We live in a struggling world. We witness violence in our cities, and we fear for our safety. We fear for our jobs. We are anxious about the influence of friends on our children. Often our hearts break with the disappointments in life. Our hearts are filled with doubt and our faith is challenged. Will God intervene? Does He still care? We are experiencing spiritual vertigo.
Physical vertigo is a condition where your brain cannot process what your eyes see. Spiritual vertigo happens when our faith cannot process what we see, hear, or experience. We become spiritually disconnected, off balance, and doubt our faith in God.
Here are seven issues that lead to spiritual vertigo in our lives and how we can overcome them:
We have been taught to believe in ourselves, but what happens when the circumstances of life go beyond our talent, intellect or skills? We turn to God, but we are not in the habit of depending on Him. How do we pray? How do we express faith in Him in a crisis? When our children face problems or trouble, when finances are tight, when we face physical afflictions, it is difficult for us to change gears. It is foreign to us to depend on Christ. The key is to humble ourselves before the Lord. Colossians 2:6 says, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” How did we receive Christ? We humbled ourselves at the cross, realizing that we can do nothing to save ourselves. We depend totally on Christ to save us from our sins. Now, as believers, we need to humble ourselves at the feet of Christ every day, depend on Him and receive daily grace.
2. Expectations of God.
We have a tendency to map out our lives, at least subconsciously. If life deviates from what we expect, we perceive God has let us down. When we have this outlook, we are really saying that we know what is best for our lives. We have dreams and plans of living a certain lifestyle—a good job, plenty of money, ample free time, happy children, good health, and success. When our plans do not work out, we think God has let us down. The question is—who is in charge of your life? Who is really on the throne?
3. Misunderstanding faith.
Archie Bunker once said, “Faith is believing what nobody would believe if it were not in the Bible.” When tragedy strikes, our friends tell us, “Just trust God.” What does that mean? Have your friends ever experienced real problems? Sometimes we think that if we want something enough and just believe, God will deliver. It’s like we are treating God as a genie and how much we desire is the criteria for receiving. Faith, however, is simply trusting God and His Word. If God has not revealed anything through His Word or in your heart, there is no promise to claim. In order to know God’s promises and have our faith grown, we must study the Bible. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) Only then can we claim the promises of God.
4. Gratitude for past blessings.
Oz Guinness says that faith stands between the “no longer” and the “not yet.” He claims there is a tension between the two. We look at the “no longer” and exercise gratitude for what God has done in our lives. As we become grateful, faith begins to build within our hearts, and we are able to move forward to the “not yet.” For example, in the Old Testament, the problem of the nation of Israel was that they never stopped to bask in the miracles performed by God. The plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, manna falling from heaven—did nothing to increase their faith in God. They let each miracle stand on its own, never connecting the dots between the “no longer” and the “not yet.” I challenge you to reach back and reflect on God’s blessings in your past. It will help you overcome your spiritual vertigo.
5. Our past performance.
Often times, we feel God will not deliver because we do not deserve it. Scripture teaches that Satan is the accuser of the brethren. Sometimes, when we don’t feel blessed we think it is our fault—we are not living close enough or holy enough. If it’s my fault, why should God help? Please know that God loved you so much that Christ came to die for your sins. You may think, “Yes but that was before I became a Christian. What about the sins I have committed since I became a believer?” When Jesus died on the cross 2,000 years ago, all your sins were in the future. God says, “I will remember your sins (against you) no more.” God erased your past at the cross—you need to put it behind you as well.
6. Spiritual warfare.
Our faith will always face opposition. Our greatest battles are with Satan. He tempts us to sin, steals God’s Word from our hearts, places guilt over forgiven sins, leads us into sinful habits in our lives, and discourages us. Satan’s battleground is your mind. That’s why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” The key to battling Satan is to fill your mind with Scripture and resist his thoughts of defeat, discouragement, and despair the moment they enter your mind.
7. Loss of hope.
In Scripture, hope is not merely wishful thinking; rather it is trusting in the promises of God. Biblical hope is knowing God has something for you in the future and you are looking forward to receiving it. Sometimes we struggle because we have allowed failure, delays, and trials to discourage us—circumstances surrounding us seem hopeless. In his book, “When the Gods are Silent,” Kornelis Miscotte wrote about the horrors of Auschwitz. In it, he poses the chilling question, “One can still believe in the God who permitted to happen what did happen, but can one still speak to Him?” There is still hope. Hope that God will do His will in your life; hope that God will rescue you from bondage, that He will answer your prayers; that He will deliver. The greatest gold strike in history was discovered two inches from where the last man stopped digging. God loves you and He does have a plan for you. Don’t give up!
Dr. Dwayne Mercer: A native of Georgia, Dwayne Mercer is a graduate of Toccoa Falls College, Southwestern Baptist, and Mid-America Baptist Theological seminaries. Dr. Mercer has served as Pastor of CrossLife Church in Oviedo, Florida since 1993. During that time, the church has grown from 650 to 5000 members, and over 4000 new believers have been baptized. His latest book is entitled “Overcoming Spiritual Vertigo.” He and his wife, Pam, have three adult children and six adorable grandchildren. For more information, visit www.crosslifechurch.com or www.drdwaynemercer.blogspot.com.
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Publication date: November 28, 2016