By Timothy W. Tron July, 2020
The feeling of being stuck in the doldrums has slowly washed over me lately.
My body floated in the water effortlessly. Like a being upon the sea, only the clear blue morning skies above. Here and there were wisps of clouds barely enough moisture to collect to form a whiteness, yet they were there. It was as if time had stopped. My mind drifted to those ancient mariners who relied on the ocean winds to propel their sailing ships. A calm day was not a blessing. A robust sea with gathering storm clouds and gusts of ocean spray were signs of life.
Likewise, our walk-in faith is like those ancient sailing vessels. When we are facing a headwind, we know we are going in the right direction. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” As the Apostle Paul would remind us, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” It is when the winds cease, those opposing forces suddenly stop, that we should be concerned. For it is then, when you are no longer finding the world against you, that you should take stock and see if you are not going along with the whims and will of the evils that surround you. “And be not conformed to this world:..” “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”
Floating there in the pool, my mind’s eye could see the glistening mirrors of glass surrounding their vessel as the sun beat down on them like a mighty drum. This absolute stillness was their valley of death. The very breath of life hung in the balance. The maritime sailors of old, even in their mighty sailing ships, were at the mercy of the prevailing winds. It was as if without the hand of God pushing them, they were helpless. Their vessels might sit for days or even weeks in the area known today as the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). It stretches from 5 degrees above to 5 degrees below the equator. As the broiling heat beat down upon them, their sails hung limp, lifeless – mirroring the direction their lives seemed to be heading.
When there is nothing to occupy the mind, it becomes like a fertile field where our sinful fleshly desires and thoughts begin to take root. We’ve all heard the phrase, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.” It is here, in the empty void of life that our wanton, wayward thoughts begin to fill the space where once an occupation, a job, or a study once filled. The news media, if we allow it, is happy to provide us more than enough constant chatter to overwhelm even the most ardent theologian. Then there is the social media, where a thread of distrust can become the next great conspiracy to add to the overflowing closet of skeletons in our mind. Those empty, lifeless ocean experiences were not only deadly because of the physical limitations. Here where the mind became one’s worst enemy, the mutinies were formed and men began to doubt not only themselves but their creator as well.
One description held by nautical experts is as follows, “Doldrums holds a distinct place in maritime history, having developed a reputation as a potentially deadly zone which could strand ships for weeks on end, causing them to run out of food and drinking water. In those days, with supplies running low, and scurvy setting in, delirium, starvation, and cabin fever could all set in – and getting through this mysterious patch of Atlantic Ocean quickly wasn’t just a matter of first or last place, but life and death.”
Today, we seem to be in a similar predicament. Many of your friends, neighbors, and even family are facing perils that remain hidden until it’s too late. The isolation created by this perceived pandemic has in a sense, made us all drift into the doldrums – some say, the effect being more deadly than the cause. The ship in our world can take on various forms: our country, our daily lives, and even our soul.
Our nation has become mired in turmoil and panic, held captive by those that want to seemingly halt our way of life using the foil of a pandemic with which to incite fear – cause it to stall until the point it falters, and some might even say, fail. In this epic of ever-growing restrictions and confinements, the feeling of being held captive in our own society begins to seep into our psyche. With each growing day, we find a new restriction dictated by “science” forcing us to obey or else. We find fear beginning to seep into the most educated minds to the point they seem consumed to follow the rules, whereas; heretofore, they were some of the most liberal types seeking rebellion of societal norms at every turn. Those that are held in esteemed positions begin to spread the fear in their implication of pursuing the “science” while disregarding those who might find a different mindset all together; one of fearing not. For many, they do not know what it is to find comfort in the arms of a Savior. Their lives, like so many who remain lost until the day of judgment, find themselves glued to the media, like a junkie waiting for the next hit, looking for the next “aha sound bite” that will send shockwaves through our culture, sending yet another wave of fear over our nation.
