Week 39 Help When Life is Out of Control

Help When Life is Out of Control

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Week 39

Scripture Readings: Numbers 25-28

Key Scripture Verses: Numbers 25:1-3 (NIV, Life Application Bible)

“While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them.”

In recent years there has been a lot of talk about emotional intelligence, but frequently I think the problem with being out of touch with our emotions and not being able to “self-regulate” our emotions is really a spiritual problem at its core. People tend to be driven by their emotions. Ask any advertising executive or psychologist what causes people to buy something they don’t need or really want or to engage in behavior that is not good for them. It’s not about their logical, rational decision making—it has everything to do with how they handle their emotions. And when our emotions are out of balance, the only real way to do what is in our best interest is to gain control over them by engaging our spiritual selves and leaning on God to help. So, currently, according to the secular world, “emotional intelligence” and “self-regulation” are the buzz words for knowing how to fix what ails us—but, maybe what we really need is “spiritual maturity” and “self-discipline.”

Our key scripture verse here cites how the Israelites were getting out of control with indulging their sexual desires. Per the commentary, there is little known about how the Israelites first became sexually corrupt, but it mentions that the pagan Canaanites regularly engaged in “sacred prostitution, “ and that perhaps this was the source of influence. The commentary indicates that the Israelites did not set out to worship idols, but that because of their relaxing their moral standards because of their desire for sex, they became more and more vulnerable to the influences of pagan worship. While seeking sexual gratification, they became vulnerable to worshipping idols, as well.

Most people do not set out to become raging alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, thieves—they allow themselves to experiment with trying some things that they may or may not realize are harmful when they start out doing them. Or their curiosity and temptation get the best of them. Most of us are vulnerable to some extent. Insidiously, little by little, it becomes easier to relax our standards. And then, one day, VOILA!—an addiction, an unhealthy behavior has taken hold of us. Indulging our sensual desires, numbing our emotions, dulling the pain reinforces our behavior—we become miserable on the one hand, but only after first being reinforced by trying to fill that emptiness inside of us—often just dulling our emotions so that we no longer have to feel the pain. And then we are hooked–our lives become unmanageable, and we are stuck, unhappy, and miserable–we are unable to help ourselves.

When we are teenagers, we defy the teachings of our parents and we experiment with the world around us, believing that our peers know better than our parents; we are trying our wings, trying out our own decision making skills, because we believe our parents don’t know the score anymore, they’re not up on things, not hip to the trends, not progressive. Parents try, but they can’t tell us—we have to try things ourselves, make our own mistakes. And we do!

And so it must be with God—he has to allow us to make some mistakes. And we do! But, luckily, he has made provision for that through Jesus. God wants us to be in relationship with him, but he didn’t want to program us as robots that acted perfectly according to his will—he wanted us to desire being with him, to desire that we do his will, to willingly come to him for his aid. He wanted a relationship with us that was not one-sided. He wanted us to willingly choose to be in relationship with him and, in order for that to be possible, he had to allow us some free will. And he knew there was a price to that—that we might likely separate ourselves from him through sin. It was inevitable that we would sin, because only God himself was perfectly pure and all-knowing. So when the time was right, he sent Jesus to show us the way, to die for our sins, and to reconcile us back to Him—as long as we accepted his gift, willingly accepted his gift though faith.

Only through our faith, through God’s love, and through his grace can we fill that emptiness inside of us. Only God can help us when we have strayed so far and gotten into so much trouble that our lives have become unmanageable. He loves us and he cares for us. His love is everlasting. He is unchanging and steadfast in his love and faithfulness. He loves us!

We become spiritually mature through faith and faith comes from reading the scripture, prayer, and a daily walk with Jesus. May we be emotionally intelligent enough to become spiritually mature in our walk with the living God—it’s the real answer to our pain and suffering. It’s life transforming power. Nothing is more powerful than the healing love of God himself—nothing!

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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