I hate to break it to you, but it’s inevitable. Difficult and sometimes seemingly impossible spiritual seasons are going to come around, whether you’re mad, confused, frustrated, grieving, feeling distant, feeling disconnected, or mental health is blocking you from reaching God. Hint: I’ve experienced all of these types of seasons.
I’m writing this from a fairly good season where I’m eager to engage with God and tag-team this summer together. I have some questions I’d really appreciate answers to (*cough*), but mostly it’s smooth sailing. But I know it won’t always be, and I can’t plan how long the sailing will remain smooth, so that’s why this list is so vital. For those of you in a difficult spiritual season right now, know that I’ve had plenty of turmoil within the past 10 months and it seemed pretty bleak at the time, but I’ve come out on the other side, and you will too.
- Dig into Scripture consistently/have verses at the ready
Yes, we all know this one should be a given, but I think a lot of us (I’m already raising my hand) don’t crack open the Word nearly as much as we should. This doesn’t mean you have to scarf down 50 pages in one sitting, take one verse at a time if you’d rather! This is about fitting in truth into whatever little crevice of the day works for you, because we are fed the world’s lies on a daily basis and it constantly weighs on us either directly or subconsciously.
Whether the verses you read end up being applicable or not to whatever your next difficult season entails, I don’t believe that entirely matters. Oftentimes I’m so desperate in my difficult season that verbally or mentally speaking any kind of truth (a.k.a. any verse in the Bible) gives me a pinprick of hope that I’ll make it through. But also, you can never go wrong with the truth within the Gospels, Psalms, or one of the letters in the New Testament, like Philippians. My personal favorites to calm me down are Philippians, James, Psalm 139, and Hebrews 12:1-2.
These verses are love for you, they are your sword, they have been provided for you to stab the darkness when it lashes out at you, so grab the pages and start soaking them in.
- Confide in an honest community
Make sure you are a part of some kind of group that is comprised of faithful people who feel comfortable sharing their trials and victories with one another. Community is essential for Christians, and these people will be able to support you in your difficult seasons through prayer and reminders of God’s goodness, according to their unique perspectives.
The great thing about difficult seasons is that we don’t all experience them simultaneously. The great thing about sin is that no sin is isolated; someone else will understand what you’re going through in some capacity. Put these two facts together and the darkness begins crumbling.
Make no mistake, young people are incredible, and as 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” However, being able to talk to people older than you with more experience is always comforting, if you want to obtain a larger perspective on things.
Everyone knows how important prayer is to faith, but more specifically, I think physically documenting prayer in some way is really beneficial for difficult seasons. I like to keep a prayer journal whenever I have time, because later when the going gets tough (or I’m just curious), I can look back and see how God has provided and answered prayers.
What does that ultimately mean for your difficult season? That God is faithful. That God sticks to his promises—he will provide for you, in one way or another, even if that means the afterlife. I mean, what better provision could you have than Heaven? I’d say we’re pretty well looked after, even when the evil of this world temporarily holds us within its grasp. I think it’s pretty clear who’s going to win the fight, so bask in the promises and the conversation God has maintained with you through your prayers.
It’s pretty comforting to dwell upon what God has carried you through in the past, because it just assures you he’ll carry you through the uncertainty and funky feelings once more.
- Have those go-to people
Maybe it’s a YouTuber, a podcast, a musician, a writer… it always helps to have faithful entertainers in your life whose words are ready and waiting for you to easily find again when the darkness returns. Pick those wordsmiths who you know will restore hope in your soul, because that’s really what these difficult seasons are about… hope in relation to faith, and a lack thereof. God is constant. God is always who he says he is. God is always good and faithful to his promises and his people. You need as many voices as you can who will remind you of that.
- Put together a hopeful playlist
Along that same vein, this point is kind of what spurred me to write this blog. My favorite way to prepare for hard seasons is through music and compiling either a physical online playlist or a soul-list you can easily pull out when it’s pretty hard to see anything good about your faith or your life. I believe the entertainment we intake, especially as Christians, is life-shaping, and our duty is to locate messages that bring us closer to our faith.
That doesn’t mean explicitly Christian music (although it can), but words that help you feel less alone in your anger or frustration or confusion, words that make you feel less crazy for feeling what you do, words that encourage you and remind you it will get better again, just hold on.
This summer I have been considering starting a radio station when I return for my last year of college, called Annah’s Anxiety Tunes. I want to provide songs of hope for listeners to store up for hard seasons, whether mentally or in general, because I know how desperately I seek that. Regardless of whether or not it ends up happening, storing up hopeful songs is something I will actively continue to do and share with loved ones.
These are the primary weapons you need to poke a beaming yellow happy face in that blanket of black. God is on your side. He will not let you go. You matter. You are valuable. God has not forgotten you.