God created all humans with emotions and feelings. Going by God’s original design of man, all human’s emotions both positive and the negative such as love, anger, guilt, anxiety, grief, and their associated feelings, are beneficial and good. They are designed as man’s inner means of responding to reports of different things, happenings or situations from the physical/spiritual realm by the human senses to the mind. Different happenings and situations arouse different emotions and different emotions have different feelings associated with it. The human emotions and feelings are of the mind and spiritual in nature and therefore can easily conform to what they are exposed to, which implies they could easily shift grounds or change course. They are influenced and controlled. All emotions and feelings can increase tremendously in intensity.
FORCES THAT INFLUENCE EMOTIONS AND FEELING:
Many things can influence our emotions and feelings positively and negatively:
- The power in control of each individual’s life has a great influence on one’s emotions and feeling. When God is in control of one’s heart, the heart is influenced positively and one is able to stand holding on to life no matter how overwhelming the emotions may be as seen in David, Job, Apostle Paul, and Joseph. However when Satan is in charge emotions which ordinarily are powerless over one take on a frightening proportion pulling one down with great power as seen in the lives of Samson, King Saul, Ahitophel and Judas.
- In our last post, we pointed out the fact that our thoughts patterns negative or positive do have great influence on our emotional responses. Positive thought influences our emotions positively. Negative thoughts influences our emotions negatively. Negative thoughts pattern on anything that arouses any of the emotions and feelings would corrupt such emotions and make them become harmful to us. The more one thinks deeply on a particular negative incident or happening the more the emotions and feelings gather momentum until they reach a dangerous and uncontrollable overwhelming degree. Once the emotions and feelings overwhelms one, one enters into depression and from depression to despair and from despair to hopelessness from hopelessness to suicide. Our emotions dictate our actions.
- Alcoholic intakes and drugs can influence our emotions either negatively of positively most especially when abused can make one loose total control of one’s emotions and feelings.
- Hormones: As humans, our body contains certain glands that produces hormones e.g. adrenalin which helps regulate our body systems. Under normal emotional situations, the level of hormonal secretions are normal and keep the body, soul, and spirit in good shape. However, under intense emotional conditions, the glands secreting these hormones will release an excess of related hormone into the bloodstream. These excess hormones are toxic, it can produce overwhelming negative effects in our mind and in the body
- The lengths of time /duration spent in any particular emotional disposition and feelings, the more one gets used to it and the more it becomes part and parcel of one until it becomes a habit. Habits they say die hard.
All the characters studied so far under in this series such as Samson, King Saul, Ahitophel, Judas, Joseph, Job, King David, and Apostle Paul exhibited almost all the different emotions during one situation or the other. However Samson, King Saul, Ahitophel and Judas allowed their emotions to overcome and destroy them. While Joseph, Job, King David and Apostle Paul overcame their emotions.
UNDERSTANDING THE EMOTIONS
The emotions that will be treated here are as they pertain to suicide.
1. GUILT: This is an emotional response aroused whenever one’s spirit convicts and one’s conscience judges one for a wrong done against God, others and oneself. Guilt is associated with the feelings of sorrow, pain, discouragement, anxiety, remorse, regret, shame, blame-shifting, weeping, and self-punishment. It also has its physical manifestation of tension, tiredness, lack of appetite and sleeplessness as Psalm 38 revealed. Guilt can be normal or intense in degree. Normal guilt feelings for any wrong done are not bad because they help us to realize our shortcomings and enables one to accept fault, seek for forgiveness from the offended, accept forgiveness, and make amends/change. However, intense guilt is dangerous and destructive because it brings pessimism, self-condemnation; it makes life miserable which leads to depression which makes one hate life.
The story of two characters King David and Judas one of the disciples of Jesus who committed a similar offense of plotting the murder of two innocent people revealed how two individuals responded differently to guilt. King David plotted the death of Uriah and got him killed because of his wife Bathsheba that he (David) got pregnant through adultery 2 Samuel 11. God sent Prophet Nathan to rebuke him and passed His judgment about his sinful deed against Uriah and he felt very sorrowful about it. He admitted his sins to Prophet Nathan, confessed and repented (2 Samuel 12: 7-13). Psalm 51 showed the depth of his sorrow and confession of sin. He continued with his life.
