Let’s be honest. We all have those seasons.

Dry. Tired. Lost.

You think God doesn’t love you. You haven’t felt His presence or joy in days or months. You keep asking yourself, “what am I doing wrong? Am I being punished?”

Everyone goes through the desert. In fact I’d be hard pressed to find a Christian who hasn’t gone through that season of spiritual emptiness.

Too many times we want to zip through the valleys and only dwell in the mountaintops. The truth is without the valleys there’d be no such thing as mountaintops. Also we shouldn’t blame God when it rains in our life. Without rain, nothing grows. He knows, He is near, and we can trust that He is good and He is our Father. Instead of praying that God would take us out of the desert, we should pray that God would teach us while in the desert.

Whenever we have those dry spells though, the enemy likes to creep in and spread a few lies in order to isolate us from our faith family and make us run from the open arms of God. Below are three things I’ve learned and have to remind myself of every time I’m in one of those seasons.

1. Stay in church community. Don’t go lone ranger.

Whenever we feel unloved by God, or like we have no “power or strength” from him our first inclination is to run. We feel dirty. We feel unwelcome. We feel unloved. We isolate and hide. The best thing we can do when that is happening is to intentionally surround ourselves with our brothers and sisters of the faith. They can pray for us. They can encourage us. They can share their similar stories. We are all in this together. Trying to weather a storm as a single tree will leave us completely shredded and uprooted. But if an entire forest is weathering the storm they all bend together and come back up together.

2. When you feel like praying the least, is when you should pray the most.

D.A. Carson said sometimes when we don’t feel like praying we have to “pray ourselves into prayer.” I’m terrible at this one. Whenever I feel dry I have not one molecule in me that wants to pray. That should be the first indication that is when I need it most. Set a time and keep it. Be silent. Be still. Ask God to speak to you through His word. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it feels like He isn’t there. But sometimes He shows up when you least expect it.

3. Be honest, transparent, and real with God and others.

I remember when I first became a Christian I thought I couldn’t be honest with God. I thought I couldn’t be mad at Him. I thought I couldn’t scream at Him. One day though after a set of events where it felt like God had “failed” me, I couldn’t take it anymore. I lost it. I threw my bible across the room and said, “this doesn’t even work anymore!” And it was in that moment I heard a quiet whisper saying, “now that you’ve dropped the charade, we can get somewhere.” It wasn’t until I was completely transparent with God that I started to see just how beautiful He truly is. We don’t need to always have a smile. We can cry. We can yell. We can be frustrated. And the best part of that is God actually wants us to cast all that stuff on Him (1 Peter 5:7). Has it ever shocked you how explicit and raw the Psalms are? Somewhere around 80 percent of them are laments. They aren’t all “worship” songs. Until we are fully transparent with our loving Father, we’ll never feel the weight of burden and anxiety off our shoulders.

What about you? What do you do during the dry seasons? What has God taught you in those times?

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