According to verses 18-39, every situation we have to face in life has two parts. What we discover from scripture is that there is the experiential side of the situation and the non-experiential side of the situation. This is the side of the experience we cannot confirm with our five senses. There are set limits in any situation beyond which our senses cannot take us. This limitation constitutes a test of our faith, 21-25. The experiential side looks like this.
We are assailed with the “present sufferings” of verse 18.
We live as part of the created world, 19.
We have material bodies, 23.
We are plagued with weaknesses, 26.
Verses 35-36 tell us that we experience death, trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword. These are things that are real and commonly experienced by all men. These are things that press down upon us and with which we can readily identify. These are things that threaten to separate us from Christ if certain representational controls are not in place.
The non-experiential side of the situation that is hidden from our senses looks like this.
The Holy Spirit helps us, 26.
The Holy Spirit intercedes for us, 27.
The reality of the workings of God which are hidden from our field of observation, 28
The foreknowledge of God, 29
The intercession of Jesus, 34
These are things that are equally real that we cannot see. These are thing that allow us to endure even dreadful human experiences without being psychologically overwhelmed. Biblical faith will not allow us to conceive of any situation strictly in terms of the experience of it. To do that is to abbreviate the situation which eliminates the half of the situation we cannot see. It cuts God out of the situation. This was what Israel did at Sinai when they demanded Aaron make a god of gold.
The experiential side of the situation is only part of the situation, and the only thing we know about the non-experiential side is what we know from faith. The only way we know that this side of the experience exists is because scripture tells is it does. We cannot see the workings of God in all things, 28. We do not experience the intercessory actions of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, 26. This has been revealed to us only through revelation. What Paul is doing in verses 18-39 is presenting to us the architecture of the Christian life.
We know that Satan works on the experiential side of the situation. If you need confirmation of this fact, just read the first two chapters of Job. We also know that faith is rooted in the non-experiential side of the situation. The mind controlled by the sinful nature says, “If I cannot experience it, then it is not part of the situation.” The mind controlled by the Spirit knows better. This Spirit controlled mind has an amplified comprehension of life and behaves accordingly. When tempted to sin, the mind controlled by the Spirit looks beyond the immediate gratification of the temptation to the other side where he sees the end result. A weak faith will cancel out the non-experiential side of the situation every time. This is what happened to Abraham and Sarah when they chose to go with the Hagar option.
Our emotions are affected by how we view a given situation. When difficult situations arise, these often produce fear, anxiety, doubt, and even cowardice. This may be normal but it does not mean the emotions cannot be managed. Emotions can be brought under control so that they do not allow the circumstances to overwhelm us. Emotions must be detached from the experience and then reattached to the amplified comprehension of the situation. In other words, our emotions must give way to our confidence in the Lord. This is uniquely a biblical principle. So, how do we do this? Paul says we do this through prayer, faith, and obedience.
These verses are directed at the emotions because the emotions have sufficient influence to separate us from the non-experiential side of the situation and entice us to focus on the experience itself. That happens when our emotions are not stabilized, controlled, and disciplined. We are not to allow our emotions, which are created by the situation, to be controlled by the situation. When we do this, we become,
"convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to
separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."