As 2018 started, I found myself staring into with some dread… after a two month break from social media and blogging, the fun and festivities of the holidays, and a week serving refugees in Greece, the new year was a blank slate in front of me, and I didn’t know how to fill it. There seemed to be no direction, no purpose, nothing to pursue.
I became afraid this year would be just like the last. Don’t get me wrong, last year was good. Very, very good.
But along with the good, I want growth, and with the year barely started, I already felt stuck and defeated.
Maybe you can relate to feeling stuck. Things are good, but there doesn’t seem to be any growth, and you want something more, something new. Maybe you made those resolutions to get unstuck, but it’s proving to be trickier (and stickier) than you thought, and you’re feeling a bit defeated.
In Joshua 1, the Israelites have come to the end of 40 years of wandering in the desert, and are about to enter into the promised land. They are about to embark onto something new, entering the promised land and going from living as nomads to fighting as warriors.
Even though during those 40 years the Israelites probably felt stuck in sameness (in fact, they even complained of having to eat the same thing day after day), much of that sameness was really a blessing from God, His provision to His people. Throughout those years, God was revealing Himself and shaping a heart of obedience in His people.
Even in your seasons of stuck-ness, God is providing for you, revealing Himself to you, and shaping Christ-like character in you. We just don’t always see it. I encourage you, don’t be like the Israelites and complain about your situation; instead, thank and praise God, continuing to seek His heart and will in the midst of your situation.
While the Israelites were made to wander in the desert due to their disobedience, your feeling stuck may not necessarily be due to sin. Just because God seems distant, just because you’re unsure of the next step to take, just because you’re going through some hard stuff, doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong.
As you seek God, His Spirit will convict you of sin and of things in your life that need changing. And as you submit to God, His Spirit will cleanse you of sin and empower you to make the needed changes.
So don’t beat yourself up and live in shame and blame. Just keep following Jesus.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
And Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
As we live in love relationship with God, seeking His Kingdom and following His will, we can know that He is working for our good and weaving beauty through our lives.
So how can we live in the beauty, grow in our faith, and not give into the feelings of defeat, even when we’re feeling stuck?
Engage in spiritual disciplines
Prayer, reading the Bible, being part of the Body of Christ are spiritual disciplines we are called to make a part of our lives, no matter what season we’re in. These grow and strengthen our faith. They equip and empower us to do God’s will. They reveal to us what God’s will is and His character.
Give praise and thanks
When we feel stuck, it can be easy for our focus to be on the negative; on what we wish was different or on what we think is missing. And it can be easy to give into complaining and bitterness. But praise and thanksgiving lifts our eyes to God and focuses them on His goodness and love, and we see the many blessings He has given and the many ways He is working in us.
Do what you know to do
When we feel stuck, it can also be easy to do nothing… to kind of check out. But God has a purpose for you right here, right now. I don’t know what it is, but He does.
What gifts and talents and passions do you have that you can use to be a part of His Kingdom work?
Serve and encourage others
Serving and encouraging others shares the love of Jesus, gives us purpose, and keeps us from being isolated even when it seems like everyone else is moving forward in their lives. Again, what gifts, talents, and passions do you have that you can use to be a blessing to someone else, even in a seemingly small way?
Cultivate Christ-like character
Often, we want a change in circumstances. We want to get unstuck as fast as possible. But even in circumstances that are out of our control, that are less-than-perfect, that are hard and messy and scary, God can shape our character to be more Christ-like. Be intentional in cultivating characteristics that are godly and reflect Jesus. Don’t let the time go to waste. Don’t get so caught up in lamenting where you’re at and wishing things were different that you miss opportunities for God to grow you more into the woman He created you to be.
Step out in faith
Sometimes staying stuck can feel more safe and comfortable than stepping in the new and the unknown.
The first time the Israelites came to the Promised Land, they let the fear of men hold them back from being obedient to God and didn’t enter. 40 years later, when a new generation had the opportunity to enter the Promised Land, they said, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.” (Joshua 1:16)
This is the attitude we need to have, one of obedience, stepping out in faith wherever God leads.
God was faithful to lead His people, even in their wandering. And as you seek Him, persevering when you feel stuck, you can trust that God is leading, that God is listening, and that God is always, always loving.