Acedia

July 29, 2007
by John Stuart

Romans 5:5 — And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (NIV)

I came across a new word the other day: acedia. It means "spiritual languor". I guess it's like belief burnout or compassion fatigue. It's when we lose our connection to God, His church, or His people, and we end up feeling isolated, vulnerable, and maybe even abandoned. I've recently been dealing with some church issues which have zapped me of all my energy and enthusiasm, so I was delighted to discover this word.

Acedia is like being in a spiritual wilderness with no sense of direction, focus, or meaning. It's a hard state to be in and a hard experience to endure. Souls can feel lost in acedia, but it seems to be an important part of our spiritual journey and Christian growth.

The Desert Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries experienced a lot of this, especially when they chose to be isolated from the rest of the Christian community. They went out into the desert to find themselves, because there were too many distractions around them in the towns and cities where they lived. They found the peace and quiet, solace and tranquility they were looking for, but slowly and surely, acedia wormed its way into their hearts and minds. For a time, their souls became depressed, and their grasp of God weakened. Some of them went mad with despair, whilst others were overwhelmed with a spiritual malaise.

So, how did they overcome acedia? They kept on praying. They kept on meditating about God. They kept on reading the Scriptures. And even though this was hard to do, they persevered, bringing their souls through that acediac wilderness to a realization of a new hope in God's overflowing love, through being reconnected to the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps you are feeling the same acedia. Maybe you've felt disconnected from God for a while and have lost some of that peace, presence, and spiritual strength you so desperately need at this time. You're not alone, and others have walked that wilderness path before you. Keep praying. Keep reading. Keep persevering. You'll one day discover that God still holds you in His hand and that He keeps pouring out His love to you day by day, hour by hour, second by second.

Prayer: Father God, sometimes we feel that we have lost our grasp of faith and that things are not the same. Sometimes, we wonder if You are really there, or if we are really that important to You. As we struggle with acedia, keep on loving us. Continue to guide us by Your grace and lead us by Your love. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

John Stuart <traqair@aol.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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