All posts by vhsiao93

Emotions and following God

For me, and I’m sure many others, being a Christian is often not easy. I am often filled with fears and concerns and I daily struggle to live a life that is fully reliant on God. Personally there are a lot of reasons why following God can be uncomfortable, even though I know that God controls everything, continually provides for me, and answers my prayers. These reasons include, but are not limited to:

  • Loneliness
  • Lack of worldly status
  • Loss of control
  • Lack of financial security
  • Persecution, whether physically or in other ways
  • If you are called to go to a non-English speaking country, not being fluent in the language and stumbling around
  • Looking like a fool in the eyes of the world

In the past week, I’ve been struggling a lot with what it means to live wholly for God. How do I give my life to God in everything I do? I have a long list of worries, fears, and reasons I want to hold back. But as I’ve been thinking about this question of what it would mean to give up my life to God, I have been encouraged in my devotions by all the different stories of Daniel and how God was with him through all the different trials. Being set apart has a cost but God is faithful, whether it was with Daniel and the palace food (Daniel 1) or the lions (Daniel 6). Or if we think about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace (Daniel 3). Yet while being encouraged by the book of Daniel, I also felt very frustrated as I imagined the great faith and courage with which Daniel faced the challenges in his life. I think of passages like Joshua 1:9 (“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”) and I can’t help but feel that I don’t have enough faith and am not strong nor am I courageous in how I follow after God.

Today I saw a video clip depicting Daniel in the lion’s den. In the clip, we see Daniel thrown in the den and initially being overcome with fear as he fully realizes where he is. After standing and trembling in fear for a few moments, we then see Daniel fall to his knees and pray, asking God to save him according to His unfailing love.

As I watched the clip, I was thankful to be reminded that following God does not mean we feel no emotions. So often I imagine the heroes of the Bible following God with such faith and courage, never experiencing disappointment, fatigue, anxiety, fear, pain, hurt, or anguish. But watching the clip today reminded me that trusting in God does not mean that we don’t feel these emotions. Going through Daniel, I did not find many references to Daniel experiencing fear or the emotions I would have myself were I in his circumstances. But I’d like to believe that because he was human, he did experience some fear being in, for example, the lion’s den. Nonetheless, even if not in Daniel, throughout the Bible there are numerous passages about believers who do experience emotions (and often with vivid descriptions), whether that be David in the Psalms or even Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane (“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” -Luke 22:44). I believe that we are human and thus we do and will experience emotions, but often more important than the initial reactions to the given situation is how we respond following the initial emotions. In the clip, we see Daniel respond to his fear by calling out to God. With Christ, we see that despite his anguish, he still faithfully goes to the cross. In stressful times, do we turn to God and still follow Him with complete faith and obedience despite our fear, disappointment, anger, or frustration? And in our times of joy and happiness and peace, do we look to God and thank Him for how He has provided for us? Do we remember that we have something greater than ourselves to rely on? God protects us, stands by us, gives us hope, provides His peace that surpasses all understanding, and fights for us. At all times when we are overcome by the troubles of this world, we can rely on God who is big enough to handle anything we are facing and is worth following with our whole being. For me, it is also comforting to realize that the emotions I feel are part of being human and that often the more important question is how I respond to the emotions. And so the question remains, given how I am feeling today, do I still faithfully follow God and give my whole life to Him?

Advertisements

not enough…

Hi! My name is Victor and this is my first GWBlog post, in which I will be briefly introducing myself and my interests.

I recently graduated from Princeton as a biology major and am currently in the midst of the medical school application process. Like a young middle-school boy, I easily get distracted by whatever is going on around me and have a wide variety of interests, whether travelling, trying new foods, or spending time outdoors.

For me, seeing the world through the lens of the gospel has meant exploring and considering how the gospel appears in the little things in my life. Maybe it’s because committing to delving too far into a single topic sometimes makes my head hurt, but I like thinking about a wide range of topics relating to my life and examining how the given situation in my life is touched by and changes because of the gospel. I am very interested in trying to find ways that my daily experiences relate to my faith walk.

For example, I truly believe that it was not simply through hard work and luck that I recently finished my medical school secondary applications in a timely manner. For the past three weeks, while being on a mission trip in Taiwan, I was writing tens of essays and consequently got very little sleep on most days. It was definitely through God’s grace that I had so much energy during these two weeks. One of the students I was working with commented that their first impression of me was that I always had so much energy. Maybe the milk tea in Taiwan was extra caffeinated, or the kids were just that fun. But regardless, I believe that it was truly God’s grace that I had the energy that I did given how little I was sleeping.

Recently something that has been pressing on my heart, especially as I tried to explain to medical schools (in my applications) why they would want me as a future student, is that I can never be enough.

I am constantly reminded about how I am not enough. Not smart enough, not good-looking enough, not [fill in any positive adjective] enough… Being on the swim team at Princeton, I was constantly reminded of how I wasn’t fast enough, not strong enough, etc. With friends, I’m not nice enough, not patient enough, not understanding enough. As I worked on my medical school applications, I realized that my grades could be higher, I could have published some papers, I could be a more eloquent writer, I could be more insightful and have a more interesting life. As a Christian I wonder why I still get so nervous and anxious in the face of adversity even though I believe in God. The list goes on…

But I am encouraged that God loves me for who I am and that if my identity is rooted in Christ, I am enough because my identity is rooted in something far greater than me. Christ never changes and thus if my identity is rooted in Him, I have nothing to fear. Of course, this is much easier to have as head knowledge than to actually believe wholeheartedly and live out.

I was recently very encouraged by this verse:

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
-1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Despite our weaknesses, God makes us enough.

On a somewhat related note, I think in our quest to try to be enough, we also try to change ourselves to become something other than what has God has created us to be. We try to conform ourselves to being happier, funnier, more outgoing, smarter, etc. (or maybe we try to adjust our personas in the other direction). But recently I was encouraged as I watched Pixar’s Inside Out (a film about how our emotions work inside our heads…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kArxASiw3Y). For some brief background, Joy (the yellow colored “emotion” character) and Sadness (the blue colored “emotion” character) are two of the emotions that inhabit the mind of the main character Riley (the middle-school girl in the trailer). I was touched as I watched the film and realized, with Joy, why Sadness was a critical component of the main character Riley’s mind. Sadness was just different, not better or worse than Joy, and I think so often we are tempted to think of ourselves as not enough because we focus on who we are compared to others. But really we’re just different from those around us, not necessarily better or worse. I believe that God has created us to be enough with a very unique, important role in His plan and that we just need to find out what that role is.

I’d really encourage you to dig deep and look at where the foundation of your identity lies. Can you say it’s wholly based in Christ? Ask the hard questions. What’s the worst that can happen because you aren’t enough in this way or that way? Will God still be there with you even if you utterly fail? Like it will be for you I’m sure, I am only slowly understanding what it means to have my identity fully rooted in Christ.

As you can see, my thoughts sometimes wander as I try to incorporate too many different parts of my life into a single post. Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your thoughts!