The Torments of Giant Bad Feelings
I am just a bundle of feelings. I never imagined one could have such a variety of them as I am now experiencing. Most of them are bad ones and I am greatly disturbed by them. Really, I doubt whether I am sanctified, on account of the feelings I have. Do sanctified people always feel joyful? I have heard that they do, and if it is true that they do, then I am not sanctified. Big doubts take up company with me every morning, and so long as I feel as I do I do not see how to dismiss them. My heart is heavy, very heavy, over these questions. Can you tell me how sanctified people feel? Please do, I am so anxious to know.
Nearly every pilgrim in Canaan has met Giant Bad Feelings, a doughty old giant with a long bad record for troubling pilgrims. He ib not, they say, so dangerous to life as are some of the other giants, as he rarely slays a pilgrim; but for inflicting torment on them and as a helper to Giant Discourager no one can equal him. He is a most pestiferous giant, with a numerous family.
This is going to be a fair day, the sun came up clear this morning; shall we visit Pilgrim Sunshine? She lives in one of the sunniest, most pleasant vales in all Canaan, so I hear. You think it will be profitable to go over to her home? Very well, let us go.
By the way, did you ever hear the story of Pilgrim Sunshine? It is said she used to be sad, broken-hearted, fearful, and despondent, and that she lived long in the Valley of Sighs. Of course, we want to hear the story from her own lips. She has had a great deal of trouble, has pilgrim Sunshine; enough to make one despair, almost. Her people persecuted her, her husband deserted her, her sons reproached her; but, nevertheless, she is one of the happiest inhabitants of Canaan.
I believe we are nearing her home now, see how clear the air is up here, and the flora is getting more bountiful and beautiful, isn’t it! There is her place! What a lovely garden she has! And it is growing out of such rocky soil! There she is, the dear old mother in Israel! When we get to her, note the marks of care that line her saintly face; but notice also the sweet smile that graces her kind countenance. Oh, that we could bear up under life’s cares and burdens as she does!
“The Lord’s blessings be yours, Pilgrim Sunshine.”
“Aye, and the riches of His great goodness attend you, pilgrims. Sit down under this amaranthine bower and rest yourselves.”
“We are new pilgrims in Canaan and we want to settle somewhere in the land. Some one said the Vale of Hidden Delights is a good place to live in. Seems to us it is. Could we find a home here? And we should be glad to hear you tell us some of your adventures in Canaan. Coming along, we saw some giants. Do any giants live in this vicinity? We are hoping that we can gain our inheritance without meeting any of them. Can we?”
“Pilgrims, I could wish you might settle into your inheritance without a battle; but I have never yet heard of a case where a pilgrim did so. It is true some more sturdy and valiant pilgrims have little trouble with the giants and soon win, but many have hard battles to fight [Luke 12:28; 1 John 5:4]. As to your settling here in the Valley of Hidden Delights, remember that it is only by the greatest toil and care we are able to bring loveliness and beauty out of this rocky soil. But if Immanuel allots you a home here, do not fear; some of the sweetest fruits and flowers of Canaan grow right here.
“My hardest battle was with Giant Bad Feelings. Beware of him! I had a pensive soul, a sensitive nature, and was conscientious to a scruple [Romans 14:1-6]. Bad Feelings took advantage of this fact and caused me trouble untold.
“I was very happy when I crossed the Jordan into Canaan, and set up my memorial stone with a shout. I advanced into the land to explore it at once. The old corn and wine of Canaan delighted me [Joshua 5:11, 12]. My weapons of warfare were bright, and I felt able to meet any foe. But inadvertently I got into the Valley of Sighs, and lived there far too long. I blame Giant Bad Feelings for it, yet I should not have allowed myself to be influenced by him.
“It was not long after I had passed Jericho that Giant Bad Feelings accosted me.
