Why are we so emotionally fragile?

I am reading ‘The Roots of Endurance’ by John Piper, which is the story of three great men of a bygone era: John Newton, Charles Simeon and William Wilberforce. John Piper studied the lives of these three men because he wanted to know what it was that made them persevere amidst great suffering and tremendous resistance. Piper contends that we live in an era of emotional fragility – and we would do well to learn from the lives of these men who seem to have had a secret of endurance which few of us have.

Here is something which struck me from the words of Charles Simeon: ‘My rule is – never to hear, or see, or know, what if heard, or seen, or known, would call for animadversion from me. Hence it is that I dwell in peace in the midst of lions.’ Piper comments: ‘We would all do well not to be curious about what others are saying about us. There is little good that can come of it: pride, if the comments are good; discouragement, if they are critical; anger, if they are false. These are not the emotions we need to cultivate. Trusted cousnel from reliable people, not rumors, is the stuff of good self-assessment.’

Perhaps one of the reasons for our modern emotional fragility is an over-awareness of what others think and say about us – and an under-awareness of what God thinks and says about us. Charles Simeon ‘devoted the first four hours of the day to private prayer and the devotional study of the Scriptures….Here was the secret of his great grace and spiritual strength.’


4 thoughts on “Why are we so emotionally fragile?

  1. Pingback: Why are we so emotionally fragile? « Coastal Reflections « Coastal Pastor

  2. The thing is, Jesus was confronted with what people thought about Him, said about Him; He was confronted with a lot of negative stuff – He didn’t choose not to hear it, or see it or know it. But His relationship with the Father was stronger than it all. The Father’s voice was stronger than any other “voice” – and He rested and was secure in that higher knowledge – in what God His Father thought about Him, what God the Father had to say about issues. That was His reference point. We need that same inner strengthening in our spirits – our spirits being made strong through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the power of the Word of God. Our emotions will then be subject to our spirit and receive strength from the Spirit of God. Instead of ruling, they will be “ruled” by Him. I just want to grow in this more and more. Communion with the Father is the key, being filled with the Word of God, so that our minds and emotions are established in His Love, in His truth – in who He is.

  3. Thanks for this, Alison. I think Charles Simeon would have agreed with you – the four hours he daily spent with the Lord rooted him so deeply in the knowledge of God and in what He thought of him that the other voices – which obviously he did actually hear all around him – were weak compared to his Father’s voice. I like what you say about our emotions being subject to our spirit which receives strength from the Spirit of God.

  4. thanks Pauline – i did misunderstand the text. I love that way of putting it, that those other voices “were weak compared to His Father’s voice”. How we need to spend time with Him! God bless!

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