Summary: Everyone faces times of spiritual difficulty and disillusionment. When we do, we need to realize that God is always faithful and will stay with us through even the toughest times.
A couple of weeks ago my wife Pam and I had the chance to travel with the Jr. High/High School bands to NKU for a band festival. After the morning festival, the entire group went to Kings Island to spend the rest of the day. Now band festivals are okay, but for us, the big draw of the trip was the chance to go to Kings Island. Pam and I both love Kings Island. When we were in college in Cincinnati, we scrimped and saved our money and bought season passes to the park. But we got to thinking and it had been 12 years since we had been together.
After the festival all the kids were keyed up about going to the park, and so were we. I already knew where I wanted to start. I went with the church youth group last year, and I found a roller coaster I loved, Face Off. We went into the gate and made a “bee line” for the line. It was kind of long, but I knew it would be worth it. Within 5 minutes of getting into line an announcement came over that the ride was going to be temporarily shut down. They said we could either leave or hang around and it would be fixed shortly. What had looked like it was going to be a long wait got shorter as a quarter of the people left. It wasn’t long before the ride resumed operation.
We wound our way up to the front of the line. When we got near the boarding point, I talked Pam into riding in the front car which was an extra 2 or 3 waits, but it was worth it for the added thrill. With one pair of people in front of us they came over the speaker and announced another temporary shut-down. We weren’t too concerned, we had been here before and at this point there was no turning back. We got more concerned as we watched the people in the operator’s booth. First one mechanic, then another, then a guy who looked more managerial, and finally a guy in a tie came to the booth. It didn’t look good. One hour and 46 minutes after getting in line, they came over the speaker and announced that the ride was going to be shut down indefinitely. Not only were we going to have to give up our hope of riding “Face Off,” but now we were last in line to get out of the ride.
To be quite honest, that kind of took the wind out of our sails for the Kings Island trip. After that we noticed the weather was bad, cold and windy. We were each assigned a post at the center of the park for 1 hour, so that cut 2 hours out of our already limited park time. What we had anticipated being like our college trips to the theme park wound up being not nearly as exciting. We started singing the blues.
As I looked at the passage for this week’s message, I couldn’t help but think about that trip. Psalm 42 is a lament. You might say it’s a sad song, a down in the dumps kind of prayer where the Sons of Korah sing the blues about things not turning out quite the way they anticipated. I’m going to read this Psalm, but I want you to notice the way it is written. Not only is the Psalm directed to God, a prayer, but there are several places where the Psalmist talks to himself. (Do you ever do that? Sure you do, everyone does). I think we are going to notice some important techniques for overcoming the blah’s in our spiritual life when things don’t seem like they should.
(Read Psalm 42:1-11)
Did you hear the disillusionment in the words? The Psalmist is struggling because things didn’t work out the way it seemed they should. At one time life was great, he was leading the worship services in the house of God. Lately though things haven’t been so good. He says, “My tears have been my food.” He feels rejected and neglected by God. He’s wondering why he is so downcast, but he still is and he can’t help it. I want us to talk about those times this morning, so that we don’t get stuck in them too long. God can use even those difficult dry times to draw us closer to Him. Let’s notice 3 ways to get out of them.
1. Realize That Everybody Suffers from the Spiritual Blahs.
You know, there are some Christian people that you meet that seem like they just have it all together. They never seem down, they almost always seem to walk about 3 inches off the ground. Over the years I’ve had the chance to talk to some of those people “off the record,” in good times and bad, and you know what I’ve found out? They have spiritually dry times, times when their heart is cold to spiritual things, when they have felt completely empty inside. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt as if your prayers were only lip service, and that the words you lifted up to God only bounced off the ceiling? Have you ever just gone through the motions of going to church and reading the Bible, but it seemed like wasted time? I have. It’s no fun! But, it is part of everybody’s Christian life. If you’ve struggled, you are in the company of John the Baptist, Elijah, and King David who all struggled with down times.