“ ‘Good morning, pilgrim,’ he said, ‘how do you feel this morning. Seems to me your feelings are not what they should be. Pilgrims in Canaan ought to be happy all the time. You are not happy. There is a little load on your soul. See, you are carrying burdens!’ and at that he laid something heavy upon my shoulders. ‘It is true,’ he chattered on, ‘that pilgrims should be always happy, and you are not. That is plain to be seen. Now, be honest about it, aren’t you sad?’
“Well, I had to confess I felt bad.
“ ‘Certainly you feel bad. Are you sure you are all consecrated to Immanuel? Are you certain you left all the love of Egypt behind, on the farther side of the Jordan? Something must be wrong with you since you feel as you do.’
“At that he blew something into my face that sickened me with feelings of discouragement and dejection. Really, I felt worse than I did before ever I crossed the Jordan. I felt faint and sad.
“ ‘Probably you have failed somewhere! More than likely Immanuel has cast you off, and some giant will carry you out of the land. You are a failure. That is all there is to it.’ And with this he struck me a hard blow that seemed to land right on my heart. I fainted and fell.
“After this, Giant Bad Feelings visited me every day. He had the power, it seemed, to make me feel just as he desired. At times he would throw over me feelings that imitated envy, anger, and such like. When Bad Feelings would shroud me with ingratitude to Immanuel, then he would turn around and beat me for the ingratitude just as though the feelings were my own. And really it was here that Giant Bad Feelings deceived me. He had manufactured these feelings himself and, on encountering me, would lay them upon me, all the while insinuating that they were my very own. He would bring bad words to my mind, bad thoughts, ugly pictures and ideas that my soul and mind revolted against. He would deftly cause it all to seem as though it came from my heart. And then he would lay the most miserable and heart-deadening feelings upon me possible.
“Finally some pilgrims found out that Giant Bad Feelings was causing me much trouble and they visited me. ‘Pilgrim,’ they said, ‘pay no attention to Giant Bad Feelings. He is a big blusterer, anyway. Ignore him. Next time he comes tell him plainly that you belong to Immanuel, and that your feelings are consecrated to Jehovah. Tell him that if Immanuel allows you to have feelings you do not understand, that is Immanuel’s business, and must be a blessing to you in some way or other.’
“Giant Bad Feelings came around as usual after this visit of the pilgrims.
“ ‘Good morning, Pilgrim Sunshine. Not much sunshine in your soul today, is there?’ he bawled out.
“ ‘Perhaps not,’ I said. ‘But I belong to Immanuel, and the state of my soul is in His keeping.’
“ ‘Oh, pshaw! you feel miserable, and you know it. Be honest! And be sure! you might be deceived if you do not investigate very closely the state of your feelings. Remember, as a man feels so he is, according to Beelzebub.’
“ ‘I am Immanuel’s,’ I declared vehemently. ‘How I feel is His concern. Whatever the feeling He allows, there must be good for me in the experience. Anyway, I am His and He is mine.’
“ ‘Come now,’ said the Giant. ‘Do you mean to say that you believe you are all right when you feel as you do! Be careful!’
“ ‘Yes, sir, I mean to say that very thing. I believe I am all right, no matter how I feel. You have been lying to me. Get thee hence’ [Matthew 4:1-11; 1 John 2:12-14, 5:4].
“At this I swung at Bad Feelings with the trusty sword of the Spirit. It was a hard struggle, but at last I chased him away. Then I moved out of the Vale of Sighs to this Vale of Hidden Delights.”
“Oh, we feel so animated over this recital of your battle and victory over old Giant Bad Feelings, Pilgrim Sunshine! If he attacks us we believe we shall know what to do. Our armor and weapons are proof against him, this one thing we know. Oh, Immanuel, help us use the weapons thou hast so graciously put in our hands!
“Farewell Pilgrim Sunshine.”
