Life is more than just what we see on the physical level. It has a spiritual side, as well. Our emotions are just as much a part of our lives as eating and drinking, but they can lead us down the wrong path unless we keep them under control. Channeling our feelings properly and not allowing them to sweep us away keeps us firmly in command.
We’re spiritual beings living in physical bodies and possessing souls, which are where our thoughts and emotions live. It’s God’s will that we’re in control of our feelings. “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 1:2). To prosper is to be successful. Our souls experience emotional prosperity when we successfully rule over our emotions, instead of letting them rule over us.
Feelings are powerful, and can lead us either toward God’s will or away from it. Most people who are stressed or depressed allow these negative emotions to dominate their thinking, but that doesn’t have to be the case; as believers, we have authority over them. The ability to remain in control is a sign of emotional maturity. “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls” (Proverbs 25:28, NLT).
Stress prevents us from experiencing God’s peace and joy. It’s as much our enemy as a net is an enemy to a bird. “Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird” (Proverbs 1:17). In the same way the bird recognizes the net and avoids it, we must recognize the onset of stress and take steps to avoid it.
Depression is a deadly emotion that leads us down the wrong road and causes us to make terrible mistakes. It brings with it feelings of hopelessness and destroys our peace of mind. The Word of God is the antidote. When we’re so trapped in a troublesome situation that we feel the emotional heaviness of stress or depression closing in, studying the Word is our escape. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28, 29).
There’s a wrong way and a right way to respond to trouble. The wrong way is to think that we’re helpless against it; this type of thinking makes us weak. The right way is based on our faith that Jesus has given us authority over it; this type of thinking makes us emotionally strong. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). We are responsible for not allowing our hearts to be troubled.
We’re in a spiritual fight over our minds, but we don’t have to wait timidly for the enemy to attack. We can go on the offensive by using God’s Word as a powerful weapon. Right-thinking shields our minds and keeps them safe from the negative emotions the devil sends against us. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:8, 9). Satan has no defense against a peaceful Christian.