Part 2 of a 3 Part Spiritual Dryness Series
In my previous article in this series on overcoming spiritual dryness in the wilderness, we looked at how prioritizing our relationship with God, believing God’s word despite our circumstances, and remembering His promises brings spiritual refreshment. In this article, we explore the importance of knowing what a healthy relationship with God looks like and how to find meaning in our wilderness season.
6.) A Relationship with God is Like No Other Relationship
A healthy relationship requires time and communication in order to flourish and our relationship with God is no exception. It’s not enough to read or study about God ̶ relationship is about experience. However, the wounds we have from our relationships with broken people have skewed our concept of what a healthy relationship looks like. People might feel rejected, abused, misunderstood, insignificant, forgotten, disliked, or unworthy in their relationships. When we are wounded, we can subconsciously project our dysfunctional relationship experiences onto God, believing that He will treat us in the same way. Our early attachment experiences, especially with our parents or siblings, create a blueprint in our brain of how relationships are supposed to function. These relationship “rules” might include the following: “People abandon me when I mess up.” “Men disrespect me.” “People lie.” “I am not worthy to be known or seen.” “It is not safe to share my feelings.” “I am not loveable.” Breakthrough in the wilderness comes when we realize that our relationship with God is totally different from anything we have experienced. God wants to teach us what a real, healthy relationship with Him looks like. And it is better than we can ever imagine.
Here are a few thoughts to consider as you adjust your vision:
- First, God does not abandon us in our failures. Instead, He is faithful and loves unconditionally and there are no limits to His love. God is always beckoning us to come to Him, no matter where we are at. Jesus will meet you at your lowest point, but will never treat you as if you are less than valuable. Many Christians feel ashamed or are fearful to approach God in the wilderness because they feel a failure and anticipate God’s disapproval or anger. But God values a repentant heart more than a flawless performance. He is a loving Father who is ready to embrace you in your weakness. He will not reject you, for He has adopted you forever as His child.
- Second, a relationship involves two-way communication. God desires to honestly communicate with you and wants you to reciprocate. He created you for relationship and that includes the ability to hear Him. John 10 states that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and that we are the sheep who know and recognize His voice. God wants to share His heart and thoughts with you and He wants you to do the same with Him.
- Third, God wants to spend time with you. He delights in you. You are completely known by God and are never misunderstood by Him.
- Fourth, you are so valued by God that He handles you with care.
- Lastly, you are not a burden to God. Like a good Father, it is His joy to meet the requests of His children. If you are feeling spiritually dry, just tell God and ask Him to refill you. God loves to rebuild, comfort, and restore. To counter the lies, ask God: “Father how do you treat me? What is relationship like with you?”
7.) Spending Time with God
As in any relationship, time apart chips away at intimacy. We need to move near to God, not away from Him ̶ especially during the wilderness seasons of life. 1 Samuel 30:6 tells us that David “strengthened” himself in the Lord in the midst of trouble. When David experienced great betrayal and rejection he chose to encourage himself in his relationship with the Lord, instead of giving into despair. The Hebrew word for “strengthen” means “to establish oneself firmly, to repair, to restore, to prevail.” In times of distress, we need to encourage our own soul in the goodness of God. David sought the Lord, even when his circumstances looked bleak ̶ and the Lord gave him direction and promised him the full recovery of his losses.
What does strengthening yourself in Lord look like? Just start talking to God. Maybe meditate on a scripture that applies to your situation, or recite it to yourself. Sing a worship song, or just listen and soak in the words. Maybe start to thank Him or write to Him in your journal. Listen to an inspiring sermon or reflect on His faithfulness and blessings to you. When you approach God, remember His promises to you and remember that He knows what you need. Maybe you need a release. Cry out to God like David in the Psalms and bare your soul to Him. Tell Him about your pain. Give Him your burdens and emptiness. God asks us to give Him our concerns because he cares for us. He promises rest for the weary and refilling for those who are empty.
As you cry out, your heart and spirit are opened to receive new revelation. Maybe you need to feel His comfort. God promises that He is close to the broken hearted and will calm you in all troubles. Invite God into your pain and dryness. He wants to minister to you and His desire is to heal and renew you. Maybe you need clarity. At times our own agenda and expectations get in the way of what God wants to do. Try approaching the Lord without an agenda and just sit as his feet and listen. In the MSG version, James 1: 5-8 states: “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.” God generously gives wisdom and wants to help you. You are not alone in your decision making, for God is there to help you solve your challenges. Each day the Lord has something to tell you and this daily word is an anchor that will strengthen you. One word from the Lord can unlock confusion.
Encouraging yourself in the Lord may also involve community. During periods of spiritual dryness it is important to not to become isolated. We cannot flourish in isolation. Spending time with people who inspire us is important in helping us to continue to pursue Christ. God intended us to be an extension of Himself in order to encourage and build one another up. Strengthening yourself in the Lord could involve visiting a healing room to receive prayer, attending a church conference, going to a worship service, joining a small group, or just enjoying the company of fellow believers.
8.) A Season Never Wasted
Life can feel wasted and meaningless in the wilderness. You may feel as if you are lost and alone. I want to encourage you that God can restore, return, make use of, and redeem your losses. What the enemy intended for harm in your life, God turns around for your good and uses to bless you. For Moses and the Israelites, the Red Sea became the promise of a miracle rather than a problem. God is always creating something new in us, even in the midst of hardships. He is always working on your behalf. God never sleeps concerning His children and restoration is at the core of His character. Isaiah 43:16 states: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” During times of pressure and adversity, God is forming a pearl in your darkness.
God never wastes our time, but uses trials to our benefit. However, we have to partner with Him and must align ourselves with God’s perspective. We cannot rely on our own perspective to get us through difficult times. Instead, we need to ask God: “What do you want me to glean today? What do you want me to see? What do you want to say to me?” Bill Johnson says that we cannot afford to have a thought in our head that is not His. We need to adjust our thinking to God’s thinking as God wants us to co-labor with Him. Ask Him what the meaning of this season is so that you can agree with what He is preparing. God turns our problems into potentials. By potential, I mean that we have to choose to work with God, believe God, and change our attitude. Our situations will not turn for our good without our cooperation. God led many major Biblical characters into the wilderness to prepare them for a great destiny, such as Moses, David, and Jesus. Be encouraged, if God has led you there, He has equipped you to be successful. If He has not led you to the wilderness, be encouraged that He will still rescue you out of it. So this desert time may be about training and strengthening, a time of refining faith, or a time of healing. Maybe sin needs to be addressed, and this may be a time of repentance so you can be set on the right course again. Be on the lookout for the new thing that God is creating in your pain.
Christian Counseling to Overcome Spiritual Dryness
There is power in what you choose to focus on ̶ or what you choose to stare at grows. If you are being inundated with negative messages, you need to work that much harder to choose to surround yourself with positive influences that will increase your faith. Combat the pain, despair, weariness, and emptiness with messages of hope. Spend time with Hope itself. In therapy together we can look for signs of new growth and look for the story of recovery that Lord is weaving into your life to help you feel encouraged again. As a Christian counselor, I would love to come alongside you and help you to grow in your relationship with God as you find meaning in your desert experience. If you would like to find out more about how Christian counseling can help you to rediscover God’s love, please reach out to me here.
Photos“Path to Mountain,” by Ikuni, FreeDigitalPhotos.net, ID 100207390, “African American businessman is thinking intensely,” courtesy of Microsoft, “Young Plant,” by amenic181, FreeDigitalPhotos.net, ID 100254445, “Votive Candles,” courtesy of Microsoft
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