Hard Seasons

Hey, friends.

Life happens in seasons.  Ecclesiastes in the Bible tells us that there is indeed a time for everything: for laughter, for sorrow.. for success, for loss.  We would be fantasizing (albeit a lovely fantasy) to imagine that our lives would be nothing but smiles and vigor and cheer.
For those of us serving in ministry in any capacity, dealing with “low” seasons can be especially difficult because we are still required to positively shepherd those entrusted to us.  Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel for those low seasons, and there doesn’t seem to be significant immediate relief.
God cares deeply about our feelings.  He created the spectrum of emotions and gave us as free will beings the capacity to intimately feel these emotions.  It is important to Him that we learn how to control our emotions in a healthy way.  So how do we walk through a low season without yielding to the temptation to give up or get burnt out?
Through my own prayers, I came up with a few thoughts that help me gain a little “God-perspective.”  Hopefully if you find yourself walking through a low season, one or more of these will benefit you.
  1. Learn to trust God’s sovereignty.  What you are feeling doesn’t surprise God, and experiencing a “blue” emotion doesn’t offend God.  In everything He allows our way, He is leading us closer to Him, and frankly that’s all we need to understand.  Take every day as it comes, and make the best individual decisions you are able to make.
  2. Have a disciplined spiritual life.  One sign of a mature believer is to continue with the practice of studying Scripture, praying, singing, and fasting even when you don’t feel like it.  God never promised that we would always feel His Presence; He simply asks us to be faithful disciples.  A promise of God that we can hold onto, though, is that if we seek God with all our hearts, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13, also see Luke 18:1-8).
  3. Make sure you are eating healthy, exercising, and sleeping enough.  Our eating habits, exercise habits, and sleeping habits directly affect our attitudes, which can quickly affect our passion and spiritual perspective.  Go for a morning jog, or lay off the ritualistic coffee in favor of an apple and a glass of water.  You may be surprised at the results!
  4. Bless someone.  Sometimes a low season may seem worse because we are so obsessed with how we’re feeling.  Try moving your attention to the needs of someone else.  Bring some pastries to work tomorrow morning to share with your coworkers, send a thank-you card to the guy who cuts your grass, do your spouse’s chores for her.
  5. Remember, problems are always bigger at night.  This is something I would hear all the time from Pastor John Lindell when I attended James River Church in college – and it is so true.  When your mind wanders at night, it’s somehow easier to entertain thoughts of negativity, worry, or discouragement.  This has been a source of hope for me as I can look forward to the morning when somehow my major problem last night isn’t quite so big anymore.  If you feel you easily succumb to negative or worrisome thinking at night, train yourself to replace that sort of wandering mind with something healthy – like reading a book, exercising, or painting – until the morning when you can reflect with a refreshed mind.
Of course, hard seasons are hard, and I’m not negating that.  Make sure to maintain a posture of openness to God through it all, as it can become easy to be calloused in these kinds of seasons.  And remember that I’m praying for you.
Find strength in His Word and His Presence.
Josh
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