Lately I’ve found it incredibly difficult to write, and there’s a reason for that:
I wish I could blame my fatigue on the spotty sleep schedules that come with parenting a small child, but the exhaustion runs much deeper.
I’m not sleep deprived; I am spiritually and emotionally drained.
Without going into the details, Ike and I are engulfed in a situation that is draining the life out of me. It has sucked away my energy, leaving me with little motivation to do anything at all. Whenever I have free time to work on my dissertation or write or prepare for a talk, I don’t want to do any of it. I just want to crawl into my bed and pull the sheets over my head. I don’t even have the energy to leave the house, let alone write, create, and do ministry.
I don’t know when Ike and I will be able to extract ourselves from this toxic situation, but until then I am figuring out how to deal with the spiritual oppression that has descended upon my heart and mind. I feel heavy, and angry, and bitter, and I don’t want to get stuck there.
When faced with trials like this one, it’s easy for me to focus on the problem itself. It’s easy to get tunnel vision, which leaves me feeling trapped. Even hopeless.
That is why, during times like this, it helps me to remember the big picture. It helps me to take a step back and see my life from a wider angle.
When I do, I remember two things:
1. Jesus is greater.
When I am exhausted and depressed, it’s tough to harness the resources to fight back. I don’t feel like doing anything at all, including spiritual disciplines like patience, love, and mercy.
In times of great weakness, I can do little more than breathe out the name of Christ.
But that’s ok, because his name is powerful.
The character and sacrifice of Jesus Christ is so mighty that his name alone commands influence (Luke 10:17, Acts 16:18). And during weeks like this one, that is such good news. I don’t have the energy to do much, but I have just enough to utter Jesus’ name.
So that is what I’ve been doing. As I clean the dishes, I whisper “Jesus.” As I do the laundry, I quietly pray “Jesus, Jesus.” And as I pick up after my son, I breathe out “Jeeesus.”
As I do, I feel a hedge of protection descend around me. God knows what I need, He knows my heart, and He hears my cry. I only need to call on him, and it is enough.
That tiny little prayer, that simple name, can move mountains.
2. I have an enemy.
Around the time our trouble began, I had seen some growth in my ministry. My blog traffic had surged, my writing opportunities had expanded, I was receiving more speaking invitations, and I was about to start on my dissertation.
So many good things….And now I don’t have the motivation to do any of them.
The timing is strange indeed. Now, I’m not quick to assume that my circumstances are a spiritual attack, but they might be. And if they are, if there is more to this situation than the immediate difficulty before me, then I only have one thing to say:
I will rally. I might be tired and dragging, and I might be writing less, but I will not give up. I will rest, but I will not run away. Not because of anything strong in me, but because I serve a God who overcame the grave, and He will overcome this too.
We all need an occasional break from the daily grind of ministry. Sometimes life knocks us off our feet, and even ministry itself can leave us limping. When this happens, it’s important to rest and recuperate. We need time to get back up.
But that space for rest and healing, that season when you’re lying flat on your back wondering what in the world you’re going to do, that is not a defeat. In that moment, the Enemy hasn’t won. He can’t, because he has already lost.
In the coming days and weeks I will tend to my soul. I will give this situation the spiritual attention it needs. I will probably write less until it passes, and I will allow myself time to rest.
But make no mistake, this isn’t over. I serve a God whose very name causes the demons to tremble. I also serve a God who conquered death, a feat that dwarfs the obstacles facing me now. I am a weak and fragile vessel, but I serve a God whose power is made perfect in weakness.
I might be down, but I will get back up. I will finish the race. I will fight the good fight again.
Until then, please send a prayer my way. I could use it!