A Languishing Spirit
By Amanda Idleman
“David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.” - 1 Samuel 30:6
In our post-pandemic world, many of us find ourselves stuck. We aren’t depressed, but we aren’t flourishing either. Languishing, as defined by psychologists, is a sense of apathy and lack of purpose and direction. It is not a vacuum or psychological downturn but the necessary “fallow space” interval we need to rest within ourselves before we plow, seed, and harvest new crops in our lives. It is also described as a sense of stagnation or emptiness.
Sometimes being stuck in the middle can be the hardest place to move from. It’s important to remember that we serve a God who came so we could have an abundant life (John 10:10). We were not designed to be stuck just getting by. We were created to create! God designed us to live joyfully and with purpose! We have all faced loss, crisis, fear, disappointments, and unexpected changes over the past several years. Sadly, we have all lost something as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent aftermath.
There is a character from the Bible that also faced terror, great loss, and uncertainty; his name was David. In 1 Samuel 30, David and his army of men were on the run from Saul. When he and his men returned home, they found that their families had been carried off by their enemies. They wept until they had no more strength to weep (v.4). David could have found him stuck in a place of apathy and unending grief, but he knew that his men were counting on him. God gives him the strength to continue to lead his men forward with grace and wisdom. We can learn from his response and apply them to our own lives to gain some forward motion despite trying circumstances.
David Found Strength in God’s Presence
1 Samuel 30:6 says, “David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.”
David was not only grappling with his own personal grief but saw the potential betrayal of his men. His circumstances were bleak! When he found himself in a scary predicament, He paused and spent time in the presence of the Lord. He knew that even when his flesh and his heart failed, God was the strength of his heart and his portion forever (Psalm 73:26).
We can find supernatural encouragement in the presence of God. Somehow a moment of prayer and worship can shift our eyes from being focused on what feels impossible to us to seeing the endless power we have through Christ. If you find yourself unable to envision a thriving life, then it’s time to spend time in a place of worship. Don’t neglect creating space to be with the Lord. He gives young men dreams and old men visions (Acts 2:17). This just means that God inspires us!
David was Encouraged By God’s People
1 Samuel 30:7-8 says, “ Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them? “Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”
David went to the priest and then to the Lord. To find wisdom, we need the input of other believers as well as the wisdom God gives through answered prayer. If you are struggling under the weight of loneliness and isolation, I encourage you to make a point to find a church community. We are made to do life together. As imperfect as the church can be, it is the place where we are able to find renewed purpose through community and service.
David Knew the Voice of the Lord
In 1 Samuel 30:8, God answers David’s question. David has immediate clarity for his difficult situation because he knew the voice of the Lord.
Do you know what God’s voice sounds like in your life? It’s hard to find purpose, joy, and passion when we are living chaotic lives! It's tempting to follow every new fad, set of advice, or trend. It’s important to care about what is going on in our world but we can start to drown if we are moved by everything that is put in front of our faces. We need to hear from the Lord to find a place to passionately move forward.
David was able to be confident in a scary moment because he knew the voice of his Father.
Intersecting Faith and Life
If you are stuck and feel unable to move forward in your life, focus on the one right next step you can take to move forward. Don’t let overanalysis of what “could be” or what “has been” paralyze you. Just take one tiny step forward at a time and see the Lord begin to move on your behalf.
- 1 Samuel 30
- 4 Biblical Cures for a Languishing Spirit
- There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing
Photo credit: Raychan/Unsplash
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.
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