It is in these moments of doom and gloom we should seek the calm and peacefulness of the Comforter, the Word of God. Sadly, many find the darkness growing stronger rather than the day of jubilation when Christ’s return sounds the final trumpet. The torment permeates their being until it becomes real.
The dread doesn’t stop there, at the curb of society, rather it penetrates our very nature.
The imposed isolation has revealed cracks in even the most perceived solid of relationships. Some may feel that they are trapped in marriages whereby they have no recourse. For whatever reason, the days of intimacy have evaporated like those prevailing winds on the ocean. They quit counting the days of quarantine – the novelty lost at sea. Now, their relationship is distant, cold, and anything but bliss. For some, these are the “worse” parts of the vow. Unrelenting to yield to divorce, praying that God will find a way to replace their spouse’s heart of stone, they remain – trapped and disheartened – their life has become nothing more than a dead sea, upon which no breath of wind dare cast a ripple of hope.
Afflictions of the flesh can come in all shapes and sizes – drugs, alcohol, or sex. Each person has their own inner struggles. Once, when there was a society of normalcy, one might compare their daily grind to others. Yet, now, kept to themselves, the questions begin to creep inside the dark confines of the heart. The darkness feeds upon these. Allowed to grow, they become more than thoughts. They begin to manifest themselves into actions that might otherwise have abated had the flow of life been allow to continue. It is in the trials that we discover who we really are. For those without faith, it is as if all hope is lost. If we allow Satan to enter in, giving in to temptations, we deepen the despair by which those afflictions feed – like sharks circling our languishing ship, watching, waiting to whom they may devour, so is the devil.
Others find that their spiritual lives have become stagnate as if God is not listening. They pray and seek Him day after day, but it’s as if they’ve been abandoned. What they miss is from where they are praying. Rather than fully relying on God, they are seeking help from the very thing that they have given into, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
When there is no answer we must wait. Yet, there is learning in the waiting. While we seek immediate answers, God’s timing is not our own. In the trials and tribulations, we are made stronger in our faith, whether we like it or not. It is much like when a baby chick is born. When it first begins to pip out of the shell, it is difficult to sit and watch. When you can’t take it any longer and begin to help the newborn by pulling the shell away. You suddenly find a wet, damp miserable little creature. Although your instinct was to simply help, part of the birthing process is to make it struggle through the shell which creates the muscles that it will need later to survive. Meanwhile, the chick you just “saved” begins to weaken, and in most cases, will die from fatigue for lack of muscle tissue. If we are left to never struggle in life, our spiritual muscle will become atrophied to the point, it is unable to support our being – it is then we too find a spiritual weakening unto the point of death.
When mankind faces the end, as in being distraught within the doldrums, it is then most often they finally seek God – when it is too late. Life passes before one’s eye in the blink of an eye. While an eternity may seem to pass when the flesh is suffering, it is a mere momentary heartbeat when the end arrives. The once seemingly immortality of youth gives way to the reality of age, and with it, time begins to race. As the heart yearns for those days of youth, that are gone forever, it is then too late many realize their choices were in vain. The rust and tarnished life has led them only to a bitter end to where they cannot escape. It is then they realize, their doldrums began long before any pandemic started.
Yet, we can find hope beyond the ITCZ, and this time of COVID.
Our hope is in the one that gives us spiritual strength. Our hope is in the one that gives light to the darkness. Our hope is in the one that can free us from all earthly desires and shackles of the flesh. Yes, our hope is in Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Savior.
Where once there was delirium and despair, there can be life once more. The breath of life, the winds of change are coming and soon, the trumpet will sound. Soon the creaking of the ancient ship’s masts will begin to bend under the gales that will take us to that far distant shore.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you…”
Thanks be to God.
 Psalms 34:19 KJV
 1 Peter 4:12-13 KJV
 Romans 12:2 KJV
 1 Peter 5:8 KJV
 James 4:3 KJV
 Matthew 7:7 KJV