Ruled By Emotion
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13
In my addiction, I used chemicals that dramatically altered the way I felt. Basically, my emotions were suppressed by the high of the drug so that I didn’t feel much while using. As the addiction grew worse, I also became calloused to the hurt I was inflicting on others. Then, when life fell apart, consequences rained down upon those I loved most, and all my emotions came rushing in as I had to sober up.
This is when I most needed the drug to suppress my feelings, but I had to give it up. So, I went to treatment as an emotional mess. Suddenly I could feel everything, and it was terrible. My emotions threatened to overwhelm me as I was drowning in newfound guilt and shame. Daily – many times a day – I had to remind myself of certain truths: God still loves me, he’s forgiven me, my wife hasn’t left me yet, there’s still hope. Emotions aren’t easily dismissed though, so I had to continually wrestle them to the ground, taking control of them so that they didn’t overthrow me.
In today’s passage, Paul similarly prescribed a specific reality as the proper response when our grief threatens to overwhelm. I’m hesitant to write about it, because my self-inflicted misery isn’t the same as the grief of which Paul spoke. I’m also aware that many of you have experienced much worse loss than I have.
In the passage, Paul said that when we lose someone in death, we must understand that it isn’t the end. He said that we shouldn’t grieve as those who have no hope. He didn’t say we shouldn’t grieve at all. Living the rest of our lives without a loved one is still terribly painful. Loss is still loss. He just said that we should use God’s truth to change the way we grieve. As Christians, we believe that we’ll one day be reunited with our loved ones. We may grieve, but when our grief threatens to overthrow our minds, we must remind ourselves that this isn’t the end. In the grand scheme of things, our time on Earth is just a blip in view of the eternity we’ll have together.
Emotions are real and we cannot simply dismiss them, but often we must remind ourselves of certain truths that should alter our emotions, reigning them in. Being ruled by emotion is a chaotic, miserable life, and so, often, we must remind ourselves of God’s truths, so that our emotions don’t run – and ruin – our lives.