I'm spiritually stuck. We are stuck people. We get distracted, pulled down, undone. God feels distant and irrelevant. Dane Ortlund says, "You are not abnormal. So relax. We all go through this from time to time." Seasons of spiritual darkness are common — even when many pretend they're an anomaly. Even when indifference pirates our most pious intentions, and we surrender ourselves to isolation in our lack of holy zeal, don't be deceived: gloom in the Christian's heart is common.
It does often look and feel different for different people:
- Your daily fear of future tragedy erodes your affection for God.
- Your experience in corporate worship is empty and distracted.
- You feel unimpressed, aloof to the things of God.
- Patterns of repentance crumble and fade.
- The preached word seems boring.
- Hymns prompt only an irregular cadence of exhausted sighs.
- Spiritual advice trips over its own triteness on its way to cynical ears.
- Christian articles online induce more guilt than help.
Day after day, sermon after sermon, small group after small group, we're discouraged and frightened by a widening gap between the desired self and the real self. We feel the torque pulling between our desired relationship with God — the desired emotions, the desired disciplines, the desired relationships — and the real.
It feels like the solution should be simple — another round of repentance, a worship song, a Paul Tripp devotion. Something. Anything. But those things either don't feel effective or mysteriously elude us. Here are six places to start — intentions to experiment with — when you feel spiritually stuck and alone. "Intentions" are things that we easily lose. They are good, but they can be slippery. Find yourself in one, or a few, of these intentions. They’re not all right for you. But discover which one might be most relevant to you now. Read through them, and search for words for your heart. Read them in sequence, and look for the helpful nutrients you need.
1. Be honest about your heart.
We read, "I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog" (Psalm 40:1–2). Well, then. What a wonderful experience for David. #Blessed. But not all of us have yet been pulled from the bog.