In high school I heard Chuck Swindoll say emotions are the caboose and our will is the locomotive. I don’t agree with major aspects of his ideology and based on the prevalence of this statement online, it is probably important to determine the origin. The assumption is, emotions are led by the will. They are the “caboose”, your will is the head of the train. When you control what you think about, decide on something and act, the emotions will come in line.
Practically speaking, this could mean when you are in a bout of depression. Force yourself to start doing something towards GOD’s will. Pick up your Bible and start reading. Something may come into your mind of how you could apply what you are reading. Pray on it deeply and sincerely. Then act.
This mindset was very important to me and I think played a role in keeping me sane during my youth. When I was in 4th or 5th grade, I had an “episode” of extreme “emptiness”, like there was a dark pit inside of me, full of loneliness and just complete despair. It happened in the evening. I was crying uncontrollably. My family looked me over carefully and sat next to me but they were puzzled at what was happening. They had some medical equipment and checked me over but did not see any immediate problems. It wasn’t a feeling of fear with it, but something related. I don’t know how to explain it. But it was absolutely overwhelming.
I never had an episode like that again, but I continued to have less severe ones, even till now. The last being in January when I was very sick for a few days.
A few years later in Junior High and High School I struggled with a severe ulcer and the beginnings of Crohns disease. I would be in extreme pain daily, and sometimes in the worst of it, it was a comfort knowing that suicide was an option. I don’t know how to phrase that to line up with exactly the thought during those times. It is not an exact translation; it is more like knowing there is a door in the corner you won’t take but it is there. Before I was saved, it was a million times harder dealing with the emotional roller coaster and constant pain. I had been to many doctors until one finally successfully treated me when I was 17. The timeframe of that ordeal was between the ages of 12 – 13 to 17.
My point in mentioning in this is when I heard the teaching of emotions when I was 14, it was a great comfort to me. I also used a technique of focusing my mind on a single point or an image a scene. I did this in times of severe pain. In periods of depression I would try to “pull” myself out of it. And it was some comfort to know at least in part I was in control of my feelings and that GOD wouldn’t put me through more than I needed. Fire is needed to burn away the imperfections.
I had been tormented in school by fellow classmates during junior high so I had some experience with that area as well. During that time, one of the first books I read was proverbs. That book was with me at the beginning of my salvation. It was a great comfort to me. It instructs us to be humble, pray for others and look to GOD and be patient for his deliverance. It will happen at the right time.
The periods of depression feel like a weight, a chain around my neck or head area, and the weight extends past my ankles above my feet. It wants to draw the center of me with it. It’s very difficult to describe. It’s like the will is my physical body, holding on to it, to keep it from going under. In those times, I’m in prayer and reading the Word till it passes. Sometimes when I cry out to GOD, the help and relief is immediate. And sometimes it lingers and does not pass. I remember in those times that everything happens for a reason, “all things work for good to those that love Him”. He will not give me what I can’t bear.
The problem isn’t getting what you want, it’s getting the wrong things, they are poison to you. To understand those situations, we have to pray and submit. In many cases there is sin in our life that has left us unprepared for the trial. We must remain diligent in the Word and our faith or else our house will be shaken and fall.