A woman feel bored on a table with some plants

3 Ways to Counter Spiritual Boredom

Written by Natalie Wun, Singapore

A month ago, I heard a powerful message during my church’s online conference:

“The COVID-19 crisis reveals fault lines, and it presents for us an opportunity to examine the condition of our hearts.”

According to the speaker, these fault lines were: A lack of holy desire. An absence of depth in relationships. Inner restlessness.

As I examined my heart, I knew God was pointing me to these fault lines in particular: a lack of depth in relationships and inner restlessness.

Realising the shallowness of my relationship with God wasn’t immediate. I initially thought I was doing okay as I’ve been keeping to my spiritual habits. I hadn’t been missing the weekly cell group meetings and services. I was also consistent in my quiet time, though there were many moments I rushed through Scripture and prayers. Eventually these spiritual disciplines that I held onto so tightly became a mere checklist to fulfill rather than personal encounters with God.

Lately, I’ve also found myself struggling to make sense of the harsh responses on social media in light of the River Valley incident. Even as my heart goes out to the victim and his family, I couldn’t help but see the fallenness of sin in the 16-year-old boy. My heart has been rather restless and in need of peace. Perhaps some of you may feel the same.

Truth be told, our Christian life can sometimes feel ordinary or mundane. Sometimes, we may struggle to reconcile our feelings or fail to understand why certain things happen (Ecclesiastes 1:8; Psalm 119:28)—leading to a sense of restlessness.

As I persevered through this restlessness, here are three lessons I’ve learnt along the way:

 

1. Boredom can be an invitation to rediscover fresh ways to encounter God.

During the conference, God urged me to listen carefully to my boredom. I needed an extra dose of courage to admit to myself that I may not be where I would like to be, and that it is okay to go through monotonous times.

As I began to grapple with the emptiness within, it led me to realise that I had been satisfied with scratching the surface when I could have sought a deeper intimacy with Jesus.

To address this, I decided that, instead of defaulting to my usual routine of reading a few Bible passages, I would find devotional plans that could help deepen my understanding of the Word.

A key takeaway I got from one of these devotional plans was this: Spiritual boredom can be God’s gracious invitation for us to explore and rediscover joy in the love He has so freely given us.

One way to do this is to cultivate a habit of thankfulness, to reflect on the blessings God has given us, and His faithfulness in our lives.

As we do so, we are reminded that “Joy is a deep and enduring state of soul that no circumstance, event or human can steal away from us.”[1] Even when life gets boring, we can choose to live in joy by going back to God and finding delight in Him.

It took many nights of praying and surrendering to God for this truth to be nested in my heart. I’m still in the process of learning but at least I’m better positioned now to know that I can respond differently to disheartening news: to trust in God’s good and perfect ways despite not having full understanding.

 

2. Feeling adrift is a reminder for us to refocus on our purpose.

We were never meant for dull lives; Jesus intended for us to live life to the fullest (John 10:10)—to live for His purpose and glory.

And this purpose can be seen in the new command Jesus gave: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

Knowing that God has called me to be set apart for His purposes is a very personal thing. I am thankful that He has chosen me not because of what I can offer, but because of His love. In turn, I want to love as Jesus loved, and to meet the needs of people wherever they may be. As a university student, this means making time to listen to my fellow schoolmates’ struggles, to offer to pray for them and share study packs with them. And I pray that I can continue to do so even when things get hectic—to love consistently and not just when it is convenient.

It’s not easy to always remember our purpose as His disciples, and so we need to do away with the mentality of being tired of hearing the same message being preached over and over. Instead, as we learn more about God’s heart and His purposes, let’s pray that our head knowledge translates into heart knowledge, that we will meditate on what we’ve learned and take intentional effort to be doers of His Word (James 1:22).

 

3. Instead of passively waiting, we can initiate conversations and invest in our spiritual family.

What does church mean to us? If our definition of the church is simply a building, an organisation, or a programme, then it’s easy to feel that the Christian life becomes repetitive over time.

The Bible, however, offers us a different picture of the Church in Acts 2:42-47. Verse 45 in particular describes best what the Church should look like, with all believers looking to meet each other’s needs.

Beyond our usual programmes, we can initiate real conversations about matters on our hearts and invite God to anchor our discussions. This involves intentionally reaching out, through text, call, or in-person meeting, to trustworthy friends, mentors or cell group leaders.

Perhaps what we require in seasons of spiritual boredom is a different perspective, and someone to help us navigate our feelings (Proverbs 27:17).

I was very blessed to have friends who journeyed with me through this time. They offered different perspectives which shed light on how I felt towards the social climate. One perspective I found helpful was to recognise that we all have different experiences in life, and thus our responses to tragedies may differ, and I’m in no position to invalidate their feelings. They also sent texts of prayer and encouragement while I climbed out of the rut.

Investing in our spiritual family may feel counter-intuitive in times of spiritual restlessness, when our hearts and minds are elsewhere. But I’ve found that pushing through the inertia to be present with my spiritual family has been worth it, and has brought out joy in me.

If you’re also feeling bored and restless in this season, may I encourage you shift your magnifying glass from your problems to God. Look to Christ, and trust that He will provide you with the will to persevere even as you go through the motions.

 

[1] “Fruit of the Spirit” devotional plan

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