We have all had those times. Times when we were discouraged because of who knows what. Times when we felt like our lives were a disaster. Times when we didn’t feel close to God. And those times are challenging. We feel threatened with everything that is going on around us and we feel like giving up.
Even when these times of dryness and discouragement try to pull us down, there is so much possibility for growth. These days of suffering are there to purify us, make us more grateful, and bring us back to the right path of God.
I like to think of this as an analogy; imagine you have been working tirelessly to reach a goal. You have been working towards this one goal for years. There are days when you are tired and sick of this goal. And then there are days when all you can think of is how much you can’t wait to see its faithful completion. The whole journey to the end of this goal is a bit of a roller coaster. There are mountains and valleys. But through everything, you know that your determination is the key to success.
So you don’t give up.
This is also how our spiritual life must be. We will experience spiritual ‘highs’ and we will experience dry spells. But through it all, we all know that our persistence is the key to living a fulfilling life of faith with our Lord. We understand the reward, so you keep up the good fight.
In case you are going through a dry period right now, here are some practical tips for staying in touch with your faith, even when it is hard. Even if you aren’t currently struggling with this, I hope you enjoy reading these tips. Enjoy!!
#1. Be Open to Change
Sometimes, during periods of dryness, Christ is just trying to help us better understand His plans for us. And those plans might not be what we thought they would be. He might be calling us to a major (or minor) change.
What’s awesome about these changes is that they might just bring an end to the restlessness that we are feeling. Conformity to God’s will is a wonderful step in the direction of a better relationship with God and a life of peace in His promises.
#2. Strive to Grow Closer to God, Not to Ignore Him
When we are confused or annoyed, it is super easy to shut down. Shut our Bibles, YouTube hop instead of spend time in silence, stop praying or listening, and the like. However, times of tribulation should give us all the more reason to hunker down and pray even harder.
St. Francis de Sales once said that all lay people should pray for 30 minutes a day and for 60 minutes if they are busy. This same idea can be put to practice through our struggles. If we feel like praying, pray for a half hour. If we don’t, pray for an hour.
#3. Seek Strength From the Word of God
This is probably one of my favorites. For me, when it is hard to pray, I usually find it easier to read the Bible. The Bible is packed with wonderful nuggets of knowledge, simply waiting for us to read. As someone who LOVES the Psalms (which I know is not normal. ha.) I love to slip through and find one that I have over highlighted and get encouragement from the words.
St. Paul, in the New Testament, speaks constantly about the building up of the people and the power of God to heal and restore. I strongly encourage you to take notes and underline important verses in your bible. Doing this will make looking up moving passages much easier when you need them.
#4. Lean on Those Who Love You
Don’t hide away. Talk to your parish priest about your struggles. Ask him for suggestions. By far, our priests are the most equip to help us through dry times because they minister to hundreds of people every week and have learned much from their work.
Confide in a good friend. Ask her for prayers, ask her questions, seek counsel. Aside from you feeling better, this type of trust in your fellow women creates inseparable friendships. As your sisters encounter difficulty like your own, you will be able to help them in just the same way.
#5. Look to the Examples of the Saints
Like just about anything in the spiritual life, the saints are such wonderful constants in our lives. They have been through it all, and still came out ‘on top’. As far as hard times of faith, some of the greatest saints had the greatest struggles with desolation and loneliness. Holy men and women such as St. Teresa, St. John of the Cross, St. Gemma Galgana, and many others spent 10, 20, even 30 years of their lives in complete darkness.
We can all have ‘dark nights’ as well. However, through our perseverance and hope for the future, we will get through these times just as our models of faith have.
I pray that this post brings you encouragement. But above all, my friends, always know that Christ will be will you through all of your struggles, no matter how big or small. Find rest in this truth of our Loving God!!!