There’s been a nasty flu bug wreaking havoc in the sleepy lands of Kitsap.  It has the destructive power to turn your best day into your worst nightmare.  Death and devastation are free-flowing with no end in sight — for 24 hours.  Then you feel as good as new and you look slimmer than ever, so there’s a silver lining I guess!  But how do you know if you’re really sick?  There’s some kind of a sign, like a fever, usually.  

That works great for the body, but have we ever considered that our SOULS may have the tell-tale signs of a fever as well?  Could it be that our souls have been trying to let us know they’re sick and need attention, but we haven’t been taught to listen to the signs?  

Do you find yourself up in the middle of the night a lot?  Or, are you having conversations with people (and winning them) but you’re the only one in the car?  Do you keep telling yourself you “should be” doing this, or you “have to” keep doing that.  However, deep down you really don’t care.  Wouldn’t it be great if your boss asked you to take a nap and everyone brought you birthday cake and you got to eat all of it with no feeling of judgment?  

Honestly, these are all signs of a sick soul — kind of — just like when the body gets an infection and you experience fever, nausea, loss of appetite, greater need for sleep, chills, etc.  The soul has its own symptoms of soul infection.  Here they are:

Your SLEEP gets disrupted, and you no longer have steady sleep patterns.

Your INTERESTS start to become less interesting.  What you loved you just don’t really care about doing anymore.

You experience a lot of GUILT.  Life seems to be driven more by obligation than passion or enjoyment. There’s even a robust amount of shame in the back of your mind.  

Your ENERGY levels fluctuate unpredictably.  You tire out easily or have unexpected bursts of energy.

Mentally, your CONCENTRATION game is struggling, and you find yourself having trouble focusing.

Your APPETITES start to change, and this is a big one because you are self-medicating.  Only, you don’t realize you’re medicating.  You just see that you’re struggling with temptation and self-control.  What you would never do before seems to become common place.  One drink becomes seven. You pick up smoking again.  Meth?  Usually no, but this week it sounds good.  Your cell phone has become a porn machine.  You took a day off to stream several seasons of Sesame Street.  Or you somehow never reach your fill of Sour Patch Kids (don’t judge me).  This is where many Christians find themselves without realizing why.  They just see that they’re delving into sin, but they don’t understand that it’s because their soul is sick.  So they throw the cigarettes away and switch to a different form of excess.  And the shame multiplies exponentially.  

PHYSICALLY, you find yourself more clumsy, lazy, or forgetful.  You try to play it off as age, but you’re 24.  

Finally, people begin to contemplate SUICIDE.  But the way they contemplate it is not how many would assume it is thought about.   It’s framed as kindness for others, like:  “It would be better for everyone if I… .” All of these symptoms are serious.  However, I would add that this one is EXTREMELY serious.  If you’re thinking things like this, reach out to me!  Don’t keep going at it alone.  Your soul is sick and it needs treatment.  The church community is here to love, support, and help.  

So, what do we do if we see some symptoms in our lives?  How do we heal?  The symptoms won’t just go away like we hope, until we deal with them.  In fact, these issues seem to hang on and create more illness in our souls the longer we leave them untreated.  And, both PRESSURE and HOPELESSNESS seem to fuel the fever.  So we’ve got to handle these things.  Look at Elijah’s breakdown in 1 Kings 19.  There were some things God told him to do when his soul got sick and he started displaying many of the symptoms I’ve listed above.  

He needed (and we need):

Rest – God put him to sleep.  You need it too.  If it’s a struggle, there’s a lot you can do to make it a priority.

Nutrition – Literally, birds and angels brought him food!  It had to be good!  We need the good stuff too.  
No more Sour Patch Kids!

Exercise – Your body is connected to your soul and mind.  If it gets unhealthy, it will affect the other parts. Take a walk.  Climb the stairs.  Run the marathon.  Lift the weights.  Whatever you need to do, take care of the body God gave you.  

Spirituality – We need Jesus just like we need breathing.  And even if we don’t think about breathing, we don’t stop breathing.  Treat your spirituality the same way.  Read your Bible, even when it’s difficult.  Pray, even when it seems fruitless.  Listen.  Let the Holy Spirit speak to you and encourage your soul.  

And this is so important:  find the ISSUE causing the infection and deal with it.  If you were hurt, you need to forgive and heal.  If you’re walking through a divorce, you’ve got to process the pain.  If it’s a dream that has died, it deserves your attention.  If a relationship has ended, don’t just move on, but probe the pain and grow from it.  

I got sick right before Easter a few years ago, and I ignored the symptoms and forced myself to tough it out.  I thought I was being awesome, but it was a miserable disaster.  I ended up getting really, really sick on one of the most important weekends for the church.  I wasn’t at my best because I refused to pay attention to my symptoms (and my wife) and get rest.  If you see these symptoms in your life, take the time to work through the steps of treatment and healing.  It will be like Alka-Seltzer to your soul, and you’ll be back to Loving Jesus, Loving People, and Loving Life before you know it!

Meet Brian Compton

Brian has been at his dream job of lead pastor at Hillcrest Church in Bremerton, WA since 2013. Together with the love of his life, Andrea, they have two children and one dog. Brian loves spending time with his family, Netflix, carbs, CrossFit, and moderate outdoorsy stuff.

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