Thanks for the question, Danny. You’ve definitely described a struggle that all of us confront. Though these seasons of seeming spiritual desolation are far from unusual, they don’t have to lead to despair. I find tremendous comfort in the fact that Scripture doesn’t hide from the crushing weight of existence. Have a look at Psalm 88 for an uncompromising prayer that begins and ends in pain. We are finite, fallen, and creaturely—all features that predispose us to various levels of error, pain, and numbness. We should expect and prepare for these aspects of existence; it’s part of getting in touch with reality. The spiritual disciplines (among them prayer, fasting, silence, acts of mercy, etc.) are a vital part of brining our wills into cooperation with God, especially when we feel very little motivation to do so. Community is an essential part of this endeavor: We need to belong to a local church of men and women who will walk with us in these times, hold us accountable, and minister to us in times of distress. We live in a fiercely individualistic culture, but make no mistake: We need each other. Christians who find themselves lagging on the journey often need others to help carry them forward. I know I do.
I think we also need to resist the deep-seated cultural assumption that happiness consists of nothing more than “feeling good.” “Feeling good” usually translates to a sense of buoyancy and subjective satisfaction. However, if we live in a fallen world, this view of happiness is incredibly fragile and naïve. Apart from life’s usual laundry list of inevitable contingencies (illness, failure, death, etc.), something as simple as a bad night’s sleep or an overcast sky can destroy one’s sense of happiness and well-being. Moreover, because of this me-centered dynamic (the how-do-I-feel? tunnel vision), many people who long for constant satisfaction often experience crippling loneliness and isolation. Conversely, Christians understand that true happiness consists in being in a holistic relationship with Christ, and enjoying His righteousness. The byproduct of this relationship is a twofold commitment to loving God and neighbor, both habits that move us beyond the selfish tendencies of our individualistic culture.
There’s much more that could be said, so please feel free to shoot me a follow-up question.