The following quote has popped up twice in the last week and each time its truth has had the same powerful effect on this reader.
In C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters (which I highly recommend—so insightful), the senior devil, Screwtape, warns his nephew (a junior devil) of the danger of a Christian’s obedience to God despite his or her feelings on the matter.
“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause [the Devil’s cause] is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending to do our Enemy’s will [God’s will], looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” – C. S. Lewis
Another few quotes on the subject are from Paul Miller’s A Loving Life (which is currently wrecking my world):
“Because our culture makes feeling happy the goal, when our feelings are negative, when we experience the cost of love, we think that something has gone wrong, that we’re not being true to ourselves.”
“Our ‘in tune with my feelngs’ era believes that to be true to myself, to be authentic, means I need to act on my feelings. But the opposite is true. In fact, true authenticity means I maintain a trust through thick and thin. To obey when I don’t feel like it means I will feel dislocated. That frees me because it allows me to do good no matter what my internal spirit is doing. When that happens, I am on my way to maturity, to becoming a seasoned pilgrim of love.”
“The modern quest for authenticity has become twisted into a quest to have our will and our emotions in sync. This faux authenticity is just a fancy version of the sixties slogan, ‘If it feels good, do it.’ So the celebration of being ‘true to yourself’ means acting on your feelings. ‘I’m not in love with my spouse anymore, so I’m going to leave.’ This off-repeated formula, the logic behind many broken covenants, equates love with feeling happy. The result? We are dominated by the tyranny of our ever-changing feelings. We don’t endure. … Our culture has created an idol out of feelings and become enslaved to them.”
“That is why endurance is the heartbeat of hesed love. And the nature of endurance is hanging in there in opposition to your feelings. The question is not ‘How do I feel about this relationship?’ but ‘Have I been faithful to my word, to the covenants I am in?'”