By Rhonda Compise
My family upbringing was rather stoic. I was raised in the day of “stop crying or I will give you something to cry about!” When I read the Bible as a young person, I was very impressed by all the heroes of the faith who overcame their feelings and chose to have faith in God. Paul was beaten, imprisoned, and once left for dead. He was a man who had to deal with a lot of negative feelings, but he did not allow them to hinder him from pursuing Christ. In my young spiritual mind, I somehow got the notion that feelings were merely something that I should overcome.
When the new AB Women’s Ministries 2017-2019 theme of “Feel/Siente” was announced, I was surprised! My first inclination was that feelings had nothing to do with spirituality. I could really relate to the song “Feelings” by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil: “Feelings, nothing more than feelings….” I thought, “Why do we even have feelings?”
I began to search scripture for “feeling” words. The scripture that constantly resonated in my thoughts was Nehemiah 8:10, “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Joy is a feeling worth having! And yes, I have experienced that joy and strength. And no, it was not just positive affirmation. I experienced joy as a spiritual event. This verse helped me to understand that feelings are spiritual.
My research of scripture revealed that God has feelings. Two examples from the Old Testament are Genesis 6:6, which says that God was sorry, and grieved. Psalm 145:8 says that, “The LORD is… full of compassion, slow to anger…” And there is the familiar New Testament verse in John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” Throughout the Bible, I saw that feelings are a part of the nature of God. In the New Testament we see feelings expressed by Jesus. These expressions of feelings help us understand why God acts in the way that God does. God’s compassion results in God being slow to anger. The tears of compassion from Jesus help us understand why he raised Lazarus from the dead.
Today we can see actions resulting from feelings on the news every day in response to the recent Hurricane Harvey. Individuals from all over the country are taking action in response to their feelings of compassion for those who have been displaced. Now I am excited about exploring the connections between feeling and acting as a part of our spiritual life and service. I am praying for growth as we study our new theme “Feel/Siente.”