DO YOU KNOW THAT ELECTION EMOTIONS CAN DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH AND EVEN YOU FAITH?
- Imagine a world in which every person valued every other person equally as made in God's image. Imagine a world in which our leaders saw themselves as servants of those they led (Jim Denison)
- God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knows (Tim Keller)
- To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement (St. Augustine)
- Your life as a Christian should make non-believers question their disbelief in God (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
- But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through (Francis Chan)
- The spirit of complaint is born out of an unwillingness to trust God with today. … spending your time looking back toward Egypt or wishing for the future all the while missing what God is doing right now (Priscilla Shirer)
TEXT: Matthew 11:25 ‘At that time Jesus said . . . 28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’.
Human nature requires that when there is a choice to make, one attaches feelings that justify the choice made. The deeper the attachment to a desire or a person, the stronger the reaction to the loss of what one longed for will be. Democracy is so riven by partisan politics that people start seeing their nation through ‘yellow’ or ‘blue’ lenses that colors everyone and everything in partisan hues. The strong reaction reflects caring, connection and passion which aligns with the biblical teaching, ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters’ (Colossians 3:23). It therefore means, anxiety for election results is actually positive, to some degree, because it shows investment in the governance of one’s community and a willingness to participate. To offer oneself as a candidate for a political post is a courageous and risky act that should demonstrate love for the people and their welfare. The investment in time, money, and relationships require deep emotional commitment. The anxious feeling increases as the election campaign intensifies and even during the election and after the election. Irrespective of who garners majority of the votes, the uncertainty of what changes will take place and their impact will put pressure on all the people. The more engaged one is the stronger the sense of depletion or just feeling spent because one has been holding the breath. Feeling out of control makes a person fearful and anxious which are strong feelings requiring well thought out guidance. If emotions are not well guided, whether anger, sadness, or frustration, they can lead to physical stress on one’s body, lower immunity system, affect blood pressure, memory and self-esteem. There is a need to recognize that emotions are an important mechanism that causes one to take offensive or defensive steps. It is not only natural, but also necessary and godly to take time to reflect and process your emotions.
This which is true in political elections is also true as one makes a choice to respond to the Lordship of Christ. I remember the catechism question of whether one would renounce Satan and the response: 'Do you renounce Satan and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the carnal desires of the flesh, so that thou wilt not follow, or be led by them. . . ‘. . Lack of emotional attachment to God’s saving grace may be a revelation of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer refers to as cheap grace. Similarly, though on a lighter note, to say yes to one candidate is to say no to the other, which is an emotive act.
THE EMOTIONS NEED TO BE UNDERSTOOD, ACCEPTED AND GUIDED
Temporal nature of feelings – The attachment of emotions, and when and how, are partially determined by the shared beliefs. An individual has the ability to select the emotions to attach to a given situation and that is what distinguishes one who is dependent on the leading of God’s word as revealed by the power of the Holy Spirit and another. Though feelings are temporary, because they come and go, some can persist and keep one stuck in the loss/change while others can literally drag one down the drain. Thoughts that are entertained during that transitory time determine the effect of the emotions. The fear of the candidate you did not consider good enough taking up responsibility creates anxiety and reveals that what others value is different. The fears can cause one to feel lonely and helpless. Instinctively there is a desire to resist the mental suffering of painful truths and so the need to give oneself time to acquire the ability to bear the loss, accept the sadness, and maintain the fact that God who has the Big Picture is in charge. ‘When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me’ (Psalm 56:3-4). Instead of distress, your trust is in the one who knows the way and whom you prayed that His will is done.
Read and examine emotions –When anxiety is accompanied by fear that crystalizes as anger, there is a need to question the beliefs that are being violated. Explore the exact cause of irritation- envy, hate, greed, resentfulness or finding pleasure in another’s misfortune. These feelings spiral downwards, making one feel sinned against and disliking self. These feelings should be brought to conscious awareness. If these emotions align with what is described in Galatians 5:19-21 which describe the world of the flesh, then there is a need to reset. This is because feelings are not based on reality but on perception. Anxiety when not confronted tends to block one from seeing reality and thus generate distortions. The tendency is to repress the unwanted emotions but they can return in disguised forms that include physical illness. Act on reality as revealed in God’s word. ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:22-25).
Pay attention to the feelings that are stuck in what is lost– What you allow your mind to focus on is what you become. If your meditation is on what is lost or what could go wrong, the fear increases and drags the person down into depression. Some changes in governance have resulted in people being uprooted from their homes, dispossessed of their valuables and have to seek new beginnings as refugees. Such thoughts can cause one to lose sleep, diarrhea and feel disoriented or distrust God’s word, ‘God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’ (Hebrews 13:5b-6). In addition, remember God’s question to Moses, is what he had in his hand (Exodus 4:20) not what he had lost. Listen to what God is saying; look at the silver lining in what may be inclining you to despair. It is a fact that some change can be so drastic that life will not be the same again.
Allow yourself time to process the emotions – Grief following loss is a process that cannot be hurried. Healing starts with the study of the cause, not just trigger of fear, the patterns repeated and the contradictions in thoughts and actions. While the mind will keep slipping to the loss, intentionally focus on God’s word. Take time to read, pray and fellowship with those whose destination is eternity with Christ. Talk about your overwhelming feelings and loss, and share the word of God, and pray to the one who heals all diseases. Weigh the loss against the promise in God’s word and that eases uncertainty. Determine to discover deep wells of peace, hope and strength found in Christ.
Though loss and disappointment can be deeply disempowering, it is important to remember that even this shall pass. The symptoms of anxiety and depression are a normal part of the human condition and almost no one goes through life without experiencing them. If the fear is getting a person commanding unjustly and ruling tyrannically, then it is time to call upon the Lord as you recognize that the person has no power except that given by God. The material possessions and time spent in communicating what you believed to be important is not lost. It is the Lord who gives and He is still on the Throne and will not forget you. Might you feel like you have been isolated as a group that shares some beliefs and values, remember that you are included in the place that matters. ‘After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb’ (Revelation 7:9). Keep in mind that God uses my influence and your influence to engage our culture redemptively for his glory. That is why as Christians who are the light of the world, we need to find our courage in Christ in whom we also find our rest. Ensure that your rest comes from what Jesus gives to all those who labor and are heavy laden. Any other rest is likely to cause more weight. As you engage with the changes brought about by the elections, are you encouraging yourself and those around you to seek emotional rest in Jesus Christ?
‘Fight discouragement with all you have. Pray for the Lord to renew to you the joy of your salvation. The greatest way to fight discouragement is to let the Word of God be the primary source of your emotions…. ‘(Clayton King)