“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 ESV
Did you notice what’s missing in the above passage? Feelings. Nowhere does it say that we are to choose life because we feel like it. We are to choose life because God requires it. I must say, though, the words “It doesn’t feel like…” come across my ears and out of my lips quite often. On a 70 degree winter day, it doesn’t feel like winter. On a cold summer day, it doesn’t feel like summer. I hear it at Christmas especially, for Christmas has come to mean many things: snow, family, presents, time off work, lights, and decorations. So if one of those is missing, we don’t think it feels like Christmas.
Now why do we say such things? I believe it is because a momentary feeling or experience goes against what we have accepted as truth. Winter is supposed to be cold, so a warm day doesn’t feel like winter. Summer is supposed to be warm, so a cold day doesn’t feel like summer.
Yet we must remember feelings are temporary; they are not truth. They are indicators. They can indicate our excitement that what we wanted to happen actually happened, or they can indicate our frustration that what just happened was not what we planned for.
Nevertheless, feelings are not truth. I bet it didn’t feel like Christmas the night Jesus was born. Traveling 9 months pregnant. Going into labor while far away from home, far away from family. No room because of everyone else returning for the census. Giving birth in a stable. Placing the promised one in a manger. I doubt Christmas was felt in the way we feel it now… the way want to feel it… with peace, with promise, with hope…on this side of the cross.
As we walk through life, we will experience many feelings—sadness, joy, elation, worry, confusion, anger, frustration, peace. The list goes on. Yet the key to victorious living is not found in our feelings. It’s found in our faith. It’s found in our obedience. It’s found in our willingness to do what must be done or say what must be said apart from how we feel. A victorious life isn’t a momentary feeling; it’s a series of wise choices. Choosing to be kind when you don’t feel like it. Choosing to keep going when you’re tired. Choosing to love the one who keeps hurting you. Choosing to stay the course even though it’s difficult and frustrating. Choosing right even when wrong feels better.
Victorious living is a choice. Therefore, I encourage you today to choose life. No, do not ignore your feelings. Do not negate your feelings. It is unhealthy to do such things. Rather recognize how you feel as you choose to do what’s right. Follow God’s command in Deuteronomy: choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days…”
No, choosing life may not always feel good, but it will be good. Because God is good. Yes, all the time, God is good.