Stuck -jeremy-bishopDo you feel stuck? How long have you been stuck? Was there a situation that happened that threw you into the “stuck” state?

If the definition of stuck is ‘stationary by some obstruction’, then I believe that many times we can get stuck because something happened that we don’t process in a biblical way.  Chronologically, the calendar keeps moving forward, but emotionally, the hands of the clock stand still as we are locked in pain, bitterness, or grief. Someone has hurt us, we hurt ourselves, or some situation has transpired that threw us down the rabbit hole and we don’t know how to get out.  The pain and question marks become the unwanted house guests who refuse to leave.

If we’re Bible believing Christians, this is particularly burdensome, because we have all of this Scripture that promises that the Lord will carry our burdens, that He will be our peace, and that no weapon formed against us will prosper.  So how do we handle the loss when a weapon formed against us does seem to prosper – when we lose a loved one or a relationship, when we experience a large setback like divorce or bankruptcy, or when a habit or addiction has caused us to make some hurtful choices and now we’re living in the stink of those choices?

I believe the answer is to learn how to process our situations in light of the Truth of Who God is and what He says He will do with our messes. We get stuck because a trauma has frozen us in one spot.

But there are ways to get “unstuck”. Let’s look at a couple.

#1 – Fix our perspective: One of the blessings of getting older is perspective. I distinctly recall panic in my younger years brought on by the fear that the current state of affairs was a ‘forever deal’. I was convinced that nothing was going to change and I would be STUCK in this horror show forever! But things did change. And the dark night passed until eventually it was a memory.

For me, the worst part about feeling stuck in either a difficult season or in my own spiritual bleakness is that it feels as if it will go on forever. Keeping perspective and realizing that hard times and even seasons of spiritual weariness are normal for everyone, will often draw the curtain on feelings of being stuck. Panic is kerosene to pain. The way to douse the flames of panic is trusting that God is not only good, but that He’s good to YOU. He hasn’t fallen off His throne or forgotten about you. He is lovingly working even your own mistakes for your favor as your eyes are turned to Him in prayer and petition.

Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

#2 – Call the cavalry: I have also learned that while most of the time the dark night passes, the opposite can be true if I’m not careful.  What was a hole that I got stuck in became a crater that almost buried me.

So what made the difference between the circumstance that passed and the one that got worse? Honesty and vulnerability – with myself and, in some cases, with others. As long as I kept my fears, my insecurities, or my misaligned thoughts to myself, the crater grew and grew. But the moment I brought that junk out into the light and  brought someone I trusted along side to look at it with me, I was able to take inventory, make changes and throw some the garbage out.

I’ll be honest, I have a personality that is easily overwhelmed. When I hit a wall, I can easily back away and sit in the corner unwilling to run at it again.  I have had to train myself after many seasons of not doing the next important thing and staying stuck in a dissatisfying place, that doing nothing doesn’t make the problem go away. It allows the problem to fester like gangrene.

But let’s be real – being honest and vulnerable about the crazy thoughts going on in our heads, or the pain and trauma we are still reeling in, is scary.  Being an only child made me a very private person, so this was an especially acute fear for me. But a few times in my early adulthood I accidentally brought another person into my pity crater and let them see the real me. I opened up about my feelings of being overwhelmed, inadequate, or sorrowful and then I saw how their hand outstretched in compassion and encouragement got me “unstuck” in record time. From these experiences I learned that the sooner I bring someone on board, the sooner I get my ship turned around.

James 5:16 – Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Sometimes, the only person I need to get on board is Jesus.  I can’t tell you how many times I have written in my journal page after page of the “facts” as I saw them.  I told God everything that was wrong. And when I was done I waited to hear what He would say. Would He condemn me for getting into such a mess? For being lazy and not on top of my game? For letting things slip backwards…AGAIN?

Never. That’s never the voice I hear when He speaks. I always hear His voice bringing solutions for how to move forward rather than berating me over what is in the past. I hear vision and encouragement to pick me up out of the crater. I often hear a plan with actual steps to follow. And then I scratch my head and wonder why it took me so long to bring the Lord on board when I know how quick He is to answer and assist!

Luke 8:23-25 – As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!” (Italics mine)

So if you find yourself in a “stuck” place right now, I encourage you to write it all out. Take it to God and ask Him for His wisdom, His grace and His perspective on what you can do to get out of the pit. And if you see the face of a person you trust in your mind’s eye, don’t shrug it off.  They just might be the life ring that God is sending to help pull you out.

No matter what, you’re not alone. This will not be a forever deal if you reach out and reach up!

Now you:

  • Are you feeling stuck right now?
  • Do you struggle to see a way out of the mess?
  • Has it been such a long time in the pit that you don’t think it can ever change? Have you slipped back into the same pit so many times that you don’t trust you can ever change?

If this is the case, I encourage you to read the Gospels in the New Living Translation or in the Message Translation.  But when you read the gospels, read them looking for the lost causes.  Take note of what Jesus does with lost causes and hopeless situations. See if anyone or anything was too much of a mess for Him to fix, heal or deliver. Fact check my theory for yourself. See if Jesus ever met a hurting person that He didn’t love. See if He ever met a storm He couldn’t calm, a sinner He couldn’t save, a disease He couldn’t heal or a financial situation He couldn’t provide for.

This is the same Jesus that you can pray to and worship right now. This the God that you can bring on board this very minute. I encourage you to reach out and trust that He can get you “unstuck” and keep you from falling.

Let’s pray:

Dear Lord, I need You right now. I feel stuck.  I don’t know how to make the changes I need to make. I don’t know how to move forward. And even if I did know what to do, I’m not sure I have what it takes to follow through to the other side. Can you please pour out Your grace on me and pull me up and out of this pit? By Your mercy, please hold me and impart Your wisdom to me so that I know what I need to do tomorrow to start to turn this around. If there is someone I need to open up to, please reveal that to me now. I love you, Jesus. Thank You for loving me in the pit and for bringing me up and out of it! Thank you that by Your power, I’m beginning to walk into a new season! Amen.