So . . . you’re in a spiritual funk.
You read your Bible, but don’t learn a thing. You pray, but nothing happens. You sing, but don’t feel God’s presence. All your Christian friends seem to be “on fire for God,” but you’re doubting your faith. You’d hate to admit it, but you feel alone.
Can you relate?
Good news: You’re in good company.
While you should be grateful for the sense of God’s nearness, and the times when you’re rapidly progressing in godliness, this is not always the norm. The Christian life is not one of incessant happiness. It can be filled with highs and lows, ebbs and flows, and sometimes you’ll hit a funk.
But what can you do when you find yourself in one?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But here’s at least six things to consider if you find yourself in a season of spiritual funk:
1) Sometimes this is just God’s sovereign will.
Why are you in a funk? I don’t know. But God does, and he doesn’t always give you the answer. Sometimes, in God’s perfect, mysterious, sovereign will, he allows these seasons to teach you to trust in his changeless character, rather than your changing feelings.
Instead of being hyper-focused on escaping this season, start with a realignment on the gospel, and trust that God will get you out on his timing.
2) Remember you’re not alone.
Few men have been used more mightily of God than Charles Spurgeon, and yet Spurgeon was afflicted with inescapable depression.
He writes,“Fits of depression come over the most of us. Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.”
So if you find yourself in a funk, remember you’re not alone. Many spiritual giants have had the same experience.
3) Take care of your physical body.
Ask yourself this: Am I taking care of my physical body?
I’m talking about things like sleep, exercise, and diet — all of which have a direct correlation on your spiritual life.
For example, take sleep deprivation. A lack of sleep will affect your prayer life and ability to kill sin, among other things, and eventually make you miserable. God doesn’t need sleep, but you do.
In his excellent book, Scandalous, D.A. Carson says, “Doubt may be fostered by sleep deprivation. Sometimes the goodliest thing you can do in the universe is get a good night’s sleep—not pray all night, but sleep. I’m certainly not denying that there may be a place for praying all night; I’m merely insisting that in the normal course of things, spiritual discipline obligates you get the sleep your body needs.”
Take care of your body. It’ll better help you take care of your soul.
4) Examine your devotional life.
Don’t want to sound legalistic. But without regular, extensive time spent with the spiritual disciplines (Bible reading, prayer, etc), you simply won’t experience much spiritual strength. Feed on Christ daily.
5) Consider your idols.
Some form of idolatry might be the number one strain on your spiritual growth. Elevating things like marriage and money and success to the place of God in your life will hinder your progress. And it could be that God is using this season to reveal your idols, as it were, and wake you up.
Nevertheless, idols must be replaced, not just removed. If you don’t replace an idol with the gospel, another will grow. In the context of community and prayer, consider the idols that may have led you to this funk.
6) Have accountability.
Tell someone you’re in a funk. Ask them to pray for you. Meet with them regularly. God has placed people around you to help.
Pray Like Habakkuk
I don’t want to sound like there’s a formula for everything, because there’s not. The revealed things belong to us, but the secret things belong to the Lord. And sometimes you can do all the points mentioned and feel no improvement. This is true indeed. But take heart: God’s mercies are enough for your misery.
Consider Habakkuk’s solution to God’s perceived absence. In the book’s first two chapters, Habakkuk’s prayers are nothing but complaints. Habakkuk notices the sins and rapid spiritual disorientation of the people of Judah, and it deeply troubles him. Worse, he is so frustrated because his perception is that God is letting sin go unpunished and consequently not distributing justice. He is disappointed that God is not answering his prayers.
This is how the book starts. But it’s not how it ends.
In the end, Habakkuk’s attitude changes, and he learns to trust God through the trial:
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17).
Maybe God wants you to learn the same.
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