Fortify Against Spiritual Anemia
This past summer I gave birth to our precious son, Jack. Early in my pregnancy with him, I was diagnosed with anemia. In essence, this means a lack of iron, which isn’t uncommon in pregnancy. Although this was my fifth child, it was the first time I’d personally experienced it. I soon found out that anemia causes fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, racing heart, and other symptoms that make the already uncomfortable aspects of pregnancy significantly harder. And, not only does it feel awful, but if it gets too severe, it can put you in danger of premature labor and significant blood loss. Any way you look at it, it’s not good.
After weeks of trying to boost my iron levels through natural supplements, there was little improvement. So I found myself in the hematology department, propped in a comfy chair while iron dripped into my veins through an IV. And boy, did it make a difference! After a couple of infusions my heart rate slowed down, my energy levels went up, and although my son did end up coming early, it gave my body what it needed to bring him into the world safely.
I stared at a full bag of this much-needed fluid on one of these infusion visits, and it struck me that physical anemia is to the body what spiritual anemia is to the soul. When we lack spiritual iron, it can cause weakness and lethargy in mind and heart and an inability to persevere through life’s ups and downs.
Common symptoms of spiritual anemia can include:
A sluggish pursuit of God.
This might show up particularly in regard to the amount of time or fervor we spend in the Bible and in prayer.
Spiritual brain fog and the inability to discern between right and wrong.
We may find that we’re not quite as clear on what worldviews or messages are biblically sound and which ones aren’t. This causes us to begin questioning truth and sound doctrine.
Craving things that hinder our ability to absorb truth.
We might realize we’re devouring secular input far more than biblical input with things like movies, TV shows, books, music, or podcasts by the newest motivational speaker. These can hinder our appetite for truth when they become our primary “diet.”
Lack of perseverance when we face trials and tests of faith.
When hard things come, we want to throw in the towel, stop relying on Jesus, and begin to question whether a life spent in pursuit of God is worth the trouble.
If we allow these warning signs to go unchecked, it could cause us to be “ineffective and unfruitful” in our spiritual life. (See 2 Peter 1:8.) But praise God, we need not despair. In His mercy, the Lord makes us aware of the need to be strengthened and for spiritual iron to be infused into our souls. And He has given us — His followers — everything we need to be revitalized again and again for the road we are called to walk.
Here are three key ways we can go about supplementing our minds and hearts with all we need for the Christian life.
1. Pursue the Knowledge of God
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence…” (2 Pet. 1:3 ESV, emphasis added).
How do we have everything we need for life and godliness? By knowing God. When we truly know God, our trust in His power, love, and faithfulness are strengthened. And, as we grow in our knowledge of Him, we are less shaken by our circumstances and feelings, resting instead on what He has revealed to us about Himself through His Word.
But this pursuit of God must be an active, wholehearted one. God told the Israelites who had wandered from Him, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13 ESV). We need to continually, daily seek God — communing with Him through His Word and in prayer. We’re continually bombarded by lies that come from the world, the flesh, and the devil that seek to zap us of all spiritual strength. Therefore, we must be just as proactive to keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus.
Make time every day to meditate on Scripture. If it’s hard for you to sit down and read due to your circumstances, listen to an audio Bible while you wash dishes or fold laundry. Write verses on sticky notes and put them on the bathroom mirror or in your car. One of my favorite ways is to frame Scripture and put it in prominent places around my house so I will see it every day.
And pray! Pray before you open the Bible and after you put it down, asking God to help you understand and apply what you are reading. Pray when you’re driving, when you lie down, and when you wake up. Continual prayer reminds us that God is always present and always faithful.
A.W. Tozer says in his book The Pursuit of God, “You can see God from anywhere if your mind is set to love and obey Him.”
2. Obey God’s Word
As Christians, we are called to live in such a way that brings glory to God. But this way of life isn’t only for God’s glory, it’s also for our very best. God doesn’t require anything of His children that isn’t also for our utmost good. Because of this, we need to be serious about both knowing and obeying God.
Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (ESV).
Knowing God’s Word leads us to action. Proverbs 3:8 says that acknowledging God and turning from evil (i.e. obeying Him) are “healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones” (ESV). Doing what God commands brings us life.
Ask God to help you obey what He asks of His followers. Ask Him to help you recognize and act upon these commands right away, trusting His grace to enable you to do so.
3. Surround yourself with fellow believers
Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (ESV).
Although this isn’t speaking about iron that’s inside our bodies, it did strike me as applicable. Iron strengthens and sharpens itself, and this verse implies what we are to do when we’re gathered with other believers. We are called to do life together in order to encourage and strengthen each other as we run this race of life. We were never meant to do it alone. When we isolate ourselves from others, we end up cutting off a vital source of grace the Lord wants to use to enable us to persevere to the end.
In this age of internet and social media, it can be easy to only have relationships through digital means. But these still keep people at a distance. There is no way someone can fully enter into your life or vice versa through messaging or even FaceTime. We need face-to-face, purposeful interaction with others who love God and who love us.
Be active in a local Church body. Ask a few women if they would be interested to pray with you regularly, hold each other accountable to seeking the Lord, and confess sin when necessary. Allow them to warn you if they see you veering toward unsound doctrine.
Ultimately, our greatest necessity is to keep our eyes fixed on the prize that awaits us: Jesus. When we feel weak, when doubt creeps in, when our perseverance wanes, we need Him. He will enable us to endure until the end. As Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:14–21:
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith — that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (ESV).