One thing that happens to all Christians is that moment where we think, "I can't feel God in my life anymore." We've been experiencing many spiritual highs, as things have been going good, but when things begin to go wrong we wonder where He's gone. This happened to me recently, after I've been praying for revival and really trying to strengthen my relationship with Christ. I must say I found myself so weary and depressed. A part of me didn't even feel like talking to God anymore. I wanted to feel good again, to feel all of that glory hallelujah bursting inside of me. Instead, I just felt extremely unhappy and very far away from God. I determined it in my heart to keep praying, although there was a part of me that really didn't want to. I also kept reading my Bible, although nothing sounded appealing. Nothing bad was really happening in my life, mind you. I was just having a bad day. My mood was sour and everything seemed to be going wrong. Thankfully, God revealed something to me in a few verses that I had underlined in my Bible from a previous sermon I heard; verses that I have never understood until now. Strangely it's all so clear. I'd like to share them and explain them a little more in depth.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit.
Rejoice evermore. That is a pretty absolute statement. It doesn't say rejoice when we feel like it or only rejoice on Tuesday's. It says to rejoice all of the time, every time, always, and forever. While it is easy to rejoice in God when things in life are going well, it seems that the valleys in life make it ten times harder. Nothing goes right and I just don't feel like rejoicing. However, our faith is not determined by our circumstances or feelings. It is determined by the simple facts that we believe in: God loves us, He has promised to never leave or forsake us, we are saved by the blood, and that salvation is eternal. Our feelings are conditional, constantly changing and there is always something out there trying to break us down. We should stand and rejoice in the fact that God is unconditional and His love is never changing.
Pray without ceasing. The Bible says to bring our requests to God, but it never says how many times. I believe that God wants us to pray multiple times, until we get some kind of an answer. Don't stop praying for what you need, even if you're frustrated because you feel like He's not listening. He is definitely listening and He will not get annoyed because you ring Him up too many times. Just know that God sees the bigger picture and although we think He needs to answer a prayer in this or that way, God has a bigger plan. & He delights in our coming to Him.
In every thing give thanks. This is another absolute statement. It doesn't say to give thanks in all good things or anything like that. It says in every thing. Obviously not every day is good, not every circumstance is good, etc. Yet, the Bible still asks us to give thanks. This verse goes on to say this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. This is something God asks us to do. It's really hard to find what we're thankful for when things seem to go wrong, but it puts things in a positive perspective. It also brings our focus back on God, who is the giver of all things. (Little tip: I will sometimes make a little list of what I am thankful for to lay it out for myself. It's undeniable - it could always be worse than it is right now.)
Quench not the Spirit. This was always something I didn't understand. I had heard preachers talk about quenching of the Spirit, but I had no idea why it was just randomly laying in the Bible amongst these other verses. However, yesterday God was definitely talking to me through this verse and it was very clear. Quenching the Spirit is when we hinder the work God is trying to do through us. When we get weary and nothing seems right, it is much harder to continue a prayer and study life. Honestly, it can be the last thing I want to do. However, these other verses have already said to keep rejoicing, keep praying, and to keep giving thanks. They say it for a reason and I don't believe you can say these verses are open to interpretation. If we stop being obedient to God, give up, and stop praying, we're giving place to the devil. We're letting the entire situation defeat us and stand right in the middle of our relationship with God. We're quenching God's Spirit in our lives. That's the last place I want to be.
One thing I didn't think about while praying for revival is that I am going to have bad days. Just because I am a Christian does not guarantee an easy life, if anything it's harder (Read about Paul, that's my man!). Yet it seems that only when it is easy is when I want to walk with God and do what He asks of me. All of these things listed in that verse are extremely easy when things are going my way. However, just as God is the same yesterday, today, and forever - so should our faith be. Our faith should grow and mature, but we should always trust in Him despite what may be going wrong in our lives. When we start dwelling on our situations and allow it to affect us to the point where we aren't praying or praising anymore, our relationship with God begins to fall apart. The best advice I can give myself, who I know will go through this a million times (I am one of those people who are prone to get depressed and defeated easily), and others who will experience is to just keep on keepin' on. Keep rejoicing, keep praying, keep thanking, and keep allowing Him to do His work. Maintain a good study life and prayer life daily and put your trust in God. Depend on God in full surrender, because without Him we're weak. This is all easier said than done and it may be the last thing we want to do when we're in a valley. However, I do believe that in remaining obedient we will receive a blessing.
"Praise is not a feeling but a choice, a step of obedience taken without the assurance of a changed circumstance or the elimination of a trial." - Mary Southerland, Girlfriends in God
"When we win, we'll praise Him. When we lose, we'll praise Him." - Alex Kendrick, Facing The Giants
"The God of the mountain is the God of the valley."
"Rest in God's power, so we don't have to struggle in our own." - A little note from Kathy in my Bible, which was from a sermon preached by Bro. Waters in '04 (obviously a long time before I came there!)