Summary: If you get into the spiritual lows, among the things you should not do is get angry and play the blaming game. Another thing you should not do is get comfortable with it.
I don’t feel in touch with God anymore. I have to drag myself and my family to worship. We have been coming less and less. I feel apathetic about my Lord. I rarely pray. I hardly ever read my Bible or anything else that might stimulate my spirituality. I always seem to be unhappy with the church, my brethren, the elders, the preacher, the deacons, and even with myself. I have begun to invest myself socially and emotionally in things that give me the illusion of filling that ever growing void in my life!
Does any of this sound familiar? Can you identify with any of this? It’s what often happens to us over a period of time in our walk with God. We either seem to lose our spirituality, or fail in our struggle to take hold of it. Are we left to despair? Are we losing ground with God?
First of all, let me begin with a word of encouragement. It is not “wrong” or “sinful” when you begin to feel this way. Just as no one can live on an emotional high 24 hours a day (without needed some sort of psychiatric treatment), no one stays an the spiritual mountaintop 24-7. Like it or not, our spiritual life is full of peaks and valleys. The key to spiritual health has to do with what you do while you are in the valley.
Have you been all the way to the bottom of the valley before? Maybe you are there right now. What should you do?
After all, it is most likely not your fault you’ve slid all the way to the bottom of this canyon. Someone has been pushing you around, so it is surely their fault. Think about it, you have every right to be angry. People may think that you have a problem, but you know that it is their problem. They should be the ones to pull you out of the canyon, it’s not your fault you slid way down to the bottom.
There are several blamers in the Bible. Do you remember any of them? There are some of the more well known ones such as Adam. Remember the story? When God had asked him if he had eaten from the forbidden tree, he blamed Even for giving it to him. Then when God confronted Eve, she blamed it on the serpent, and the buck stopped there. Then there was Job. Remember him? He was about as low as you could get in the bottom of the valley. It had to be someone’s fault since he didn’t deserve any of what came on him. So he blamed God.
Let’s focus on another blamer, one that is probably not as well known to many of us.
(Genesis 16:1) – “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, "Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife.”
Now God had previously promised Abraham more than once that he would have a son. As a matter in fact, he made a covenant with Abraham in chapter 15 to bind himself to this promise. He wanted Abraham to trust that he would keep his promise. But years went by, and nothing happened. Abraham and Sarai are old enough to be great-great grandparents, and no children! Now if you are not familiar with the culture, to not have children is a slam on a woman’s self worth. Part of being a wife meant bearing children. So Sarai is feeling pretty low. So what does Sarai do? It surely is not her fault she has no children, so she blames God for it.
Then she comes up with a plan. She was going to have a child one way or another. She had a female slave, Hagar, who could still have children. Why not use her slave as sort of a surrogate mother? She owned this slave, so she could have a child by her. She gives Hagar to Abraham, and Hagar conceives. At last! A child! She feels like she is finally soaring above the valley all the way to the mountain top where she belongs. Not even God can keep her in the valley!
But notice how her plan begins to unravel even before it unfolds:
Gen 16:4 - He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight.