How Should Christians Respond to Feeling ‘Stuck’ in Life?
By Sophia Bricker, Crosswalk.com
Numerous articles and books exist that advise people about what to do when they feel stuck in life. In browsing these resources, people can easily find motivational, self-help messages.
However, these articles and books commonly leave out the God of the Bible. They assume that humans can achieve happiness and contentment through their efforts and ability to change their circumstances.
Although Christians may find some helpful tips from such resources, their response to feeling stuck in life should be different from those who do not know Christ. Sometimes in life, we will feel stuck, as if nothing is changing or going our way.
Our contentment and joy, though, do not come from our circumstances but from Christ. Furthermore, God is still working despite the way we feel.
Instead of trusting in our human effort to accomplish what we think we want in life, Christians need to keep their focus on Jesus and live in faithful obedience to Him.
Remember That God Is Still Working
When a person feels stuck in their current situation, they commonly fixate on the lack of change in their life and that they are not moving forward as they hope.
Christians are not immune to such feelings. In these times, we can easily forget about God and what the Bible says about our situation.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus said that “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:17). God is always working to fulfill His perfect will and plan.
Even in the times when we do not understand or see what He is doing, we can trust that He is working in our situation for our good (Romans 8:28). This truth does not change, even if our feelings tell us otherwise.
In the Bible, we can read about people who were in confining circumstances. For instance, Joseph was imprisoned for years because of false charges (Genesis 39:19-20). He could have easily felt “stuck” since he was physically restricted in one location.
However, Scripture tells us that God was with Joseph, preparing him for his future duties as the head of Egypt (Genesis 39:21-22). Later, upon reflection, Joseph recognized the Lord’s work in his life (see Genesis 45:7-8).
Likewise, Paul was imprisoned in Rome, under house arrest, for two years (Acts 28:16). Again, he could have given in to feelings of discouragement. Instead, he faithfully proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ (Acts 28:30-31).
God used Paul’s faithful obedience to bring salvation to many people. We can also trust our Lord and Savior even as we deal with negative situations and emotions.
Recognize That Feelings Change
In the Bible, we can read about various emotions, including sorrow (Psalm 119:28), fear (Psalm 55:4-5), anger (Psalm 109), and depression (Psalm 43). Our feelings matter to God, but we should not base truth on emotions.
Feelings fluctuate constantly and are not reliable sources. Instead of allowing feelings of being stuck in life to guide our reactions and decisions, we need to follow the unchanging truth of Scripture.
If there is something in your life that needs to change, then study and meditate on God’s Word. Talk to God about how you feel stuck and frustrated in your present circumstance, pouring your heart out to Him.
We can bring our problems to Him because He cares about us (1 Peter 5:7). Let the Lord guide you and instruct you in the way to go instead of following the whim of a feeling (Psalm 32:8; Proverbs 3:5-6).
Furthermore, we must also recognize that people can feel “stuck” for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a person may have depression, another mental health issue, or a physical health problem that causes them to feel hopeless about their present circumstances.
If this is the case, then seeking proper medical help and counseling can assist you in finding relief and hope for the future.
Replace Human Striving with Faithful Obedience
Often, when discussing how to stop feeling stuck, self-help articles and books will recommend people take steps toward change.
While intentionally making life changes is positive, Christians must ensure they are seeking to obey the Lord.
Taking steps to actively follow Christ will help believers grow in their faith even as they deal with negative emotions.
Jesus told His disciples that if they loved Him, they would keep His commands (John 14:15). He calls us to faithful obedience, not a life focused on manipulating events to make us comfortable (Matthew 16:24).
When we feel trapped in a circumstance, we may automatically try and find a way out. However, we need to stop and ask ourselves: “What does God want me to do in this situation? How can I obey Him?”
The Lord may use a season of being “stuck” to help us grow by following Him despite the uncomfortable feelings. Scripture never promises us an easy life or one of constant excitement and happiness.
Often, our faith will grow the most in difficult seasons, which is why the Bible describes the process of growing in faith as a refining process (1 Peter 1:7; James 1:2-4).
Therefore, we need to stop and consider how Jesus could use a season of waiting to grow our faith. Making positive changes is helpful, but we should also take steps to obey the Lord. As believers, we are called to follow our Savior.
Instead of trying to manufacture your own desired will in your current season of feeling stuck, consider the ways you can actively obey God, seeking to bring honor to Him (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17).
Refocus on Christ
Finally, when we are discontent with our lives, hoping for things to move forward and to get better, we need to remember that our joy comes from Christ. He gives us enduring peace, which the world cannot promise (John 14:27).
Scripture tells us that the world and everything in it will pass away, which means it cannot give us lasting happiness (1 John 2:17). Hence, finding our contentment and joy in anything other than our relationship with the Savior is foolish.
If we focus on human relationships, opportunities, or items that we do not have, then we will only feel more trapped in our circumstances. We need to keep our focus solidly on Christ.
As Hebrews 12:2 reminds us, “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God's throne” (GNT).
We will experience seasons of waiting where we feel as if we are going nowhere. However, when we focus on Jesus and what He did for us, we can persevere in life (Hebrews 12:1-3). Let us turn our eyes back to our Savior and stop focusing on our frustrations and feelings.
What Does This Mean?
People’s lives are constantly changing. Just because someone feels stuck now does not mean that they will always remain in their current situation. As believers, we need to base our contentment and hope is something more reliable and solid than fluctuating circumstances and emotions.
When we feel stuck, we can find hope and joy in Jesus. He is working in our lives even if we do not understand or “feel” what He is doing.
Instead of trying to control events and create a future we think will make us happy, we need to faithfully obey the Lord. He has a plan for our lives, and we can trust Him in the process. Let us focus on Christ, not on the fears, worries, or desires that overwhelm us.
For further reading:
How Do I Know When God Is Calling Me to Wait?
When Do We Step Out in Faith and When Do We Wait on the Lord?
How Can I Tell if God Is Closing a Door?
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/klenova
Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.