Judas on seeing that his action of betraying Jesus led to His condemnation to die on the cross, felt very remorseful. Even though, he accepted responsibility for his action, repented, confessed his sins and made restitution by throwing down the thirty pieces of silver he had collected on Jesus’ head. He went ahead and hung himself (Matthew 27:3-6).
The difference between Judas’ and King David’s guilt feelings was that David’s emotional guilt feelings were of godly sorrow that led to life while Judas own was worldly sorrow (remorse) self-loathing, self-despair, self –condemning. Apostle Paul gave a perfect contrast of the two types of guilt feelings in 2 Corinthians 7:10. Godly sorrow makes us look to God while remorse makes us look at ourselves. Godly sorrow works a change of direction. Remorse feelings work self-condemnation and self-punishment and insecurity and despair. People who are depressed, lonely, grieving, and are terminally ill all experience guilt as part of their problems.
2. GRIEF: Grief is the natural emotional response to the loss of any precious thing such as job, fortune, opportunity, health, money, loved one and several other things. The most devastating guilt is the loss of a loved one such as a spouse, parents, and child because they are irreplaceable and the death irreversible. The physical symptoms of grieve are weeping, sighing, loss of appetite, dry mouth, and tiredness. Grief can be normal or intense. Normal grief produces sorrow, pain, loneliness, anger, guilt, emptiness and sadness. However, intense grieve causes intense guilt, depression, helplessness and hopelessness and thoughts of suicide.
The Bible reveals that King David grieved for the anticipated death of his infant son and his grown-up sons Amnon and Absalom in 2 Samuel 12:15-17, 13: 31,39: 18: 33. In 2 Samuel 1, he grieved for King Saul and his three sons most especially Jonathan who died in battle. Job was thrown into grievous grief for the loss of everything he had including all his children in one day as revealed in Job 1:13-19. He wailed Job 3:3,11
3. FEAR/ANXIETY: Fear has two sides, the positive/healthy type and the negative/unhealthy type. The positive type is the natural feeling that is borne out of reverence for God and is called fear of God. Fear of God is good and in several places of the Bible we are encouraged to have this type of fear. Fear of God keeps one in check from doing anything that will make one displease God and also keeps one from sin and all forms of evil (Proverbs 1:7; 8:13; 16:6). It brings riches, honor and abundant life (Proverbs 22:4). Joseph exemplified great fear of God.
The second type of fear is a common emotion condition and inner feeling of apprehension, uneasiness, worry or dread that comes up when one thinks he/she is in danger or that something bad might happen or when one is afraid of a particular thing including people. It varies in degrees. It may manifest in a mild way as mere anxiety over something or total unreasonable dread or hatred (phobia) for something or to paranoia (unfounded fear or suspicion of other people). Fear, when mild has its good side because it makes one cautious and helps keep one from danger. When it becomes a phobia or paranoia it has increased to a high emotional degree which is dangerous and destructive. If utmost care is not taken on time, it escalates to an overwhelming degree where one considers suicide as a means of escape
The Scripture in 1 John 4:18 that says fear “hath torment” best describes the negative effect it has on the mind, mentality and the physical body. According to Gary R. Collings Phd, a renowned Christian psychologist “in times of anxiety, the body appears to be on alert, ready to flee or fight. The heart beats faster, blood pressure and muscle tensions increase, neurological and chemical changes occur within and the person may feel faint, jumpy, and unable to relax or sleep. Fear is disabling, unpleasant and makes one timid. It robs us of our peace. It is a dark shadow that envelopes us and ultimately imprisons us within ourselves. It makes one lose courage, become cowardice, and makes one involve in serious negative thoughts. It magnifies a problem it makes a mountain out of a mole and makes one lose focus. Fear is like a magnet attracting the very things we fear as in the case of Job. It clouds our judgment and distorts our perspective It cuts life short and it is the major cause of various kinds of emotional disorders; anxiety disorder, panic attach, behavioral disorder, personality disorder, and depressive disorder, mental breakdown. It is a product of fear and doubt when it is prolonged, intense and uncontrollable.
