We who are Christians often talk about walking with Jesus daily, moment-by-moment. I remember thinking my experience through grief was better described as “stumbling with Jesus.” I was paralyzed.
I experienced spiritual paralysis. Early on, I could hardly put words together in a coherent private prayer. Focus eluded me. There was more stumbling and stammering than walking with God. I could hardly read my Bible, or anything else for any length of time.
“On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.” Psalms 138:3
In some ways, I was thrust into a crisis in my faith. My faith, while shaken, stood upon a firm foundation. Trustworthy. I simply needed to press through the darkness, the mist, the fog, the confusion, and the paralysis. Later, I thought of this sense of paralysis as I was singing a song, King of My Heart, by John Mark McMillan. He refers to Jesus as “…the anchor in the waves…” Rend Collective calls Jesus “…a harbor in every tempest…” in their song, No Outsiders. So true.
One lesson I learned was loss—especially when in shock—is one example where Romans 8:26 comes to vibrant life. When in spiritual paralysis and unable to respond or even pray coherently, we find that “…the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” I drew comfort to know the Spirit was interceding for me with groanings.
Even in spiritual paralysis, I had to make some decisions. I had to refuse to let the paralysis—the circumstances—become a compass for my journey. The fears and sorrows do not dictate or undermine the foundation of my faith. I was reminded by Rend Collective’s song, True North, that I had to place my feet on the solid foundation:
“I will not let the darkness steal the joy within my soul. I will not let my circumstance become my compass, no I will not let the fears of life and sorrows of this world dictate to me how I should feel, for You are my true north.”
Additionally, I am a part of a community which would play a crucial role in my support and guidance through paralysis. My family, local church, and broader Christian community were important—and present. I’m speaking primarily of those people I know. But then there are those I don’t know personally, but they have ministered in ways that help me in my healing. The song of musicians and the books of authors have been a part of the fabric of my healing. Add to these the words of Scripture, and I have found groanings were provided for me to cry out to God to begin to recover from spiritual paralysis.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12
While pain and grief continued unabated, paralysis began to subside. Eventually, focus returned, and a new level of conversational prayer emerged. Spontaneous worship returned. Awe revisited me like never experienced before.
If you’re facing loss, expect spiritual paralysis. And endure it without losing heart.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18