The reason we so often ignore our emotions is because we live in a culture of abundance that says we don’t need them.
Feeling sad? There’s an app for that.
Feeling bored? There’s a show for that.
Feeling lonely? There’s a dessert for that.
We turn to many things to help us feel better and solve our stress. They give us a big blast of dopamine in our brains, which helps us feel happy, if only for a moment. Psychologists call these dopamine-producing things “pleasures.”
But here’s the thing: research has found that if we continually solve our stress with pleasures, then we won’t know how to deal with our stress. This inability to face our stress only strengthens our stressors.
What pleasures are you turning to when you feel stressed?
The Bible is clear that pursuing pleasures only hurts us.
Just look at the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. The son pursued all the pleasure he could, until he was left with nothing in an extreme famine.
Or consider Esau who, for the pleasure of food, sold his birthright to Jacob (Gen. 25:32).
Now, this is not to say that God does not want us to feel good ever. There was a reason we were created to crave dopamine so much.
God wants us to be happy, but not at the expense of knowing Him and all He has for us. God wants us to grow through difficult things and experience the happiness of lasting joy in Him.
Psalm 27:14 tells us to wait for the Lord and have strength and courage. Before we try to escape our pain with a pleasure, we need to have the courage to wait for the Lord.
We need to pause, practice stillness, and not allow ourselves to try to solve our stress by our own power. Doing so will not only increase our reliance on God, but increase our capacity for true joy (not manufactured joy).