I realize the title may be a bit dramatic. But, really, it may not be dramatic enough.
Boredom and spiritual apathy can lead to big problems. There is an entire website dedicated to boredom therapy. It's called Boredom Therapy (how clever). According to them, they were "founded with the goal of fighting boredom worldwide by engaging our readers with incredibly shareable content." In reality, it's basically a website filled with pointless information you really don't need to know.
Many people fall into anxiety and depression because they are not comfortable with silence or a less-than-full schedule. This leads them to all sorts of problems. Silence & solitude is exactly what we need if we are to hear from God. We need to make time everyday for putting aside distractions and focusing on what matters most, our relationship with our Creator.
When you are not okay with having nothing to do, with being alone, with experiencing silence, you will try to fill that time up with anything but God.
Man has been doing this for thousands of years and look where it has gotten us. You will fill your life up with meaningless activities, your mind and conscious will grow numb and you will have no desire for spiritual food. Spiritual apathy will kick in.
Overall, the lockdowns of COVID-19 have done more harm than good but one thing they have revealed is that people are not very comfortable with slowing down. We have gotten so used to running from place to place and with filling our schedules that, all of a sudden, when we are 'forced' to stay home, we get anxious and upset. Some even go as far as to say they are 'stuck' at home. (I know, I know, we need to look at the other side of the coin. I understand and that's valid. But my focus is not on the validity or credibility of the pandemic.) Reports of escalation in divorces, domestic violence, increase in alcohol consumption, suicides, and more, only confirm that many people are not okay with solitude, silence and (to coin a phrase) intentional inactivity. On the positive side, and to be balanced, many families got closer to each other and some people had more time to focus on their physical and spiritual health.
My challenge is this: Why not run to God during times of silence (or boredom)?
I know this is a paradigm shift for many people but we must learn to get comfortable with being alone with our emotions and alone with God.
If you have not developed the disciplines to do this, there's hope. At the end, I will share 3 simple ways you can start.
But first, in saying that you can 'die' if you don't learn to be alone with God, I'm referring to these two aspects:
1) The extreme end of the spectrum is the negative and horrid result of someone who has fallen into depression, because they have not learned to cope with boredom and, has even gone as far as ending their life. It's tragic. Note: I am not referring to people with mental, physical, chemical imbalances or serious neurological shortcomings.
2) You are a soul. If your soul does not have life from God and is not born again, you will be dead spiritually and when you die physically you will be apart from God, forever. A daunting thought. To receive life, to be born again, and to continue growing spiritually, you must spend time with and learn to be alone with God.
The crowds cannot save you. Gathering in public for corporate worship is wonderful and Biblical but it cannot replace your personal time with God.
Look at all the men and women of faith and one thing they had in common was that they met and walked with God regularly.
Observation 1: Boredom Is Not Biblical
*Boredom is the emotional or physical state one experiences due to lack of mental stimulation, activities to do, or interest in one’s surroundings. Life is not an action movie. We all will experience times of feeling listlessness and ennui. Proverbs 19:15 speaks of how “slothfulness” can lead to unpleasant circumstances. Experiencing boredom is not a sin, but attitudes and choices that lead to or arise from boredom may lead us into doing things that are sinful.
Most of life is made up of mundane moments. It doesn't matter if you're a farmer in the villages of Romania, or a Hollywood actor in California. Christians, of all people, must strive to live with passion—not apathy—and overcome boredom with positive productivity. For example, if we are bored because we are lazy, that's more of an attitude problem. Proverbs 6:6–11 provides a harsh admonition against laziness: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.”
Beware of laziness - Satan loves idle hands; physical/mental/spiritual lethargy leads to lack of motivation, which prevents Christians from pursuing God’s will. First Timothy 5:13 speaks of how idleness may also lead to sinful activities. With no distinct aim or goal in a fallen world, entertaining depravity becomes an enticing alternative to boredom. Yet 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Christians can choose not to sin and live in a God-honoring manner. Boredom and indifference need not direct our future.
Work heartily - Colossians 3:23–24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Believers glorify God by living their lives to the fullest, exhibiting a “quiet” testimony by living as Christ would (Matthew 5:16). The apostle Paul fought off boredom with hard work in order to help the weak and supply the needs of the ministry (Acts 20:34–35). In Athens, when Paul had some “down time” while waiting for Timothy and Silas, he never got bored—he preached to whoever would listen (Acts 17:16–17).
