Spiritual ups and downs are a seemingly unavoidable part of the Christian’s life. If you’re anything like me it goes like this: a two-week spiritual high followed by a crash, followed by feelings of remorse, self-disgust and disappointment. Along comes a great experience or inspiring sermon, then a bout of spiritual growth, another high, then a crash. Repeat ad nauseam.
Hopefully this will change as we grow more and more to be more like Jesus. But in the meantime we can remember this:
God said to Abraham that he would bless him and give him a son through his elderly wife Sarai, but then Abraham doubted God’s promise and went and slept with his wife’s slave girl Hagar to get himself a son.
God took Israel by the hand out of Egypt and told them they would inherit a great land full of milk and honey. Israel got cold feet in the desert, stopped believing God could do as he promised, and insisted on going back to Egypt.
God told David how he would be the father of an everlasting king. Then David took this privilege and rubbed it in the dust, he slept with someone else’s wife and had the man murdered.
God told a sinful Israel even as the people were being driven away to exile that things would change, that something greater than an earthly power would come and rescue God’s people. Some of them believed; most of them didn’t and either forgot about God or clung more vainly still to the glory days of David and Solomon.
Jesus told Peter that he would be the bedrock of the church someday. Then Peter forgot about that promise and in a moment of cowardice he told Herod’s men he had never even heard of the name Jesus.
But God gave Abraham a son and many millions who now call him Father. God brought Israel’s children (minus their mistrusting parents) into a land of milk and honey, and slew before their very eyes the same giants who had so terrified their parents. God made David, an adulterer and murderer, a father of King Jesus. God brought his exiled people back to Jerusalem and as he promised, brought before them King Jesus to deliver them from oppression once and for all. And Jesus made the cowardly liar Peter a rock of the church.
This isn’t about finding out what promises God has made us or what exactly are his plans to prosper us. In the depths of defeat and despair, it will seem that no promise could give us comfort. But as spiritual descendants of Israel we are heirs of the same undying chesed and faithfulness that God promised on oath to Abraham, and even to Adam.
When we feel strong, God is strong. When we are weak, God is still strong. When we are faithful, God is faithful. When we are faithless, God is still faithful to his promise to see his people through.
It’s not much of a solution or sometimes even a consolation to our spiritual crashes, but it is always true. God is always strong for us, and our sins and doubts will not make him any less strong for us.