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Beware of the Doldrums!

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Beware of the Doldrums!

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It’s an odd word, doldrums, but maybe you’ve heard the term used. It seems to have its origins somewhere in the 18th century, specifically for maritime usage. The term refers to a region in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans around the equator where winds would stop, causing an eerie, calm water to reside.

In today’s reality, with strong engine-driving ships, a calm and windless water is no problem. However, in earlier times, the main mode of ship travel was wind pushing the ship’s sails. In this period of sea travel, it would have been quite troubling to be caught in the doldrums. If caught in this inactive zone, the absence of wind could cause a long delay, perhaps trapping a ship and its crew for days or even weeks. Being trapped for weeks could be a serious issue. With no communication with the outside world, there was no immediate rescue for these crews. Food and drinking water rations would need to be strictly enforced, and even then, survival wasn’t guaranteed.

Now when we hear the word doldrums today, it is used more as a turn of phrase rather than its seafaring origins. One might be asked if they have a case of the doldrums? And they would know they are being asked if they are stuck in a stagnant phase of life or a period of inactivity. We’ve maybe experienced this use of the word. But, how about used another way: Have you ever experienced what we could call spiritual doldrums?

If we are honest, likely most of us have at some point. Maybe it was a time, for whatever reason, instead of growing in grace and knowledge we were standing still, maybe even shrinking back. In a real sense, this can happen to any one of us, at any period of our life and for any length of time.

But God has a sort of annual medicine, if you will, to help cure us of a spiritual doldrums.

Each year we take part in observing God’s Holy festivals and, through them, we can see God’s plan for all humanity, including His plan for us individually. Because of this, the Holy Days can serve as wind in our sails, giving us a sense of revitalization, moving us where God wants us to be.

However, if not on guard, it is after these Holy Days each year that we can more easily fall prey to the spiritual doldrums. This lengthy gap between the end of the fall Holy Days until the spring Holy Days is like that eerie, calm water described earlier. If we’re not taking the right precautions, we can find ourselves drifting aimlessly through stagnant waters, not moving forward and rationing the spiritual food we partook of from the fall feasts until spring. But we don’t want to enter the spring Holy Days empty. Our spiritual storehouse needs to be full in order to fully appreciate and observe all of those days to the fullest.

Seeing that the period without the Holy Day reminders of God’s plan is upon us, let’s look at how we can stay active, how we can avoid falling prey to drifting aimlessly through this spiritual doldrum and move forward in our Christian walks.

Social Connectivity

One of the most obvious statements for us is that when troubled or falling into a rut, our ultimate reliance should be on God, understanding that God helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26 Romans 8:26Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
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). We should turn to God, not only in our times of distress, but also in our times of abundance. God is our ultimate provider and comforter through any times of distress, as God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 [3] Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; [4] Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God. [5] For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ.
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).

Although we all have different personalities, something that many of us have in common is that we are created to enjoy social connectivity.

Our creator God is wonderful concerning all His commandments, specifically so in the command to remember and keep His Sabbath holy (Exodus 20:8 Exodus 20:8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
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; Deuteronomy 5:12 Deuteronomy 5:12Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD your God has commanded you.
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; Leviticus 23:3 Leviticus 23:3Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
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). Created as social creatures, God knew what He was doing when He commanded that we all gather together on the Sabbath day.

After returning from the Feast of Tabernacles, a time of continued gathering day after day, we could fall into a sense of loneliness or aimlessness. However, continuing to assemble every Sabbath day is an opportunity for us to rekindle spiritually with one another. We can use the opportunity of gathering each Sabbath to stir up one another in love and good works. We see the writer of Hebrews mention this in Hebrews 10:24-25 Hebrews 10:24-25 [24] And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works: [25] Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
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. Just as the Feast of Tabernacles can be refreshing and rejuvenating, each Sabbath day can and should be refreshing, allowing us to refocus and get back on course. It’s wonderful how God gives us this day each week to stay headed steadfastly in the right direction.

Open Your Bible Daily

During each of God’s feasts, we get the wonderful opportunity to learn from God’s Word, specifically during the Feast of Tabernacles each day. Once we return home after those daily services, we can have an abundance of notes and memories to dwell on. Something that comes to mind is the example of the Bereans. Reading through the account of those in Berea found in Acts 17:10-11 Acts 17:10-11 [10] And the brothers immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night to Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. [11] These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
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, we find recorded that, when taught, the Bereans “received the word with all readiness.” Hopefully, this is something we’ve done at this last Feast and at each Sabbath service, weekly.

However, it isn’t best to only receive the word with readiness. Yes, we should receive sermons with all readiness, but we should be diligent to prove them from God’s Word. If we continue reading, we see the Bereans did just that. Acts 17:11 Acts 17:11These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
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continues with: “. . . and searched the scriptures daily whether these things were so.” We should take time daily to study and enrich ourselves in God’s Words. Bible studies can be an important way to avoid falling into aimless spiritual doldrums.

Envision the Future

When considering the long season ahead of us, we must continue to keep our minds focused, always looking ahead. We can think on the wonderful passages we read and heard during the fall feasts that picture a wonderful future to come. This future time is one of peace, one of restoration of all things. We must seek out this picture in our minds, constantly dwelling on the better promises to come. Matthew records Jesus Christ’s own words concerning this mindset: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
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). While we seek, we can find encouragement, finding what we need to be doing in our lives, to enter those promises.

Throughout the seafaring world, since the modern invention of engine propelled ships, the threat of the windless doldrums is almost non-existent. However, the spiritual analogy we can see from them is still something to look out for. At times all too often we can find ourselves in a rut throughout life, especially after the fall feasts, finding ourselves in a spiritually windless state, sailing aimlessly week after week. But it doesn’t have to be so!

We can take solace in the fact that God is a compassionate Father, not willing that anyone perish, but that all should come to repentance.

We must strive to avoid the doldrums, and always be on guard. Take time each day to ask for God’s guidance, fully relying on Him.

Remember God’s Sabbath and strive to keep it holy each week, not just while at services, but the entire Sabbath.

Take time to study God’s Word, looking for His answers to life’s troubles. When overwhelmed at times, remember to think on God’s coming Kingdom, remember the promises that are soon to come. Strive to live God’s way of life, and in doing so sail steadfastly towards God’s Kingdom, right on past those dreaded spiritual doldrums!