How Truth, Doctrine, and Good Thinking Can Help Your Emotional State

I run into alot of Christians that are ruled by their emotions. Now, I am not saying we should be stoics and not use the emotions God gave us for his glory. I also know that sometimes we are in great emotional pain. But I recently came across this quote from Tim Keller. He says:

“In Philippians 4:8–9, Paul says, “Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure . . . think about such things. . . . And the God of peace will be with you.” Now, when we hear terms like “noble” and “right” we might think that Paul is merely recommending high and inspirational thoughts in general. But scholars of Pauline literature tell us that is not the case. He is not referring to general loftiness of mind but rather to the specific teaching of the Bible about God, sin, Christ, salvation, the world, human nature, and God’s plans for the world—the plan of salvation.Paul also uses the word logizdomai to describe how we are to think about these things. That is an accounting word, sometimes translated “to reckon” or “to count up.” Paul is saying if you want peace, think hard and long about the core doctrines of the Bible. This is so completely different from what you will find if you walk into any bookstore and go to the section on anxiety, worry, and dealing with stress. Here is what you will never see: None of the books will ever say, “Are you stressed, unhappy, or anxious? Let’s start dealing with that by asking the big questions: What is the meaning of life? What are you really here for? What is life all about? Where have you come from, and where are you going? What should human beings spend their time doing?” Never! Contemporary books go right to relaxation techniques and to the work-rest balance. For example, they will say that every so often you should go sit on a beach, look at the surf, and just bracket out worrying and thinking about things. Or they will give you thought-control techniques about dealing with negative thoughts and emotions, guilt thoughts, and so forth.

Why don’t contemporary books on stress and anxiety tell you to respond to it by doing deep thinking about life? It is because our Western secular culture is perhaps the first society that operates without any answers to the big questions. If there is no God, we are here essentially by accident, and when we die, we are only remembered for a while. Eventually, in this view, the sun will die and all that has ever been done by human beings will come to nothing. If that is the nature of things, then it is no wonder that secular books for people under stress never ask them to think about questions such as “What are we here for?” Instead, they advise you to not think so hard about everything but to relax and to find experiences that give you pleasure. Paul is saying Christian peace operates in almost exactly the opposite way. Christian peace comes not from thinking less but from thinking more, and more intensely, about the big issues of life. Paul gives a specific example of this in Romans 8:18, where he uses the same word, logizdomai, and speaks directly to sufferers. He says, “I reckon that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that shall be revealed in us.”

To “reckon” is to count up accurately, not to whistle in the dark. It is not to get peace by jogging or shopping. It means “Think it out! Think about the glory coming until the joy begins to break in on you.Someone reading this might say, “You are talking about doctrine but what I really need is comfort.” But think! Is Jesus really the Son of God? Did he really come to earth, die for you, rise again, and pass through the heavens to the right hand of God? Did he endure infinite suffering for you, so that someday he could take you to himself and wipe away every tear from your eyes? If so, then there is all the comfort in the world. If not—if none of these things are true—then we may be stuck here living for seventy or eighty years until we perish, and the only happiness we will ever know is in this life. And if some trouble or suffering takes that happiness away, you have lost it forever. Either Jesus is on the throne ruling all things for you or this is as good as it gets. See what Paul is doing? He is saying that if you are a Christian today and you have little or no peace, it may be because you are not thinking. Peace comes from a disciplined thinking out of the implications of what you believe. It comes from an intentional occupation of a vantage point.”- Tim Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, pg 298-299.

What are some of my picks on learning the basics of doctrinal truths?

1.What Christians Ought To Believe

What Christians Ought To Believe - By: Michael F. Bird

2. Know the Truth: A Handbook of Christian Belief

Know the Truth: A Handbook of Christian Belief / Revised - eBook - By: Bruce Milne

In my experience, when our emotional state is not where it should be,  in many cases, what you know is what really helps you with those issues. Thus, knowledge can be a big boost!