Expect and Endure Spiritual Paralysis

Expect and Endure Spiritual Paralysis

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.” Rend Collective, “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 songs 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


  1. Anonymous

    Thanks D.Ray. You are a year ahead of me…you offer hope in the journey. Jesus is my one solid, unmovable, and unchangeable foundation that holds me. I’ve been doing some of that “groaning” Paul wrote about in Romans 8, and that you have experienced. Sometimes I just sit and stare at nothing, but He is there and helps give me focus in the middle of it.

    • D. Ray

      Don’t give up. Press into it…expect it and endure it. It takes both to process it all. Expect it…AND endure it. Recovery gives birth to deeper spiritual insights and responsiveness to the goodness of God.

  2. Anonymous

    You have described the spiritual paralysis so well. Thanks for putting in writing what many of us have experienced. What an unexpected ministry the Lord has given you.

    Jennifer Mathewson Speer

    • D. Ray

      Jennifer, I have thought of your journey that included incredible shock. Now I understand it much better than I did then.

  3. Anonymous

    Sitting quietly was some of my best times to focus on who I could trust, My Jesus, family and friends. I’m enjoying thinking back 23?years and refocusing now with better clarity. Thanks DRay

    • D. Ray

      Thanks for your testimony of trust for these 23 years which gives many others hope for the journey ahead. Thank you!

  4. Anonymous

    Those who have loved well and have been loved well are forced to process and learn how to grieve well. And we must not forget it is painful, so very painful, and really can only be walked in the aloneness of our soul.., except that God is there in our pain. You are showing us so much how grief and love are a two sided coin and processing is the hand that holds the coin…the Father’s hand.

  5. Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing this description of the grief journey – paralysis, a word that’s difficult to say let alone admit. Although it has been several years since I began this uninvited experience, I am ambushed by paralysis every so often – less often now than eight years ago. I believe that those who are in Christian leadership have a difficult time facing that paralysis – we seem to have a “need” to stay strong. Yet, these moments of paralysis are the humbling points when I know from where my help comes – not from the mountains, not from my own strength, but from God who is my ever present help in trouble. He alone is my rock and my refuge.

    • D. Ray

      One reason I began sharing this journey is because I know I wasn’t equipped to even talk about loss before loss. I wrote in “Welcome to My Intense Schoolhouse—An Introduction” how I wanted us to talk about grief and loss… I suspected others are ill-equipped to discuss it. Talking about it—and facing it—is actually helpful. And embracing loss illustrates how powerful the gospel is in tough times.

  6. Anonymous

    Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us! You have penned so well the reality of what losing a spouse looks and feels like. Without the Gospel, my family, my friends. The Body of Christ, I can’t imagine facing such loss!

    • D. Ray

      Thanks for joining me. It’s daunting to share transparently, but I do not want to waste my painful journey. I’d rather invest it. Again, thanks for joining the journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *