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In a funk


Once again the Urban Dictionary provides the best definition for what I'm trying to describe today. It's the emotional load of being in a funk. What is a funk? It's not all that complicated---

funk: a state of undesirable emotions or feeling out-of-sorts. These feelings may include but are not limited to: sadness, boredom that is unusually difficult to curb, laziness, unworthiness, and an overall feeling of malaise.

And, we all go there at one time or another, even if we don't reside there most of the time. It's an emotional load that's heavy.

With all the talk about clinical depression I want to be on guard about over-playing this thing. Most of us deal with some level of depression as we experience the speed and variability of life. But, that's not what I'm talking about here. My topic today isn't the stuff of therapy, shrinks, and medication. In my book a funk isn't just a new expression of psycho-babble or a chronic, severe despondency that reduces us to a new life low. It is more a temporary intermission of normalcy, whatever that is, evidenced by lower energy, perhaps loss of creative thought, inability to focus, decline of initiative, and a general sense of distance from people and activities usually considered important. Funk happens when we want to stand with our head against a wall. It's frustrating!

If it's any consolation there's plenty of funk in the Bible too. Bible scholars with textual skills and interpretive finesse quickly declare many great Bible personages as clinically depressed, experiencing various stages of emotional collapse, burnout, exhaustion, or just plain aggravation with God. They're all above my pay-grade and beyond my ability to diagnose. But, there are many occasions that I would simply label as moments of personal funk, when they were overcome by a moment, or a group of them landing at one time. Who can read Job, David, Solomon, the Prophets, or any of the New Testament writings without noticing the evidences of momentary lows? How did they rebound from them? What were the mechanics of their recovery? How can we, two thousand plus years later, overcome the inertia of a momentary funk?

1. Look up.

You're right! Sometimes we don't feel like looking up. But, the Bible reminds us

to look up even when we don't feel like it. In Psalm 119 there are many

expressions of King David's funk. In them he prayed, "Turn my eyes from

looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways" (Psalm 119:37).

2. Examine yourself to inventory your spiritual life.

A funk doesn't necessarily signal a lapse in your spiritual discipline or personal

growth. But, it is worthy of review if the funk persists. Paul wrote, "Examine

yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. or do you not

realize that Jesus Christ is in you?---unless indeed you fail to meet the test"

(2 Corinthians 13:5).

3. Take refreshment.

One day Jesus noticed the wear and tear evident in his disciples. They had led a

grueling few days of dealing with the Lord's rejection at Nazareth, their first

mission, and news of John the Baptist's death. Jesus said, "Come away by

yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while" (Mark 6:31). He knew the

physical toll of their fatigue and their need for physical refreshment. Many of

our funks are simply our bodies crying out to to us for some rest. Listen and

take heed.

4. Get real about life.

Paul reminded the Corinthians about the limits of our miserable human

condition. He wrote, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the

surpassing power belongs to God and not to us" (2 Corinthians 4:7). There's a

super-man and woman syndrome passing through the ranks today. We like to

burn the candle at both ends! A funk reminds us of our humanity. Listen up.

5. Go with it.

Sophisticated moderns have forgotten the concept of Sabbath. This is more

than physical refreshment, but a time when God renews us in every way,

physically, spiritually, and emotionally. When the funk happens your senses, all

of them, are coordinating to tell you something is needed. Pay attention. Step

back. Observe a Sabbath for personal renewal.

Each week I read 2 Peter 1:3-15 as a primer for times of funk. Peter knew about that. He wrote about the qualities that, if present in our lives, make us effective and fruitful in our knowledge of the Lord (see 2 Peter 2:8). Yes, there are moments that we are disconnected from what is happening around us. But, with these qualities, they are just moments and not a lifestyle that defines us.


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