A thick sheet of ice on the windshield of my van threatened to make me late for my doctor’s appointment the first week of December. I tried to hurry, but my arms felt like heavy blocks of ice themselves as I weakly chipped away at it with my little plastic scraper. After struggling to clear an opening large enough to see out of, I plopped into the driver’s seat, exhausted. All I wanted to do was take a nap!
What was wrong with me?
My question was answered within the hour when the doctor informed me that I was iron deficient. My next question was to ask if I could just correct this through diet or by taking a multi-vitamin, but she informed me that my levels were too low for that. More drastic measures were needed. So my daily routine now includes a little red tablet every morning and every night. After three months I will go back to have my ferritin levels rechecked to see if they have improved.
Before the ice scraping incident, I really didn’t have many other indications that I was anemic. According to the Mayo Clinic, initially anemia can be so mild it may go unnoticed. But signs and symptoms increase as anemia worsens and may include: fatigue, pale skin, a fast or irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, cognitive problems, cold hands and feet, and headache.
I believe a Christian can develop “spiritual anemia” from a lack of “iron” fortification from the Word of God. Initially spiritual anemia can be so mild it too may go unnoticed. But signs and symptoms increase as spiritual anemia worsens. These may include: spiritual apathy and fatigue, a lack of joy and vibrancy in one’s spiritual life, decreased passion for the things on God’s heart, diminished desire and energy to serve, difficulty thinking from a biblical perspective, and feelings of being stuck and unable to move forward.
If one or more of these describe your recent spiritual experience, you may be spiritually anemic. You might be wondering if this condition can be corrected by spending a few minutes each day reading a devotional book, watching sermons online or listening to the Christian radio while driving in your car. But that’s not going to cut it. What is needed is intensive iron supplementation.
1 Peter 2:2 tells us to “long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” Daily, consistent time receiving nourishment from God’s Word is essential to restoring spiritual strength. Pick a book of the Bible and read and meditate on a chapter each day. A few months ago when I realized my spiritual diet was deficient, I started reading through the book of Isaiah at night before I went to bed. Join a Bible study group or class, which can provide structure and encouragement for establishing a consistent time in the Word. Many churches begin new studies this time of year. In fact, I’m excited to start one at my church on the book of James in February!
Weak. Tired. Apathetic. Anemic. These words should not describe Christians. Simple tasks should not overwhelm us. Serving God should not exhaust us. Instead, we should be able to say with David, “For by You I can run upon a troop; And by my God I can leap over a wall!” (Psalm 18:29)
As we begin a new year, join me in praying that God will “strengthen, revive, and sustain us according to His Word.” (This prayer was taken from Psalm 119. The entire Psalm is about the spiritual benefits of the Word!) Commit to a daily intake of God’s Word. Then check back in three months and see if your spiritual vitality hasn’t greatly improved!