Spiritual Dryness – A Sign of Spiritual Growth?
Do you know what it feels like to be passing through a season of Spiritual Dryness? Where are all the warm fuzzies that you had when you started your journey?
Maybe you haven’t done anything wrong. Perhaps, it’s just the opposite…
Are YOU Experiencing Spiritual Dryness?
You will definitely know when you are experiencing a season of spiritual dryness. It hits you like a ton of bricks. God feels far away, your faith feels strained, prayer becomes more of a chore than a joy, and you begin to wonder if it is all worth it. It is called “dryness” because your soul feels parched. All you want is some relief, reward for your work, or balm for your wounds, and yet God seems to hold back from us all consolation for reasons we cannot discern.
Remember when you used to pray and God was very close? You enjoyed spending time together! When you talked to Him, He talked to you! He wrote your name in the stars and spoke to you in the sunsets. When you lost something and asked for help, all of a sudden you found it. Miracles were normal in your life. All you had to do was look up in that desperate plea and you didn’t even have to say anything.
Ok, maybe it was never that easy, but it was close. It felt so good to have such a close relationship with God.
but then it all goes away…
It’s so easy to ask WHY? Why me? Why this? Why now? It’s easy to wonder if maybe you did something wrong in order to fall “out of favor” with God. But, maybe that’s not it at all…
Spiritual Dryness usually leads to Spiritual Panic
It is so easy to trust when all your prayers are answered. But, what happens now? Now that you’ve trusted, stepped out of the boat, bared your soul, and made yourself vulnerable – Why do you feel so alone?
Shouldn’t you be rewarded at this point, instead of having your life just get that much more difficult?
You are scared now. You want to turn back. Have you made a mistake?
“Can’t I just get back on the boat?“, you think, “At least I FELT safer there…”
But the boat has drifted off and the shore is nowhere to be seen… You are left standing alone on the water. The waves are high and you can barely see His face. With the wind whipping your hair and the water stinging your eyes, you feel your feet starting to sink. You want to look up to Him, to reach out in hope, and joy, and trust like some painting you once saw, but you can’t.
“Will He really catch me?” you wonder.
You are still afraid. And, to be honest, you can’t see Him anymore. It’s like the wind and waves are against you and the water is actively pulling me down. The more you fight the more you seem to falter.
What are you supposed to do now?
Rewind to the stars and sunsets…
Darlin’, that was the honeymoon phase! 😉
After that begins the marriage, the real stuff of life. The ebbs and flows of the daily struggle. The hurt, the heartache, and, yes, let’s admit it, the all too often desperate loneliness.
But the honeymoon gets us through it. The love you experienced when things were easier makes love possible when things are hard.
The real test of love is when it’s hard!
When things are easy, it is easy to make promises. The real test of love is if we KEEP them!
Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” – Matthew 26:35
We all know how that went…
A Time of Preparation
Our Lord spent 3 years calling His disciples by name, SEEING them, KNOWING them, FEEDING them, LOVING them, EXPLAINING everything to them.
But, that was just it… He only spent 3 years with them. He was TEACHING them in order to then send them out. (Mark 6:7, Luke 9:2, Luke 10:1)
He wanted them to be ready. He wanted them to be fed (Mark 8:3). He wanted them to be capable of following in His footsteps.
“you will drink the cup I am to drink!” – Matthew 20:23
Who are we to be any different?
No servant is greater than his master. John 13:16
What does it mean to follow in his footsteps?
Christ had a childhood.
He was born to loving parents who cared for him, protected him, fed him, clothed him and brought him up in the Jewish tradition. He had predictions of glory and kingship. For 30 whole years he lived a happy, peaceful, quiet, normal life.
And then He started His public ministry.
He went out from His mother’s house into the turbulence and violence of a corrupt and needy society. – And He ministered to the people without ceasing for the next three years.
During this time He taught us what it means to follow God. And not just with His word but with His actions.
And how was He rewarded?
With abandonment, betrayal, isolation, and death.
The childhood of our faith is beautiful too
It is joyful and alive. Everything is provided for us. It is like a honeymoon – confident and excited.
And then, the rubber hits the road.
We start having to grow up.
At some point we leave the shelter of the home where everything is provided for us. At some point we are sent out without provision, cloak, bag, or sandals (Luke 10:4).
Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves (Luke 10:3)
Our responsibilities and consequences for our mistakes and our omissions start to get more intense. As we make the effort to seek God and grow, more is asked of us (sorry).
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.to whom more is given, more will be expected. – Luke 12:48
Being sent out is a sign of GREAT FAVOR
At some point we realize that everything isn’t rainbows and sunshine any more. Now, the signs of His love are responsibility. The fact that He has entrusted a particular mission TO US!
This mission is our cross, but it is also the source of our joy! It is our way of following His footsteps – his footsteps all the way to Calvary and beyond.
He has sent us out.
Other questions about Spiritual Dryness and “growing up” in your faith
What Spiritual Dryness is NOT
Spiritual Dryness isn’t just NOT experiencing a prayer life in which we are in charge – where God does everything we ask of Him whenever we feel like it. Selfish prayer or prayer that attempts to control God or tell God how things “should be” is never rewarded. Read more on this type of prayer in How to Pray from the Heart.
I am calling out to Him and yet He does nothing! Why?
I feel like I am drowning. I have stepped out of the boat and I am calling out to Him to save me. Why does He not take my hand like he did Peter? Should I continue to trust?
- Are you sure you are really drowning? Sometimes we see the waves and we think we are drowning, but really we are only in up to our ankles or even our knees. He lifts us up only when we are ACTUALLY in OVER OUR HEAD!
- Did you truly believe that He would lift you up when you called out? God works great miracles only with great faith.
Your faith has saved you… – Luke 7:50, Mark 5:34 (and all the other examples and versions of this!)
Am I doing something wrong?? Does God not love me anymore?
The answer to this is probably NO. If you experience Spiritual Dryness it is because you feel THIRST. When someone is doing something “wrong”, they typically do not DESIRE God. They do not seek Him truly, thus, it is almost impossible for them to experience true spiritual dryness.
If you are feeling real spiritual dryness, you have most likely been sent out. You are most likely “growing up” in your faith. This is especially hard for those of us who have experienced a deeply personal, loving, and nurturing relationship with God in the past. But there is hope…
Most likely, you are just “growing up” – entering the next phase of your spiritual journey.
But, I thought we were supposed to be childlike always?
Yes, yes we are.
But, this does not mean we are called to always be children.
We are called to grow up and to go out, to invest our talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and cast out demons (Mark 16:17). The childlikeness comes into play when we continue to trust that He is there even when the water is stinging our eyes so that we cannot see. It means that we believe that all is well even when it feels like he is asleep in the boat (Matthew 8:24). It means that we continue to remember that no matter what it feels like, God has not abandoned us (Matthew 27:46).
So, if you are starting to feel less “feel good” in your prayer…
maybe you are doing something right. Maybe He has entrusted you with something great. Maybe He is watching you.
Are you making Him proud?
You do not know the day or the hour in which the master will return… – Parable of the Faithful Servant – Luke 12:35-48
Verses for practical encouragement if you are feeling abandoned by God
- Step out of the boat – overcoming the fear of being vulnerable with God
- When Life sucks – an invitation to love?
- Giving my all – is it worth it?