When Bad Feelings Mean Good Growth

by | Jan 25, 2016 | Battles, Faith | 18 comments

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

Corrie Ten Boom

Do you remember when Harrison Ford’s character in the Indiana Jones movie The Last Crusade had to step off a cliff into space? The support for his feet didn’t appear until he put his weight in mid air! Hebrews 11:1 describes faith like that: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (NIV, emphasis added).

download-1Photo by: Cam Adams

In response to “The Magic of Little Faith,” some of you said you also wrestle with unpleasant feelings when you pursue opportunities that stretch your faith. I’ve come to view these unwelcome emotions as growing pains that show we are walking by faith.

Faltering Confidence

Venturing into uncharted areas leaves most people feeling vulnerable, especially when it requires risk. Otherwise, an explorer would have discovered America before 1492. I think that is why many people stay in bad jobs and unhealthy relationships. The risk of change scares them more than the misery of staying stuck.

For example, it’s common for those learning a new skill to be chastised by their own emotions. Those setting healthy boundaries for the first time feel guilt’s lashes each time they say “no.” The fear of appearing uncaring torments them. The spirit of perfectionism will point out how we could have done better.

Our flesh generates all kinds of negative desires and feelings in its war against the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-26). That’s why faith is not the same as feeling confident. It takes more faith to obey God when we feel shaky than when we feel assured.

photo-1429277096327-11ee3b761c93-1Photo by: Julia Caesar

In Hebrews chapter eleven, God highlights a general who wouldn’t go into battle against a fierce enemy unless a particular mother in Israel rode with him. It doesn’t even name the brave woman (Hebrews 11:32)! I believe it named Barak and not Deborah because Deborah’s faith is obvious (Judges 4-5). But if God hadn’t noted Barak’s faith, I would have missed it. Barak went into battle in obedience to God not because he was sure they would win. And God commended his faith!

Pesky Passions

Let’s not confuse passion with faith either. Passion for Christ drove Peter to lop off the nearest ear when soldiers came to take Christ on the night of His betrayal. When Jesus stopped this rampage, Peter’s courage folded (John 18:25-26).

downloadPhoto by: Nick Diamantidis

Jesus wasn’t driven by outbursts of emotions. He patiently wove the whip He used to clear the temple (Jn. 2:15). He followed His Father’s initiative (Jn.5:30).

The flesh drives us with strong emotions. A wise teacher once said that when we’re eager to confront someone, it’s probably the flesh motivating us. I agree. An uncomfortable hesitancy often accompanies the Spirit’s prompting to address a wrong. This is similar to the reluctance we feel when we must ask for forgiveness.

Love models self-control. Lust mocks restraint. Test the spirit behind your urges to act.

Enduring Faith

It takes courage to press through messy emotions, whether that be telling ourselves, “I didn’t have to be perfect. I did it.” or “Love is patient. Cool your jets.” The willingness to endure unpleasant feelings shows we’d rather please Jesus than avoid discomfort.

The next time your heart pounds, your palms sweat, and your flesh accuses you, make sure you’re in sync with the Savior. Your bad feelings may indicate good growth!

Click here to comment. And if you found this useful, please share it with a friend.


Debbie W. Wilson


Sometimes I link up with these great sites: #TestimonyTuesday, #IntentialTuesday, #TuesTalk, #Tell it to me Tuesdays, #A Little R & R Wednesdays #w2wwordfilledwednesday, #Wedded Wednesday, #Women with Intention,  #LivefreeThursday#Grace and Truth, #Faith ‘n Friends

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  1. Ann

    “Test the spirit behind your urges to act.” Those 8 words speak volumes to me Debbie, my friend. That is something the Lord has been speaking to me to focus on more and more in this new year.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Ann, I can be driven by the wrong emotions if I don’t stop and evaluate their source. Thanks so much.

  2. Melissa

    Thank you for this message today, Debbie. 🙂

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Melissa for reading and encouraging me! God bless!

  3. Sandi Brown

    Thank you adenine, I needed that today. My mind likes to tell me I can’t or I should not. Most of the time, further thought helps me know the truth. But, this blog gives me useful tools to evaluate the thoughts.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Sandi. We all need reminders, don’t we?

  4. Erin K Casey

    Thank you for the words of encouragement, Debbie. The heart is deceitful and may be pushing us to do something counter to what God calls us to. It does, indeed, require more faith to follow His call when uncertainty reigns.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Erin! Emotions can certainly jerk us around if we aren’t careful.

  5. Pam

    Hi Debbie!
    You are right on point! It can be easy for me (and most of us) to ignore, condemn, hate, or give the wrong meaning to our feelings and allow them to pull us off course. Only the Lord can little-by-little guide us to see our feelings as warning lights on the dashboard letting us know something is going on we may not have noticed.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Pam, you said it well. They should be warning lights, not the driver. Blessings to you, my friend.

  6. Joanne Miller

    Debbie, Great post. In our art class we talk a lot about how we need to stifle our inner critic and stifle that inner-perfectionist. Trying to be perfect in everything we do and say is exhausting and prevents us from venturing out to try new things. It can cripple us. Taking art classes and seeing how easily I can do what I thought I could NOT do, has helped free me up to be more open to stepping off that ledge….(that scene with Indiana Jones is one of my favorites!) Blessings, Joanne

    • Debbie Wilson

      Joanne, how encouraging to see your growing freedom in art transfer into life. I love it. And you are a gifted artist. I wish I lived close and could hang out with your group. I feel inspired just being with you!

  7. Stephanie

    Awesome blog! Just yesterday I was using the strategies from your other study “Give Yourself a Break” to work through messy emotions surrounding my own “new opportunities”! Great to know I’m normal AND even better to have the tools to work thru them….REAP (also known as REED): recognize your emotions, express them to God, ask God to help you evaluate them to understand what lies you may be believing and what God’s truth is, practice the truth! I’ve only used that about a million times since I learned it in your study about 10 years ago! . Thank you for your teaching of Gods truth!!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Stephanie, I still use it too! I’m so glad this spoke to you. God bless.

  8. Dawn

    What you wrote about not confusing passion with faith really spoke to me. This whole essay did…it’s beautifully written. This is a message I know is true, but I still need to hear it- again and again.
    Thank you for linking with Grace and Truth last week! I would like to feature this post on Friday to share with my readers. I think it will bless them as it did me.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Dawn! That makes my day. Blessings.

  9. Jerralea

    What a great post! I agree, “Test the spirit behind your urges to act.” was an awesome statement and one that each of us needs to consider. I’m afraid it is often my flesh that wants to redress a wrong. Definitely, more prayer is needed!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Jerralea. I definitely need to test the spirit behind my urges to speak out.

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