The Conflict Within

[520 words]

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23).

All of us struggle with our feelings. They give us joy, but they also bring grief. A Christian woman was talking about these bad feelings and said, “I believe everybody has trouble with these inner demons.” How right she was. To some degree or another, we all fight against depression, anxiety, doubt, loneliness, and guilt.

An interviewer asked a famous songwriter what he did to beat the blues. He answered, “You don’t beat the blues. They beat you. Every day. Like a drum.” A journalist asked an actor who had won Academy Awards if he was happy. He responded, “Happy? I haven’t got that one figured out yet. I have my days.” All the money and fame in the world will not get rid of the dark side of our emotions.

The greatest men of the Bible struggled with bad feelings. Moses and Elijah got so depressed they asked God to take their life (Num. 11:15; 1 Kings 19:4). John the Baptist got discouraged and needed to be reassured about Jesus (Matt. 11:2-6). Jacob felt great anxiety about meeting his brother Esau after years of separation (Gen. 32:7). Job felt extreme loneliness and David poured out his fears and frustrations to God in the Psalms.

It is not always a bad thing to have a bad feeling. We ought to feel bad when we do wrong. God made us with a conscience, and we feel guilty when we know” we have sinned. Godly sorrow produces repentance (2 Cor. 7:10). Many people feel depressed and anxious because they have not repented of their sins. There is no peace to the wicked (Isa. 57:21).

Can good come from feeling bad on the inside? A poor uneducated boy lost his mother when he was nine. He never got over this loss. Years later he fell in love with a young lady he hoped to marry. When she died of sickness, he withdrew into deep depression. Eventually he recovered and proposed to another young woman only to call off the wedding and enter into another episode of depression. How could someone so prone to grief ever do anything productive in life? How could his pain serve any good purpose? There must have been a reason because that young man went on to become president of the United Sates during our darkest hour. His name was Abraham Lincoln.

Here is one of the great passages on dealing with these changing and sometimes turbulent feelings:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:6-8).

Kerry Duke
West End church of Christ
Livingston, TN

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