Now let us do some considering. Probably seventy-five per cent of the people who consecrate all to God for the grace to live the victorious life are troubled over the state of their feelings. It is so natural to think that if one wholly abandons all to Christ, that one thereafter should at all times feel joyful, close to Jesus, be conscious of His presence, feel the love and peace the Christian has. In general, feel at all times that all is well. And when one’s feelings are opposite from this, a serious question and doubt usually arises as to whether the soul is really in Canaan-land or not. The fact is, one’s feelings are no standard to go by; for they are subject to a variety of conditions, spiritual, mental, and physical, and change and fluctuate in a very swift and unaccountable manner many times. The ups and downs of the Christian life would indeed be violent and serious if they followed our feelings; but our faith tells the real story, not our feelings (Ephesians 2:8, 3:17; Romans 8:28, 37-39).
When you are tempted to regard your feelings, ignore the matter altogether. Look in another place for evidence of your standing. How is your consecration? (Romans 12:1-3). How is your faith? (1 John 5:4, 10). Are you all the Lord’s? Do you still believe His promise? If you can say yes to these questions, you are still on victory’s side, though you may not feel it.
The will, not the feelings, is the controlling factor in life. The feelings are like a family of children who may, if allowed to grow up disobedient and unruly, cause one much trouble, but if controlled and made obedient, contribute to one’s happiness. Feelings are a part of us. Christian experiences are felt; that is, they affect the emotions as well as the will. Feelings fluctuate, and, in fact, in many cases become very unruly, like spoiled children, and want everything their own way. Bad news will produce sad feelings. If you receive a letter today announcing the wedding of a friend, you rejoice; if it announces a death, you sorrow. If you are sick in body your feelings may partake of the quality of your physical condition. It is well that our feelings enter into our lives in this way, else we should lack the sympathy, love, and other emotions that are essential to social happiness. So let us thank God we have feelings; they connect us with the joys and sorrows of others. But let us not gage our Christian experience by the way we feel.
Sanctified people have feelings that are natural. Man was created with all the social instincts before the fall. Before sin came in, he was told to multiply and replenish the earth. Out of the two natures, male and female, arise all the social instincts that produce families, homes, laws, and governments.
Man, however, is twofold in being, with soul and body in union. Soul and body function together and each affects the other. By steadily thinking you are sick, you can become sick; by overexerting the body, the mind can be deranged; etc.
Sanctification restores man morally to where he was in Eden. Sanctification cleanses away the nature of sin and leaves all the God-given instincts intact.
Without trying to be technical, we may set down man’s natural instincts and feelings as follows:
Man’s nature as created by God had capacity for love, joy, sorrow, justice, fear. These may be called basic instincts. There are phases of these we may profitably mention and discuss in connection with how or what a sanctified person may feel.
A sanctified person may feel: (1) The working of the law of self-preservation. (2) Sorrow at the death of loved ones. (3) Pleased when receiving words of appreciation. (4) Rising of righteous indignation at times. (5) Impatience at the slowness of justice or the wrong actions of others. (6) Pleasure in social life. (7) Craving of sex impulses and desires. (8) Hurt when illy spoken of or to. (9) Heavy through many temptations.
Taking these in order, let us explain them more fully. And we shall give here the results of over twenty years experience in the sanctified life, and many of these facts have been learned by bitter experience.
1. Self-preservation is a natural law. Fear is a part of it. Perfect love casts out fear, the fear that is slavish and results from sin; but perfect love does not destroy all timidity nor the sense of the need of protecting one’s life. A sanctified person has just as good a right to run to a storm-cellar when a cyclone comes as has anyone else. One form of fear is timidity. A newly sanctified person may feel somewhat timid in performing some duty. If, however, God’s will calls to duties that mean even death, the fully consecrated soul goes on. So in such cases the law of self-preservation gives way to the higher law of self-sacrifice for Christ’s sake.
2. Sorrow at the death of loved ones is compatible with sanctification. Many other things cause sorrow, such as disaster, disease, and sin, and these affect the wholly sanctified. The sanctified, however, have the Comforter to help support them and assuage their griefs.
3. If a sanctified person receives words of appreciation, he feels pleasure; not that they exalt him, but that they create in him a natural joy at being so appreciated. It is said by some that sanctified persons are “dead,” and the point is illustrated by saying that pins might be thrust into a dead man and he will not wince. If sanctification destroyed the natural feelings, it would be a disaster rather than a blessing. It purifies them, but does not destroy them.
