Surviving a Spiritual Funk

A spiritual desert.

A dry spell.

A slump.

A valley.

A case of the spiritual “blahs”.

A bout with spiritual depression.

A season of spiritual silence.

A lingering spiritual “funk.”

Whatever you call it, have you experienced one? Have you ever gone days, weeks, months, or maybe even years without knowing the soul-deep sweetness of repeated “wow” moments in God’s presence? Have you lost that “lovin’ feeling” in your relationship with Jesus? When you speak of passion for God and His Word, do you have to speak in past tense? Does God’s “still small voice” seem way too small, and His “unsearchable” ways way too hidden?  Are your quiet times way too quiet? Does the “overflow” of spiritual satisfaction that you once felt continue to elude you, seeming to always be just beyond your reach? You may taste it once in a while, but has it been a long time since you really feasted on it?

If so, than guess what – we have something in common. I’ve been there too, plenty of times. I know that frustration. I’ve cried those tears. I’ve felt that void. I’ve experienced that loneliness.

Would you think less of me if I told you I went a whole year without any consistent time with the Lord? What about if I told you it wasn’t in my distant past, but recently?

Is it okay to say that as a mature, Bible-saturated believer, I went months without feeling much of anything for God or His Word?

I hope so, because it’s the truth. It’s a chapter in my story that God has not given me permission to edit. It’s a real and vital part of the whole of my spiritual life. Did God cause it? I’m still not sure about all that. Did He allow it and use it to deepen my faith, suffocate my spiritual pride, and make me more like Jesus? Absolutely.

Spiritual “funks” can be caused by a number of things – trials, grief, major life-changes, sin, busyness, depression, chronic physical pain, or simply God’s sovereign choice to back off a bit in order to test and strengthen your faith. My most recent dry spell was caused by a major life change: the birth of my first child. I know that moms are supposed to look back at the first 6 months of their child’s life and feel lots of warm, fuzzy things and talk about how they’d give anything to have their teeny tiny baby back. I am hoping to get there some day, but I’m not there yet. Not even close. I’ll take a walking, talking, some-what self-sufficient preschooler over an infant any day!

I won’t get into all the details, but being a stay-at-home mommy of an infant rattled me to the core and had a major effect on my relationship with Jesus. After years of freedom to take as much time as I wanted to “marinate” in God’s Word and then pour out into the lives of women through Bible teaching, the all-consuming needs of a baby took me by surprise. In fact, they were a total shock to my carefully ordered system!  (It’s not that I wasn’t warned . . . I guess I just chose to ignore the haggard looks and smoke signals of the new moms who crossed my path. :))  Add to that the physical/emotional side effects of the postpartum hormones and sheer exhaustion, and you have quite a recipe for what the old timers called “spiritual melancholy.” Shepherd was about a year old before I started having a daily quiet time again and almost two years old before I started to feel the “fog” of spiritual dryness begin to lift.

I spend a good two years in a spiritual battle. The enemies – “life” and my own unsteady heart; the prize – joy; the weapons – we’ll tackle that in another post.  Some days I fought well. Other days I didn’t even try. Spiritual depression can be paralyzing of we let it. Sometimes I let it.

But thankfully, that’s not all. I’m delighted to tell you that this chapter of my life has a happy ending. This part of my story is redemptive. It doesn’t make me look all that great, but it testifies so beautifully to the sufficiency, steadfastness, grace, and “more-than-enoughness” of my Savior, which is the only reason I’m willing to share it.

If I were to give this chapter a title, it would be one word:  “Faithful.” In all the ebbs and flows of my spiritual affections, God has never changed, He has never left me, He has never forsaken me, He has never stopped speaking, He has never stopped working, He has never ceased to provide – He has never failed me. Not once. Not ever. And He never will.

 Whether I have the ears to hear, the eyes to see, and the heart to feel or not, I belong to a God who is more committed to my holiness, my wholeness, and the perseverance of my faith than I will ever be, even on my best days.

When my heart cries out for an answer to the question, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?” (Ps. 42:5);

When, in a moment of gut-wrenching honesty, I dare to ask, “Will the Lord reject forever? And will He never be favorable again? Has His loving-kindness ceased forever? Has His promise come to an end forever?  Has God forgotten to be gracious?” (Ps. 77:7-9);

When the deadening silence and emotional uncertainty gives birth to a question I never thought I’d ask: “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” (Ps. 22:1);

When “I cry by day, but [God] does not answer; and by night, but I have no rest” (Ps. 22:2);

When my heart is “embittered” and I am “pierced within” (Ps. 73:21);

I choose to hold on for dear life to the one thing I know will never changethe steadfast character of my fiercely faithful Heavenly Father. Though my flesh and my heart may fail, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Ps. 73:26)!

For the next couple of weeks, I’d love for us to explore this topic of “surviving a spiritual funk” together. I will be blogging as much as I can about it, and I’d love to hear your stories of God’s faithfulness in your own desert seasons, and the highs and lows of your own fight for joy. If your chapter doesn’t have a “happy” ending yet – if the picture of God’s perfect sufficiency still isn’t crystal clear – that’s okay. The purpose of this series to is help you get there.

God’s Word offers sweet, soul-soothing hope for spiritually depressed hearts. So, pour yourself a warm cup of coffee (or several – this may take a few weeks!), add way too much of your favorite creamer, and let’s “marinate” in all that sweet, soul-soothing hope together.

 

Comments

  1. I feel that this has so been me lately, I have a 3 year old and a 5 month old and lately I have been so emotionally drained with having two, it is unreal. The 3 year old has really been testing me lately and all I can do is to just pray to God everyday to give me the strength to get through the days and help me to be more calm and peaceful when I feel like I am about to lose my mind. It has been hard to have anytime for myself and to make time to study God’s word. Thank you for posting this , I couldn’t have said this post better myself.

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