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Guarding Against Spiritual Numbness

“And they told him, ‘Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.’ And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them,” (Genesis 45:26 ESV).

I must admit, although not very often, that there are times within my spiritual walk that I become “deprived of the power to feel or move normally,” (American Heritage Dictionary, 2009) within Christ. I become “emotionally unresponsive or indifferent” (American Heritage Dictionary, 2009) for no apparent reason. Even just going through the motions of Christian activity becomes impossible for me. I become severely frost bitten – not depressed, not joyful – just frozen like a child in a game of freeze tag. And, these times are not necessarily triggered by sin but, in my case, predictably lead to sin although I sincerely desire not to sin (Romans 7:19).

I call this state of being spiritual numbness. It may last for a couple of hours or an entire day. These moments are characterized by total inaction. I cannot pray; I cannot meditate on the Word; nor am I able to allow a fellow brother or sister to bear my burden with me. I hate these moments because my zest and zeal to do the work God has called me to do temporarily lose its kinetic energy and lock me into place. As I analyze this condition, I acknowledge that this state may stem from an unconfessed fear that prevents me from faithfully walking into what God has for me because intellectually I understand that “one cannot go with God and remain where he is,” (unknown).

In Genesis 45:25-28, Jacob was told that his favorite son Joseph was alive but he did not believe it until his sons told him the words of Joseph and showed him the blessings that came to him through Joseph. Then he believed Joseph was alive, though he had not yet seen him. Like Jacob, I have found that the only way to defrost from spiritual numbness is to immerse myself with people and media (radio, television, music) that speak the words of Jesus and demonstrate His blessings in their lives. As a result, I become revived and re-energized which allows me to see those who are hurting, identify with their pain, and to minister the Word of God so that they may be introduced to the Savior or encouraged to press on.

When I focus inward, I become immobilized. It is only when I am reminded of His Word and focus on what He is doing in the lives of others and my own life am I able to put His Word into action. Our Christian walk has nothing to do with isolationism, but everything to do with relationship with Christ Jesus and fellow believers. In freeze tag, the only way to unfreeze a frozen friend is for a person who is not "it" to run by the frozen one and touch him. It is my prayer that those who are not frozen to touch the spiritually numb with the power of God’s Word in a warm and loving way whenever and wherever the need arises.

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