Sunday, May 4, 2008

Spiritual Doldrums - 5-4-08

DOLDRUMSliterally, this is a place in the ocean of calm and no wind. When sailors got caught in the doldrums, they were just there at the mercy of the current until the wind resumed.

- figuratively – this is a time of listlessness and despondency.

- spiritually – this is a time without the sense of God’s presence, God’s activity, and a time of being spiritually stagnant.


#1. Divine doldrums – God removes the sense of His presence and the immediate evidence of His activity.

Example: - Job. Job was going through all kinds of trials and he wasn’t hearing from God.

Isa. 50:10 – “Who among you fears the LORD …..? Let him who walks in the dark, …. trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.”

Sometimes God chooses to withdraw His presence or the sense of His presence.

Psalm 13:1 & 2 ”How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?.........”

David was a man after God’s own heart, but he went through times when God seemed to be gone.

#2. Situational or Circumstantial doldrums – life happens and is sometimes overwhelming.

Can come from: intense stress.

Intense pain (loss)

Clinical depression

Sometimes these things are beyond our control, and we can’t feel God’s presence or activity. HOWEVER, God is faithful whether we are or not.

#3. Self-induced or self-inflicted doldrums. These can be because of:

A. Unconfessed sin Isa. 59:1 & 2 –“……but your iniquities have separated you from your God; you sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will no hear.” There is an unwillingness to relinquish those sins.

B. General busyness. Good example: Mary and Martha. Martha was too busy to hear Jesus. Mary chose to listen to Him.

C. Lack of focus

D. Spiritual neglect.

Matt. 13:22 – “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of the wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”

NOTE: These doldrums are often the result of prosperity & good times.

Example: King Solomon – so blessed by God and then he turned away.

Israel after securing the Promised Land. They followed God closely as they went in and conquered it. After they were settled, and reaping the blessings God had promised, they turned away from Him. Book of Joshua, then book of Judges.

#4. Perceived or false doldrums – when you think or feel or assume that God is not present, active, or moving in your life

Examples: Elijah – I Kings 19:9 & 10, 18 – “…...I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (18) Yet I reserved seven thousand in Israel – all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal…..”

Disciples – during the 3 days between the crucifixion and the Resurrection

Solomon – during writing of Ecclesiastes – “This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

We are very feeling oriented. If we don’t feel like God is present or moving, then we ASSUME that He’s not!

NOTE: doldrums are usually a combination of the above 4 types.

QUESTION: Does it matter which kind or what’s the source?

ANSWER: Yes! Because:

A. like a ship, we are not designed to sit still in the water, but to move forward (go & do)

And B. unlike a ship – we may be able to DO something about the doldrums.

So: I. How to determine which kind or source.

#1. Examine yourself and the situation.

Take time, get still, open the Word, ask God, be honest!!!!

#2. Consult with others. Meaning other Christians who are objective, discerning, have some wisdom, knowledge, experience, etc. Don’t consult with others who feel the same way you do.

II. What to do? How should I respond and react to the doldrums I’m in???

If: A. Divine doldrums. Pray for wind, WAIT for the wind (the wind WILL come), keep the ship ready and the sail raised.

Example: the disciples between the Ascension and Pentecost – Luke 24: 48 & 49 – they were told to wait in Jeruselem until filled with power from on high. They didn’t know HOW long this would be – just told to wait!

Isa. 50:10 – “Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.”

If: B. Situational or circumstantial doldrums – do the same as above. BUT, don’t despair!

This IS part of life’s experiences. Things WILL change and get better. “This too shall pass.”

On the one hand tough situations can lead to the doldrums.

On the other hand tough situations can lead to a heightened sensitivity and awareness of God. Good example – Jeremiah

Rom. 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, ….”

Phil. 4:11 – “…..for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

If: C. Self-induced or self-inflicted doldrums. Admit it and Deal with it!!!!

Unconfessed sin? Need to make time? Refocus? Give more attention to spiritual things? Just do it!

go and I will go with you” – means YOU take the 1st. steps.

If: D. perceived or false doldrums. Admit, confess, ignore, move on.


1. If you are a Christian – you are going to experience spiritual doldrums.

2. Sometimes these are beyond your control.. Which doesn’t mean you must succumb to them completely by being inactive or being despondent.

3. Sometimes they are your own fault and awaiting your own remedy!

4. Either way, it is never God’s intent that we despair, give up, lose hope, or abandon ship.

Psalm 42: 1-5/9-11- “….my soul thirsts for God, for the living God. …….. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God….

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