Overcoming Isn't Easy.
When your inner reserves run low, they need to be replenished!
By Graemme J. Marshall
When it seems God doesn't hear your prayers-when you question whether you are called-when you wonder why it seems God isn't more active in your life-you are echoing the words of no less than King David, who cried: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?" (Psalm 22:1-2, King James Version).
And, "I sink in deep mire .... My eyes fail while I wait for my God . ... For I am in trouble; hear me speedily" (Psalm 69:2-3, 17).
Why spiritual downs
To give out daily to others and at the same time keep your inner self under spiritual control demands a discipline that can leave your spiritual tank close to empty. You can become drained unless your inner reserves are renewed regularly.
Liken it to drawing water out of a tank without fresh supplies coming in to keep up the reservoir level. Like a dam in drought, as the water level sinks you see dead trees, stumps and debris that are usually well covered.
Similarly, when you get low spiritually, your unsightly attitudes are not so well covered. Spiritual reserves can be depleted by the constant demand to be enthusiastic, zealous, encouraging and sympathetic. You can feel empty.
To encourage others by radiating a high amount of Christian zeal, you have to continually make your own spiritual renewal a top priority. Here are two keys that can help you become spiritually revitalized. You can renew your spiritual relationship with God and with what God is doing through solitude and through involvement.
The need for solitude
Jesus often sought to be alone. His example teaches us to isolate ourselves from the things in man's world that choke God from our lives (Matthew 13:22). Jesus surely was the most outstanding motivator ever! Yet the Bible does not picture Jesus as a back-slapping, 24-hour-aday cheerleader. The Bible reveals Him as a person who often spent time alone to think, plan and pray. The Bible records how on at least one occasion Jesus spent the whole night on a mountain in prayer (Luke 6:12) .
Other times He was out before sunrise (Mark 1 :35). Peter and the other disciples at times had to search for Jesus, saying, "Everyone is looking for You" (verse 37). Jesus would separate Himself from the crowds to be alone with His Father. But what would Christ have gained from solitary moments?
Privacy, for one thing. The chance to be away from people, noise and interruptions. At first light of sunrise He could observe the natural environment as it awakened-birds chirping and fluttering, for example.
The awesome sight of sunrise with that extra chill just before dawn. In quiet stillness He could reflect, meditate and talk aloud to God without embarrassment or distraction. Many people rise before dawn. But many only observe car exhaust, concrete, steel and glass. Some see only dead animals on roadways and perhaps tragic vehicle accidents. Jesus knew the disciples needed renewal.
The disciples at one point had been so busy, without even time for proper meals, that Jesus wisely made the decision, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest" (Mark 6:31). The disciples went off by boat to retreat for a while and pray, meditate and reflect. Unfortunately, many of us live in crowded environments like that of Isaiah's prophetic description: "Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, till there is no place where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land!" (Isaiah 5:8). Many don't have access to solitude. Of course, you can only do the best you can.
Time with God is the priority- not whether you happen to be in more natural surroundings. If you cannot make a specific "getaway" per se, you still might be able to take an occasional walk amidst nature, perhaps on God's Sabbath. At times in your Christian life you might need to seek a place of solitude for a spiritual fast- alone except for your Bible and a booklet or article concerning the purpose of your physical denial. Solitude frees you from the interruption of telephones, television and other distractions. It allows you to focus all your attention on beseeching God. This occasional need to get away for a while is to restore your relationship with your Creator.
Ever wonder why you get so negative? Perhaps your daily preoccupation is oriented toward the negative. Newspapers, radio and television, filled with the latest deaths, disasters and crime, are often the first thoughts that enter your mind each day. If your morning prayer is also preoccupied with the struggles of daily living and making ends meet, no wonder you end up in a negative state of mind before the day has even begun!
You have to actively disengage your mind from negative thoughts. Paul exhorted, "Whatever things are true .. . noble . .. just .. . pure . .. lovely . . . of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8). Your mind has to be fixed on the positive. Test yourself. It is easy to be negative: Think about your weaknesses, things you have failed to achieve or what you dislike about yourself. As the list grows, so probably, does your depression!
Everyone is discouraged occasionally from overcoming human nature and from dealing effectively with other people. When you are, it is important to renew yourself in the most noble activity of all-striving to become like God.
Now think of the good points about yourself. You might find it takes effort to develop a list. If you have trouble coming up with what is positive and hopeful, it might be that too much of your waking day is spent on dispiriting thoughts. You have to work on what is positive.
The negative, in this world of Satan's, takes no effort! So get involved in thinking positively. In prayer, give thanks and be uplifting. And since not all people are positive influences, you may find you occasionally need to distance yourself from pessimistic situations. Read Proverbs 14:7, 22:24-25 and Psalm 26:4-5, 101 :3-7. Who are positive people? The opposite of those who tear you down, make you feel inferior or who weaken your beliefs in God and your commitment to God's Church. We all need people who calm, encourage and make us feel solid like a tree. Associate with people who hear you out without a lecture, confirm you in your faith, build you up and strengthen your true calling. In an unproductive period in his life, David said, "I was mute with silence, I held my peace even from good" (Psalm 39:2). You need positive acts in your life to balance the downs. Strengthen your spiritual commitment by being involved with what God wants of you:
• If you are not praying regularly, get involved in talking to God. And-get involved Ever wonder why you get so negative? Perhaps your daily preoccupation is oriented toward the negative. Newspapers, radio and television, filled with the latest deaths, disasters and crime, are often the first
• If you are dogged by bad habits, get involved in a program to solve them.
• If you are concerned about what is happening in the world, get involved in supporting the Work that is warning the world about where it is heading.
• If you are not refreshed from life's weekly struggle, get involved with better keeping God true day of rest, the Sabbath.
• If you are concerned about understanding the Bible more, get involved in the Bible Correspondence Course.
• If you are worried about your future, get involved in repenting and changing.
Everyone is discouraged occasionally from working on overcoming human nature and from dealing effectively with other people.
When you find yourself in this situation, it is important to draw aside for a while to renew yourself in the most noble activity of all-striving to become like God. Once renewed, then get busily involved with what God is doing through His Work on this earth. And remember: To give out you must also put in. And you must take time to do it!