King David was a God-fearing and very courageous warrior. However, at a very critical stage of his life, he became afraid of King Saul who wanted to kill him and he almost gave up in despair and he cried in sore perplexity (1 Samuel 27:1). Fear made him lose courage, and his integrity. He was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath that he pretended to be mad (1 Samuel 21:12-13). In 1 Samuel 30:6, he encouraged himself and found strength in the Lord his God.
King Saul was a man of great potentials and a great warrior, however, the fear of men made him obey his subjects instead of God (1 Samuel 15: 24). He feared David and this made him hate him and wanted to kill him (1 Samuel 28:5, 20). He kept a jealous eye on him and soon started throwing javelins at him (1 Samuel 18: 9). He became afraid when he could no longer hear from God. He was afraid when he saw the host of Philistines (1 Samuel 28 5). In despair, he turned to a medium which God commanded against. What he saw and what he was told made him sore afraid, he fell straightway all along on the earth. And there was no strength in him (1 King 28:20). King Saul actually died that night before he committed suicide the next day in the battle.
4. ANGER is one of the emotional responses exhibited by all both young and old due to hurt, fear, frustration, disappointments, threats injustice or an unfair or a bad happening. We get angry more with people than with circumstances we find ourselves. Grievous words stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1). It occurs in varying forms and degrees of intensity from moderate annoyance to violent rage. It can be constructive or destructive. It can be of short duration and it can persist for decades in form of bitterness, resentment or hatred. It can be hidden inside one’s mind and held inside or expressed openly. It is often times destructive when it persists in the form of aggression and revenge. It is a leading cause of accidents on the roads, broken relationships, depression, sickness anxiety, grief, and interpersonal tension. revenge it makes you hurt and pained, According to Gary R. Collins PhD, “anger isn’t wrong in itself, anger clearly can get out of control and cause a variety of problems, including revenge, verbal and physical abuse, and passive aggression.”
A critical study of two of the characters (Samson and Ahitophel) under our studies who committed suicide did so due to Anger. Samson’s fight with the Philistines was primarily motivated by his personal anger and revenge than any other thing (Judges 14:19; 15:4-5; 7-8). Anger and revenge were what made him kill himself alongside the Philistines (Judges16:28-30).
Ahitophel, that powerful counselor to King David and Absalom of many years whose counsel was said “to be as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God” (2 Samuel 16:23) must have been very angry most especially when the counsel of his counsel was accepted in place of his own. He must have felt so humiliated, dejected by that rejection that without any expression of his feelings he saddled his donkey and “he … put his household in order, and hanged himself and died,…” 2 Samuel 17:24. He had been overwhelmed by anger.
5. DEPRESSION in a milder form is a state of sad and sorrowful feeling or being emotionally downcast. Sadness is an emotional feeling associated with the feeling of loss, discouragement, helplessness, grieve, dissatisfaction. All the unpalatable life situations and experiences of life such as losses, ill health, bereavement, side effects of drugs, disappointment, and all negative emotions and feelings associated with them, such and grief, guilt, anger, anxiety, unworthiness, and negative thoughts and pessimism could lead to it. According to Collins “The more intense the negative emotions and feelings the more severe the depression, severe depression overwhelms it victims with feelings of despair, fear, exhaustion, immobilizing apathy, hopelessness, inner desperation, and thoughts of suicide,”
No other feeling renders a person almost useless and lifeless in life as depression because it takes away all inner drive and reduces strength, disrupts lives, it takes away motivations and makes one lose interest in work and other functions. It suppresses the immune system causing ill health.
All the characters under our studies expect Joseph experienced depression at one time or the other. King David, Job, Apostle Paul all came out of depression (1 Samuel 30:4; Job 3:3, 11).
6. LOVE: Love, unlike every other emotion, is not a negative response of the carnal heart to negative happenings and things based on information by the human senses but a positive response of a spiritual loving heart that is assured of God’s love in all things and situations either it positive or negative. It flows from a self-loving, pure heart, a good conscience with no guilt feelings or fear and a genuine faith in God (1 Timothy 1:5;1 Peter 1:22). Love’s feelings are heavenly, good, pleasant full of peace and joy. This type of emotions and feelings are full of great benefits to the body, soul, and spirit.