Combating boredom can be a challenge sometimes, though with a small amount of effort a list of more productive activities is likely to emerge: clean your living space, read a book, spend time with a friend or family member, memorize some Scripture, write a letter of encouragement, pray. If you find yourself with nothing to do, emulate Jesus’ example by exploring ways to serve others. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Even taking a coffee or tea break with a friend can be an encouraging gift of love.
Make the most of your time on earth, for life is but a vapor (James 4:14). Redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16). Do not allow the enemy to take a foothold through boredom. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
We can choose to use our time wisely for God and not allow boredom or sin to stifle our ability to follow God’s will (Romans 12:2).
Observation 2: Boredom Is A Fairly New Concept
Growing up, I don't recall ever saying ''I'm bored." I always had something to do, found something to do, or my parents gave me something to do. Music was a passion of mine and if I wasn't outside with my siblings or playing sports with the kids in the neighborhood, I was probably playing my violin or writing music. This is just 20-30 years ago. Times have certainly changed. Let's take it back even farther.
**In the history of the human race, boredom is practically brand new - less than three hundred years old. The English word does not appear until the 1850's, and its parent word bore (as a noun - 'he is such a bore') appears only a century earlier. The French word ennui begins to mean what we call 'boredom' around the same time. Before the eighteenth century, there simply wasn't a common word for that feeling of frustration and lassitude that overtakes so many of us so often - not just in long lines at the grocery store or the airport but in our own homes as well.
Could it be that modern life is boring in a way that premodern life was not? How could this be?
Our world has more distractions and entertainments than we could ever consume. We feel busy and overworked in ways our grandparents couldn't have imagined (even as many of us work far less hard, physically, than most of them did).
Observation 3: Boredom Can Trigger Depression
Boredom is frequently an indicator of depression, but it can also be a precipitator or trigger. For example, a common cause of boredom in adults is a 'boring' job or work environment. Let's take an imaginary but realistic example, Tom. Tom sits in his cubicle all day, with whitewashed walls and bright overhead lights, which can be quite draining. Tom does the same mind-numbing tasks each day, which get tedious and monotonous. Tom is chronically bored.
People like Tom who are in these kinds of jobs can start to feel depressive symptoms, like a feeling of hopelessness and worthlessness, fatigue, guilt over not doing something more with their lives, difficulty concentrating, and diminishment of pleasure in activities. They may also have trouble sleeping or sleep too much. And it all began with boredom! (Study.com, Karen Gonzalez, Social Worker)
Going Against The Grain - Being Alone With God
How can you get comfortable with being alone (alone with your emotions and alone with God)?
1. Make it a priority
You will make it a priority once you realize it is a privilege. Think about it. God doesn't have to meet with you. He is all-powerful and majestic. He is Lord and Creator of all. He is not made any holier or wiser by meeting with you. And yet, He wants to meet with you! Once you grasp this thought, you will run to Him. As long as you keep treating it like something you have to do versus something you get to do, you will never find enjoyment in it. To make it a priority, understand the privilege. Then, you will begin to block out time for it throughout the day. You will begin to think on things above and not below. Even in the midst of common, routine and even mundane tasks, your mind will be preoccupied with God. Is there anything better?
2. Make it a practice
It doesn't matter if you self-identify as an introvert or an extrovert, you need to be alone with your emotions and alone with God.
It's clear that we all will all have mundane moments in life, in fact, most of life is made up of mundane moments, but we don't have to label it as boredom. See it as an opportunity.
That was my mindset growing up. Utilize 'down' time to get creative, to build, to serve, to connect, to learn, to explore, and so on. And, then, schedule 'down' time for solitude with God, prayer, Bible reading, worship, and so on. The more frequently you do this the more intimate it will become.
3. Journal It
Journal your moments and experiences with God or, in more modern terms - record it. And then, share it with others. What do you think the Psalms in the Scriptures were? They are the innermost thoughts and yearning of the heart, written out. Those who only consume content, even if it is good, healthy, spiritual content, will eventually burn out and die. But creators of content will thrive.
Creators are the ones who turn their prayer closet into a spring for other hungry souls.
They tell others how good God is. They taste and tell. They taste some more and they tell some more. From their belly, as Jesus said, flows a river of living (not stale, dead or boring) water!
Keep the fire burning,
Sources: *www.gotquestions.org; **The Tech-wise Family, Andy Crouch;
with Danny & Daniela Kovacs
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