected by their spouse, often fall into sexual sins.
A person once told me that they felt that they should leave their church because they were so lonely. They didn’t have any friends in the church. They thought that if they went to a larger church they would have friends. I asked the person if they had friends in the last church they were in and they said no. They also told me that no one in their family liked them either. Believe me, changing churches isn’t going to help that person. They will take their loneliness with them and still not feel like they have any friends! They must allow God to help them get out of Satan’s trap.
Then there are misunderstandings. If you have ever played “telephone,” you know how easy it is to mistake what someone has said. When information passes through two or three people, it seldom resembles the original message!
We need to face the fact that we are all going to have experiences or opportunities where we think God has let us down. We must be spiritually strong enough that we do not allow our emotions to get in the way of what we know is right!
Many Godly People Have Felt As You Have
God told Noah to build a boat on dry land and to preach righteousness. It took him one hundred years to do so, but he did, and his family was saved. During that time, as he was prodded and mocked, I am sure that he had lonely times.
Abraham was told he would have a son and that he would have as many descendants as there were grains of sand on the earth, but Abraham didn’t wait on God. Perhaps he thought God had let him down. He accepted a man-made substitute and the world is still paying for it today.
Jonah was told to warn a nation so they could repent and be saved, but he ran from God. When he finally obeyed God and warned the people, he was angry with God because the people did repent and God didn’t destroy them! God forgave the people, but Jonah couldn’t!
Job lost all he had, but he didn’t “curse God and die” as his wife advised him to do. He “maintained his integrity with God.”
John the Baptist ended up in prison as a result of preaching righteousness and the coming of Jesus. The devil tortured him to the point that he sent word to Jesus, “Are you the Christ or do we look for another?”
So the sons of the prophets were not alone in thinking God might have let them down. The truth of the matter is that God doesn’t let us down. We let ourselves down by:
* Unrealistic expectations of life, ourselves and others
* Lack of commitment to God and family
* Lack of restraint (self-control)
* Impatience, unwillingness to wait
* Unbalanced commitment to work, church, etc., resulting in extreme fatigue
* Reaching for the unobtainable things of the past
* Unrighteous anger, envy and jealousy
Do you realize that as Christians we are more likely to sin by our reactions to situations than by our original actions? We are not nearly as likely to go to the local bar for a beer as we are to envy someone’s new house or get angry because our husband tracked mud on the floor we just scrubbed!
At some point in our walk with God, we must learn to control our emotions. Controlling our emotions is a matter of spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is not blaming God when things don’t go just as we thought they would. It is not jumping to conclusions before we have all the facts. Spiritual maturity is setting our mind and our will to keep our eyes on Jesus, regardless of the way circumstances appear. It is obedience to God in times of crises. It is self-control. It is commitment to God and commitment to family.
Today we have so many things we can place our trust in: husband, job, education, finances, Social Security, the government… but these things will all let us down! The things of this world are all temporal. But we serve a God that changes not! A God that lifts us up and never lets us down! Study His word, memorize it and be ready when the fiery darts of the enemy try to come against you.
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Ephesians 6:16).
“The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate” (Psalms 24:22).
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
“0 Lord by God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me” (Psalms 7:1).
“Some [trust] in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” (Psalms 20:7).
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58).
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galations 5:1).
We cannot allow our emotions, or feelings, to get in the way of doing what we know is right. Giving in to our emotions and allowing them to be our guiding factor, makes us double minded. When we are ruled by our emotions, we are vulnerable to every ungodly thing. “A doubleminded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).
We are going to have difficult times. Scripture says that the rain falls on the just and on the unjust. Jesus said that we will be hated among all men for His namesake. We will have persecution, but regardless of what we go through, we have got to trust in God. We have got to “set our face” to serve the Lord.
If you don’t know God in this power, you can know Him. You can be filled with His Spirit. The Book of Acts tells us that Jesus desires to fill us with His Spirit, which is the power to overcome the will and desires of the flesh.
On the day of Pentecost, the first day of the church, Peter took the “keys to the kingdom” (Matthew 16:19) that Jesus gave him. In Acts 2:38, Peter used the keys to open up the kingdom of heaven through salvation: Repentance, baptism in Jesus name and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Jesus said that He had to go away, but that He would not leave us comfortless. He said that the Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit, would be our comforter. Truly the Holy Spirit is our comforter even today as we seek to control our emotions rather than allow them to control us.
Never loose sight of the fact that Jesus didn’t lift us up to let us down! He lifted us up to live with Him in all eternity! In all things, trust Him!
This article “He Didn’t Lift Us Up To Let Us Down” written by Joanne Putnam is excerpted from her book Growing In All The Right Places.