Joseph passed through a lot of challenges and he came out triumphant in them all without showing any negative emotions associated with such challenges. He lost his beloved mother at an early age yet he did not allow grief to overwhelm him. He was hated with a passion by his brothers yet he did not despise or avoid them. They sold him into slavery that led to his many years of sufferings including imprisonment yet he was not angry with his brothers that sold him. He was separated and cut off from family members and all that matters to him yet he did not suffer from loneliness. He suffered false accusation, injustice, imprisonment yet he did not get depressed. He had the opportunity to avenge himself of all the wrong his brothers committed against him but he did not, instead, he showed them kindness, forgave them and encouraged them to forgive themselves (Genesis 45:5-8). His victory was of love. Joseph had a perfect control over his own emotions and feelings that despite all the unfair treatment he experienced from his brothers, He refused to be bitter in the face of injustice; he refused to revenge wrongs done to him when he was in a position to do so. Love is not only the fulfillment of all laws but the power that overcomes all negative emotions and feelings!
HOW TO CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS:
a). HAVE FAITH IN GOD
All those who committed suicide did so due to the hopeless situations they found themselves in without any visible help nearby. However, others like Joseph, Job, King David, and Apostle Paul turned to God for help and they were helped. Faith stabilizes one’s emotions because we have believe in God and have an assurance of his presence with us and help in time of trouble “…fear not: for I have redeemed thee, and I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isaiah 43:1-2). Hold on to God in all situations and you shall be helped’
b). GIVE YOUR EMOTIONS TO JESUS.
Overwhelming emotions and feeling are not easy to handle, they are burdens too heavy for anyone to carry about. Are you battling with negative emotions and feelings and looking for a way out? Give the burdens of your emotions to Jesus totally and He will help you manage it. He is still in the business of stilling the raging storms of the sea as He did before! He knows all about our feelings and emotions, he even expressed anger, grieve, depression, yet he sinned not. As long as He remains the Lord over your emotions you won’t experience difficulties with your emotions. So be Born again.
c). BE MINDFUL OF THOSE FORCES THAT INFLUENCE EMOTIONS
To control overwhelming emotions and feelings, it is important that those things earlier pointed out as forces that can influence our emotions and feelings are dealt with. Therefore;
- Stop all negative thoughts and think positively (Philippians 4: 8)
- Don’t take alcohol or use drugs without a Doctor’s recommendation. Don’t abuse alcohol or drugs.
- Respond positively to situations so that your glands will not over secrete poisonous hormones into your bloodstream.
- Remaining in any of the negative emotions does no good, and does not solve any problem. Therefore stop it! Spend your time doing something tangible that will benefit your life and others.
d). OBSERVE THESE CHARGES BELOW
God not wanting our emotions and feelings to put us in a mess gave the believers certain charges concerning to help them. Obeying these charges are of immense help for in doing them “the peace of God which passeth all understandings, shall keep your heart and minds through Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7. Some of them are;
1) Look unto Jesus Hebrews 12:2.
2) Let the word of God richly dwell in you Colossians 3:16
3) Pray without ceasing 1 Thessalonians 5:17
4) Rejoice in the Lord always Philippians 4:4
5) In everything give thanks 1 Thessalonians 5:18
6) Be strong, be courageous Psalm 37:5
7) Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you 1 Peter 5:7
8) Love your- self Matthew 5:44
9) Love your neighbor including your enemies Matthew 5:44; 19:19.
10) Love not the world 1 John 2:15
11) Be still, and know that I am God Psalm 46:6
12) Let love be without dissimulation Romans 12:9
13) Call upon God in time of trouble Psalm 50:15
14) Be ye steadfast, unmovable 1 Corinthians 15:58
16) Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer Revelation 2:10
17) Fear not Isaiah 54:49; Isaiah 43:1
18) Do not let your heart be troubled John 14: 1, 27
19) Be anxious for nothing Philippians 4:16
20) Put your trust ye in the Lord forever Isaiah 26:4, Psalm 4;5
21) Trust not a friend Micah 7:5
22) Do not remember the former things… Isaiah 43:18-19
23)Be angry but sin not Ephesians 4:26
23) Be not hasty to be angry Ecclesiastes 7:9
24) Refrain thy voice from weeping and thy eyes from tears Jeremiah 31: 16