By Jennifer Waddle, Crosswalk.com
I used to feel somewhat offended when people tied emotional health to spiritual wellbeing. Not only did it make me feel weak in my faith, but it also seemed too simplistic for the complexity of emotions that were difficult to manage. Can you relate?
The truth is, our emotional health isn’t tied to one factor, but is comprised of a myriad of things that help determine how we think, feel, and behave. There’s the physical side of emotional health that sometimes requires the help of a trusted medical professional. The circumstantial aspect of emotional health can instigate a whole host of unwanted feelings and reactions. But there’s also the Spiritual side of our emotional wellbeing that cannot and should not be dismissed.
In Psalm 13, King David shared his emotions openly with the Lord when he said, “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?” Instead of trying to manage his emotions on his own, David took them to the Lord with question after question. This “man after God’s own heart” wasn’t without emotional struggle, but he knew the battle was best fought with God’s divine help. Later, in the same Psalm, he wrote, “I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.”
Yes, our emotions have many factors that play into them, but the basis of our emotional health is tied to our spiritual wellbeing. This doesn’t necessarily mean we are weak in our faith, but it does mean we are in great need of the Holy Spirit’s power for emotional stability.
If you’re struggling with emotional health, here are three ways it could be tied to your Spiritual wellbeing:
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1. You’ve Stepped Away from Your Solid Foundation
Remember the old Sunday school song with the lyrics, “The rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the rock stood firm?”
When we are not standing on the solid foundation of Christ and His Word, things get shaky, and our emotions become unstable. Just as the house built on sand crumbled when the rains came, so our emotional health can crumble when the waves of life come. Jesus is our true foundation. No matter what comes, we must remain in Him as He encouraged in John 15:5. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (NKJV)
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you’re feeling emotionally unstable:
• Am I spending time daily with God through prayer and Bible study, or am I neglecting my relationship with Him?
• Am I relying on my own willpower, or am I seeking the power of the Holy Spirit to help me manage my emotions?
• Am I letting circumstances or situations determine my emotional health or staying grounded in God’s truth?
During emotionally challenging times, it’s imperative we keep our feet planted on the absolute truth of the Word. Otherwise, we’ll be subject to every wind of change out there. Emotional health starts with a solid foundation, which is found in Christ alone.
Here’s another helpful resource, called Our Strong Foundation in a Shaky World.
2. You’ve Turned Away from Your Constant Source of Help
Sometimes, we forget that the Holy Spirit lives in us as Christians. He was given to us the moment we received Christ as our personal Savior. He doesn’t up-and-leave the second things get difficult, and it’s by His constant help we are able to manage our emotional health. This doesn’t mean we won’t ever panic, overreact, or struggle with emotions. However, it does mean we can find constant help in the Holy Spirit to remind us of what is true - every single time.
Remember Jesus’ words from John 14:16-17: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” This was a promise from Jesus to His disciples, and it’s a promise for us as well. Our Helper, the Holy Spirit, abides with us forever. He is the Spirit of truth who consistently leads us in clarity and a sound mind. As 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Power, love, and a sound mind are ours at all times. Our job is to turn to Him and seek help with our emotional stability. If you need the Holy Spirit’s power to balance your emotions, consider implementing these small actions into your daily routine:
• Admit you feel weak and need His strength (Sometimes we need to do this multiple times per day!).
• Write 2 Timothy 1:7 on index cards and put them in places where you will see them often.
• Check every emotion in light of God’s Word, and repent of sinful thoughts or feelings.
• Purpose each day to walk in the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
Please don’t try to manage your emotions alone. God created your emotions and knows all about them! Seek Him and His divine help to lead you. You can trust Him!
*If you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or other dangerous emotions, please seek professional medical help.
3. You’ve Lost Your Heavenly Focus
This world is not all there is. However, many of us live as though this life is all we’ve got. But having a worldly perspective will always take us on a rollercoaster ride of emotions that is hard to stop. Consider how you’ve lost your heavenly focus:
• The things you read in the news and on social media wreak havoc on your emotions.
• The pursuit of happiness according to the world’s standards leaves you feeling empty.
• The search for significance apart from God steals your joy and peace.
Keep in mind, people will let us down, things will break, circumstances will change, but our God will never change. He is preparing a place for us that is perfect, stress-free, and full of His glory. One of the best things we can do in the face of emotional upheaval is to remember this is not our home. This doesn’t mean we walk around with our heads in the clouds, out of touch with reality. Instead, it means we take everything happening around us (and all the emotions that come with it) and view it through a heavenly lens.
For more help with this, check out this article called “5 Ways to Keep a Heavenly Perspective.”
The truth is, Jesus is coming back. Our current emotional state will not stay with us forever. There will be a day when there are no more tears, crying, or pain. By lifting our eyes to heaven and filling our minds with the holy things of God, we can significantly improve our emotional wellbeing every day.
If you’ve lost your heavenly focus, and are too wrapped up in the things of this world, be encouraged today. You can choose to lift your eyes to heaven and realize where your help comes from. As so beautifully stated in Psalm 121:1-3, “ I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.”
Heavenly Father, please hear our prayer for emotional health today. We are weak in our flesh, but we are made strong by Your Spirit. In You, we can live our lives with power, love, and a sound mind. Nothing is too difficult for You. We seek Your help today in balancing our ever-changing emotions. Please remind us of Your steadfast love for us and Your immovable grace. Lead us back to our solid foundation in Your Son, Jesus, and help us stand firm. Flood our minds and hearts with the fruit of Your Spirit and override any emotion that is in opposition with those things. Most of all, please change our perspective and turn our focus from this world to the place You are preparing for us. We know this life is not all there is, and we need a heavenly perspective to keep our emotions in check and look forward to eternity with You. We pray these things in the precious name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.