I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NLT)
Everyone has up days and down days. Christians are no exception. When we are in a desert faith-wise, as I have been for a while, it is so important to have people around us that can build us back up. Also, we should remember the example that these people set for us, so that when we’re back on the mountaintop, we can lift somebody else up who needs it.
Unfortunately, the tendency in these dry seasons of the soul (especially for a cave-dwelling introvert like me) is to pull away from people. We get used to our misery, and it seems that we would rather prolong it than to have someone tell us what we need to hear.
The problem with that is that when we pull away from people, we pull even further away from God than we were already feeling. That’s when the old bad habits start rearing their ugly heads again. One of my biggest fears since accepting Christ is that someone is going to encounter me during one of these bad times and associate what they see in me with Christianity in general. What if I’m standing at the throne at the End of Days giving an account of my life, and I find out that someone missed out on the Kingdom because of something I said or did that turned him or her away?
But fears like this can actually accelerate the downward spiral. We might figure, “If I avoid people entirely, then I won’t run the risk of blowing my witness and staining the name of Jesus.” So we pull even further away, not just from society, but even from the hand that feeds us.
Another manifestation of getting into a spiritual funk like this is that we stop reading the Bible. Everything we need to adjust our attitudes is right there, and the Holy Spirit is only too willing to illuminate the verses that we need to hear, but again, we are too comfortable in our misery to put forth the effort of opening a book. I am so grateful to have a wife that will put scriptures in front of me when I am not going to them myself.
Do you have someone in your life that cares enough about you to give you a lift like this whether you want it or not? If you don’t, then find one. The best place that I have found for this type of community is in a small group (sometimes called “life groups” or “cell groups”) in a church. If you are not familiar with this concept, it’s a group usually of 8-15 people that meet regularly to go deeper together in their faith than they would get by only going to church on Sunday morning.
What we need to remember is that we were set apart from the world to be WITH God and His people, not to be hermits in a cabin in the mountains (not that there’s anything wrong with mountains!).
As I mentioned in Part 1, a normal life involves difficulties. For a Christian, those difficulties include enduring people who mock the Name of Jesus and those who adhere to it. Sometimes it seems that life would be easier if we didn’t have to endure that, but we have to remember that this life is not all there is. The next one is a lot longer.
God’s joy and peace are there for the having. You just have to want it. But sometimes, you need somebody to remind you that you want it. So don’t ever be afraid to call for backup.