Volume XXXVIII, #33: Priority: Feeling Good, or Thinking Rightly?
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14)
I am currently listening to some lectures called “Mind-Body Medicine: The New Science of Optimal Health.” The lecturer makes the point (no great revelation here) that our minds have an impact on our bodies. Chronic negative emotions can harm our health, while good emotions can help us. For the sake of our health, then, we need to be happy and optimistic. Whatever it takes, we need to “feel good” psychologically. If we don’t, we’ll probably die sooner.
These days, health and longevity are two of the main reasons why many put such a premium on feeling good. There are other reasons, of course, including the religious argument offered by one fellow who told me, “It’s a sin for Christians not to be happy.” The bottom line, however, is simply that people want to feel good because it . . . feels good.
When feeling good becomes such an all-important prize, we begin to make some dangerous mistakes: we lie to ourselves, we disregard crucial parts of the truth, and we flatly deny other parts of it — all in an effort to avoid any thoughts that would make us “feel bad.” We do this because we understand that our feelings flow from our thinking, i.e., our view of reality. If we feel bad, we know that we’ve got to start thinking differently, and most people will try to view “reality” in any way that is necessary to produce more comfortable feelings. But think of the price we pay. We may feel good at the moment, but we live in the never-land of Truth Is Whatever Makes Me Happy.
Thinking rightly about God certainly includes the truth that He is going to be victorious. Ultimately, all will be well. But in the meantime, there are some difficult things that have to be dealt with, and thinking rightly about them will often be more painful than pleasant. In addition to all the other sorrows in this world, the joy of our salvation will, for now, be accompanied by the godly sorrow that produces repentance. The gospel must break our heart before it can restore our soul.
A commitment to truth means giving right thinking a higher priority than feeling good. In the end, right thinking about God will lead us to His throne in heaven, where there will be no more tears. But let us not demand a premature cessation of sorrow. That time has not yet come.
So in this world, when the truth is something you can feel good about, give thanks. And when the feelings that flow naturally from the truth are painful, accept those feelings. Experience them fully, authentically, and reverently. Doctor Feelgood may say it’s not conducive to your “health” — but “health” is not our ultimate priority either.