"And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son [Jesus]. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."1
A Daily Encounter reader writes: "I have received Jesus as my Savior but after many years I feel like I am just going through the motions. I feel dead spiritually. I have great difficulty reading and understanding the Bible and can't seem to pray. I feel like I'm in the middle of a thick sludge pool and can't get out. Do other Christians feel this way? Will I go to heaven if Jesus comes back and I'm in this state? Is our salvation dependent only on our trust in Christ as our Savior—regardless of how we feel?"
"Dear Isabel," (name changed), I wrote, "let me assure you that you are not alone in your struggle. Most Christians, including myself, and many of the great heroes of faith, go through what has been called a 'dark night of the soul' when God seems far away and all seems hopeless. Nor will you miss out on heaven because of the spiritual blahs.
"There can be many reasons for the 'spiritual blahs.' If one is under considerable stress at home or on the job for too long, has been physically ill for some time, has a chemical imbalance, or is generally bored with his work or life—any of these can cause relationships (including our relationship with God) to feel blah and distant. Also, if one is acting out in self-defeating ways or has unconfessed sin in his life—these too can cause a person to feel far from God.
"Super-charged repressed negative emotions are also a very common cause for barriers to come between ourselves, others, and God. These are usually caused by impaired relationships from the past—anywhere from early childhood to yesterday. The walls we build to block out our feelings of hurt, fear, and/or anger so we won't have to face them also block out our warm, loving and positive feelings. Doing this can also be very damaging to our physical health. This is why the Bible teaches us to resolve all negative emotions and impaired relationships as quickly as possible.
"I would suggest that you have a thorough medical examination to make sure you don't have a physical problem that needs attention or medication. If you are under considerable stress, see if there are some things you can change or drop altogether. I also suggest that you see a qualified Christian counselor and share with him or her exactly what you have shared with me so he or she can help you resolve your struggle. All of us need help at times like these.
"And even if you don't feel like it, pray and tell God exactly how you feel. Ask him to help you discover the cause/s of your 'spiritual blahs' and to lead you to the help you need to overcome.
"Let me again assure you that if you have prayed and invited Jesus into your heart and life, no matter how you feel, remember that Jesus said, 'I will never, never, never, never, never leave you or forsake you.'2 This is when you need to take God at his Word and not allow your feelings to control you."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you have promised to always be with me no matter what. About my blahs I experience, please help me to see the cause of these and lead me to the help I need to overcome them so I can again feel close to you and the ones I love the most. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
For further help read, "How to Be Sure You're a real Christian Without Having to Be Religious" at: http://tinyurl.com/real-christian.
1. 1 John 5:11-13 (NIV).
2. Hebrews 13:5 (Paraphrase).