Ignatius of Loyola wrote, “In times of dryness and desolation we must be patient . . . putting our trust in the goodness of God. We must animate ourselves by the thought that God is always with us, that He only allows this trial for our greater good, and that we have not necessarily lost His grace because we have lost the taste and feeling of it.”
Those words of wise counsel reflect the reality that every Christian experiences times of spiritual dryness. It is a subjective feeling that God is distant, aloof and even absent. During a time of spiritual dryness, prayers feel empty, hymns are sung without energy, sermons are lifeless and Scripture appears to have no power over daily life. Often called the “dark night of the soul,” it is a time when the absence of God’s presence is greatly and painfully felt.
Even individuals in Scripture experienced moments when clouds of darkness descended on the spirit or God seemed hidden and uncaring. On one occasion Moses shouted at God: “If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now” (Nm 11:15). Similarly, Elijah found himself so discouraged and frustrated that he prayed: “I have had enough, Lord. . . . Take my life.”
And the Psalmist lamented, “Why have you rejected us forever, O God? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?” (Ps 74:1). Although dark, dry times do come, the good news is that by taking some simple steps you can bring a time of spiritual dryness to a speedier end. Here are a dozen ways to get out of a spiritual rut.1. Shed an old skin. God may have a design for you that is even better than the life you have been living. A time of darkness may be His signal that you have reached the end of one stage in your life. Be flexible enough to turn over a new page and start the next chapter.
2. See the good, expect the best. Your mind is a powerful tool. Don’t waste it brooding over what you don’t have, aren’t experiencing, didn’t receive. That kind of negative thinking will only leave you feeling more discouraged, depressed and dissatisfied. A healthier approach is to see the good and expect the best.
Apply to your experience the promise of God spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ ” (Jer 29:11).