Living devoted to God and His Word is easy when times are good. It is easy to be faithful, love God, and spend time reading the Bible when our hearts are light, our bank accounts steady, and our relationships are all intact.
But what about those other seasons, the harder seasons? What about those times of life when things are flipped upside down and our hearts are hurting?
How do we live devoted then?
That’s the question I’ve been trying to answer for myself because this season has been HARD. I’ve felt more distant from God than I ever have before. I have been overwhelmed and stressed and just barely scraping by.
Most days I want to just run away from it all, but I keep trudging along because there is work to do and I’m trying to stay one step ahead of anxiety.
How do we live devoted when life looks like that? How do we stay devoted in the midst of pandemics and illness and injustice and the loss of jobs, relationships, loved ones, and security?
What I’ve discovered is that devotion itself doesn’t look all that different, just how we practice it.
The definition of the word “devotion” is simple and broad. It means to be committed, steadfast, and faithful to something or someone.
What trips us up as Christians, however, is that we tend to create our own guidelines of what devotion looks like.
Devotion looks like reading my Bible every day, going to church on Sundays (or attending online), and reading spiritual formation books; it means fasting and praying and embracing joy in every season.
While those things can definitely be part of our devoted life, those are simple practices that help us engage with God. They are good practices and worth our time and effort.
However, when hard seasons come and our hearts are hurting, we have to allow ourselves space and opportunity to adapt.
Relationships go through seasons, and that is no different in our relationship with God.
Sometimes we are all in and sometimes we feel far from Him.
Sometimes we’re showing up every morning to study the Bible, and sometimes we’re lucky if we can read one verse in a week.
What I want you to hear today–the same thing I’m telling myself–is that as life goes through its seasons, so will your relationship with God. You will have good seasons and harder seasons. The point of devotion is continuing to show up and stay put.
How to live devoted when your heart is hurting
So what does devotion look like in those hard seasons? Particularly when your heart is hurting. How do you approach God when you’re struggling to trust Him or believe that He is good? How do you spend time in His Word and read His promises when the world is upside down and you’re holding so much grief?
Give yourself lots of grace. Don’t feel like you have to check off all the Christian boxes. Make the effort to spend time with the Lord and maintain your routine, but don’t beat yourself up on those days when you just can’t.
Find different ways to connect with God. Devotion is all about making space to connect with God, and in some seasons that connection time might look different. A great way to stay devoted is simply to switch up the practices you are using. If you’d like to explore different ways to build connections with God, check out the 10 Day Devotional Challenge. This challenge will give you 10 different prompts and ideas to mix up your devotional routine and learn new ways to spend time with the Lord.
Be brutally honest. When you’re facing hard seasons, it may seem easier to push the emotions aside and just get through this season. While it may seem less painful, disconnecting from your emotions and feelings, do this will also disconnect you from God. Instead, keep communication open with Him and be brutally honest about what you are feeling and experiencing and thinking. He can handle it. You might even find this season of brutal honesty draws you closer to Him over time.
Get in community. One of the things that has kept me going in this season with my hurting heart is my community. Every Tuesday evening and every Sunday afternoon I get around my people who I know love God and love me. I allow myself to be honest with where I am and I lean hard on their faith. We aren’t mean to walk any portion of this life alone, especially the hard parts. If you’re struggling to live devoted, get around people who love Jesus and lean on their faith for a while. Let them in and allow them to help you carry the burdens.
Give yourself reminders. Another thing that helps me stay devoted in hard seasons is to give myself physical reminders of God’s love. Sometimes I just need to be reminded of why I decided so long ago to follow Him in the first place. This could be artwork, jewelry, a small knick-knack, a word, or even clothing.
When you wear your devotion or set up reminders to keep living devoted to God, no matter the season, those small reminders will encourage you to keep showing up and keep pressing into God.
Wear your devotion. Check out our Devoted Apparel!
Live in His love!