When You Shouldn’t Follow Your Instinct About a Situation

Are there times when your instinct can lead you astray? Pastor Chris shares when to listen and when not to.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

My eight year old son has a concrete memory and an even more concrete way of viewing the world. Several months ago I gave him a certain color of a certain brand of juice to drink. Almost immediately after drinking it he threw it up. We realized later that he was sick with a stomach virus but there was no convincing him. He remains convinced that it was that exact color and brand of juice that made him vomit. He won’t come near the stuff.

His gut reaction is to reject the juice even though his instinct and gut feeling is inaccurate. Regardless of how many times and in how many ways I explain to him that the juice was not the culprit in his illness, he’s unconvinced. He trusts his gut more than my explanation.

If I’m honest, I’m often the same way in my relationship with God. Rather than trusting what I know to be true of God from His Word, I only trust my gut instinct about God. The trouble is, my gut isn’t very accurate because it responds mostly to my feelings and very little to the truth.

The constant pressure of chronic pain can have a way of driving us into a place where we are operating instinct, rather than what we know to be true. Constant pain often has a way of distracting us from what we know to be true of God.

When I feel afraid my gut tells me that God is far away. When I’m in pain my gut tells me that God has left me alone to suffer. When I grieve my gut tells me that God has abandoned me to mourn.

In an article in the Mosaic Bible, Tamara Park says it this way, “In disappointing times I often relate to God through the ‘god of my gut,’ the god of my assumptions and inarticulate doubts, versus the God of Scripture.”

In John 8:32 Jesus told His disciples that the truth would set them free. For us to be free from the god of our gut, from the god of our offhand assumptions, our knee-jerk reactions to pain, then we’ve got to learn the truth from Scripture that God is immediately available to us in our pain.

He never leaves us abandoned. (Psalm 46:1, 59:17) We are never any further from His love and care than the distance between His heart and ours. And He lives within us, the Holy Spirit, the very presence of God, entwined with our spirit.

Sometimes our instincts serve us well but when it comes to God we’ve got to be mindful to believe the truth about God from the Bible, not from our gut.

Prayer: Gracious and everlasting God, open my mind and heart to the truth of Your constant and steadfast love for me. Move me beyond feeling too trusting; beyond trusting to assurance. Amen.

About the author:
Chris Surber is the Pastor at Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk, Virginia. He is a religion columnist for the Suffolk News Herald and a contributor to various Christian publications. You can visit his website atwww.chrissurber.com

What time have I spent in the Word of God learning of the love of God for me today? Are my assumptions about God’s care for me in my pain in line with the truth of His Word?

Have you ever felt your instinct was different than God’s truth? This song, “Full Attention” by Jeremy Riddle asks God to let it be clear when He is speaking, to let His will be known, to lead him the right direction. I think you’ll like it. -Lisa

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