Last week I wrote about the certainty of having ups and downs in life. Now I'd like to focus on what we can do when we're feeling down. I've noticed that at certain times, everything in life feels very difficult. It is often a sign that I need to rest or wait until the next day to keep working. In this down state, it can take me an hour to do what I'm able to do in five minutes when I'm feeling good. Making any kind of decision is an enormous effort. It feels like walking through three feet of mud. So what can we do when we hit these down moments in life?
Joshua 3:14-16a gives us a clue: "So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing."
What would it look like to walk up to the water's edge by faith? Step one is to acknowledge what you are feeling. You might feel pressure to pretend to be in a good mood. Don't. Naming how you actually feel is a big step in the right direction. Joshua had to acknowledge the flood stage river he needed to cross. It wouldn't help to try to pretend it wasn't there. Next, you can take some practical steps. Is this the result of just being tired? If so, seeking some rest is a great idea. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is to take a nap. Or is it something more? If you have been down for an extended period of time (several months or more), you definitely need to seek out professional help, just as you would if you noticed a pain in your knee that didn't go away but continued to get worse. However, most likely, what you are dealing with is a temporary feeling. So what can you learn from the passage above?
You can step out in faith. Step towards that flooded river with no assurance that anything is going to change and then see what happens. Pray for the Spirit to guide you. What might that step look like? It could be many things. If you recognize this a long-term problem, it would be getting professional help. That is a big step of faith. It could be reaching out to a friend. It could be deciding to exercise. It could be taking some time in prayer. It could be listening to your favorite music. It could be doing the dishes or cleaning up your place. Many times when you feel down and stuck, taking that first step can make all the difference.
I would invite you this week to step out in faith. Especially when you are feeling down. Try something new. Trust the Spirit to lead you. Trust that when your foot hits the water, it will begin to part. Sometimes we are feeling down simply because we are stuck. We aren't moving anywhere. Taking that first step could let some new light in. It could boost your spirits. You won't know unless you try it.
May you walk through your down times by faith this week.