When it comes to physical growth and health, you have two kinds of practices or disciplines. You have trainers and you have doctors. Through nutrition and exercise, trainers help you get further than you were. They help you make progress physically. But when you get sick or maybe injure yourself, you need a doctor to get you back on track. You need trainers to get you forward from where you were; you need doctors to get you back to where you were physically.
We need the same things spiritually. There are spiritual disciplines that are more like training – disciplines by which you grow into the person God has meant you to be, such as meditation and prayer. But there are other spiritual disciplines that are more defensive. That is, they’re ways of treating problems and difficulties. This is what we find in Psalm 42-43. We learn about a specific condition to which we are susceptible and then we’re given a set of cures for this condition. Becoming skilled at dealing with this condition is absolutely critical if you’re going to make spiritual progress.
Think of spiritual exercises like working out at a gym or visiting a doctor. They help us grow and also heal us when we’re feeling spiritually weak. Simple activities like praying or meditating can help shape us into the people God wants us to be. It’s important to learn to handle spiritual issues, as they can affect our spiritual growth.
1. The problem
Feeling spiritually empty is like being a thirsty deer looking for water. This can happen even to those who are dedicated Christians. This feeling of being far from God can be hard, especially for new Christians, causing them to doubt their faith. That’s why it’s important to learn how to handle these dry spiritual times, as they are a normal part of our faith journey.
2. The causes
Feeling spiritually empty can come from not having a community to worship with, feeling disillusioned, or even physical issues. The importance of personal and group Bible study, prayer, and praise is highlighted. It criticizes spiritual practices that are too focused on the individual. It’s important to balance our emotional, physical, and spiritual needs, with a focus on listening, supporting others, and seeking truth.
3. The solutions
When feeling spiritually dry, it’s important to examine ourselves and remember our value comes from God, not from outside things. Asking ourselves hard questions and reflecting on our feelings helps us understand ourselves better, which is key to communicating effectively. We can find comfort in praising God and thinking about His love, even when we feel alone. This can lead to spiritual growth through self-reflection and participating in the Lord’s Supper.