4. God planted in man the sense of justice. God made man in His own image. What we find in God, we find in man. God is just; so the principle of justice abides in man. Sanctification destroys the selfish vindictiveness of anger, but it does not destroy the sense of justice, and a sanctified person will feel the rise of a righteous indignation at evil. This is illustrated in Jesus, when He “looked round about on them with anger,” (Mark 3:5) and also when “Matthew 21:12-13He made the whip of cords and drove the robbers out of the temple” (). If the righteous man cannot feel indignant at evil, how can God judge the world? Justice implies anger at evil. If righteous anger is wrong in man, it is wrong in God. Because God is God does not mean that He can do a moral wrong and it be right because God did it. His acts must be intrinsically right of themselves. Therefore, on the fact that He will judge the world we predicate the righteousness of sanctified indignation. And this is not carnal anger, which raves and slays and destroys unmercifully and wickedly.
5. It is rather hard to divide impatience into a just impatience and an unjust impatience. The point may be too fine for definition, but Scripture and experience both prove that sanctification does not make one perfectly patient. In fact, who should judge as to
what perfect patience is if it were a possible attainment? Sanctification does make us patient. The constant ruffling of soul over untoward events stops. We grow patient. We trust God. We wait and hope. But we read that “tribulation worketh patience” (Romans 5:3); so hard experiences make us patient, that is, if we bear them. James says, “The trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:3) So what tribulations and trials work is not completely done by the Spirit when we are sanctified.
6. It used to be said by some that sanctification destroyed social instincts to the point of making social diversions distasteful. It seems very hard to disentangle the true state of holiness from asceticism. Once, holy men were supposed to be dead to social enjoyments—they would not marry, they would not wear ordinary clothing, they would not associate on a common plane with their fellows. But Jesus did not live that way. He made wine for a marriage feast; He ate dinner at a rich Pharisee’s house; He enjoyed being at Martha’s home. John leaned on His bosom at the last supper. Jesus was no ascetic.
Sanctification lifts social contact to its highest level. Brilliant conversation on a plane of purity is as enjoyable to holy people as to others. Figures of speech, puns, and riddles may mark the conversation of holy people as well as others. Yet their talk does not descend to the vulgar, frivolous, giddy, jay chatter of the wicked. As is said of conversation, so may be said of parties and picnics, which are names for outings or gatherings of various kinds at which refreshments may or may not be served. Should God’s children be debarred from these pleasurable associations because the world goes too far in them?
7. Sanctification does not destroy sex impulses, but it does ennoble them and bring them under control. Hence the drawing of natures to each other is common to all, and courtship and marriage are honorable, as Paul said.
8. Since sanctified persons can appropriately feel pleasure at words of appreciation, so can they feel hurt at slights and impositions heaped on them by others. Perhaps the dividing line between what is right and what is wrong in this matter is this: so long as one feels hurt but does not feel like hurting in return, he may be safe; but when one is hurt and then feels the retaliating spirit which boils over in anger, that one feels the mark of an unsanctified soul. We may be hurt, but we also commit and trust it to God.
9. Joy is not always overflowing in the hearts of the sanctified. Heavy trials will produce a heaviness of spirit (1 Peter 1:6-9).
These trials are profitable, really indispensable.
Sanctification restores the soul. It purifies the affections and motives of the life, it lifts all of life up to a plane of holiness and love, but it leaves us men and women. Do not expect impossibilities of it, but expect it to cleanse out sin and carnal wicked elements.
God’s plan for the earth is for salvation to extend to all men until this world shall be ruled by divine principles and love instead of lust and selfishness.
Give yourself wholly to God, then, dear soul; fully yield all up to the divine will and care not how you feel. Let God care for your feelings as well as for everything else. He will “keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on [Him].” (Isaiah 26:3) Glorious peace, precious rest, delightful confidence!
A certain woman lived a precarious existence, but she was so happy in her life with Jesus that she was the marvel of her town.
You have given all to God, let Him keep all of you and for you.