November 27, 2007
A couple Sundays ago, our pastor preached about times of spiritual dryness. Below are my notes from his sermon (from Psalm 42):
The Symptoms of Spiritual Drought (vv. 1-3, 9-10)
1. Deep longing for God’s presence (vv. 1-2)
2. Depression (v. 3a)
3. Oppression & doubt (vv. 3b, 9-10)
– The old voice of self: discouragement, deception, & lies. It taunts & bullies us.
The Causes of Spiritual Drought (v. 7)
1. Sin (Psalm 32:3-4)
– Our fellowship with Him is dried up
* “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away . . . for Your hand . . . was heavy upon me.”
2. Physical & emotional fatigue
– Sometimes, we’re just tired & our fatigue affects our passion.
– After a time of great exertion & victory, Elijah was weary, too (I Kings 19).
– Let your body recover. [Truly] praise God for sleep . . .
3. Neglect of something basic & fundamental
– We often try to make our issues so complicated, but often, it’s so simple/basic.
– God’s Word: worship, simple trust
– No matter how “mature” we may become, we are never beyond the basics.
– This is the paradox of droughts: we long for Him but neglect His Word.
4. God’s own (unique) purpose right now (v. 7)
– To teach us insight: He does this intentionally. “God gives us a new revelation of His kindness in the valley of the shadow . . .” (Oswald Chambers)
– To teach us perseverance: Will you trust Me even when the feeling, the strong sense of My presence isn’t there? Even when My Book seems closed? Even when others don’t understand you? Even when My answer is ‘wait’? Even when your ministry does not produce immediate fruit?
Excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters (fictional letters from an experienced demon, Screwtape, to a novice, Wormwood): “Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending to do our Enemy’s [God’s] will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, & asks why he has been forsaken, & still obeys.”
The Way through Spiritual Drought (vv.1-6a, 6-11)
“We allow ourself to talk to us instead of talking to ourself. Rather than listening to self we must learn to talk to ourself” (Martin Lloyd-Jones).
The psalmist talks to God (vv. 1-4)
The psalmist talks to himself (vv. 5-6a)
2 Wise Things (vv. 6-11):
1. He remembers
– He remembers who God is, not through the illusions of the valley but from the view he remembers from the hilltop.
2. He persists
* “For I shall again praise Him . . .”
In his dryness, self has deceived him . . . away from self to God, then he will be able to see the deception & counter the lies of self with Truth. Though this time of dryness is real, it is not final.