Have You Heard about “the Doldrums”?
There’s something amazing about feeling a warm ocean breeze across your face from the deck of a ship. And watching the wind fill a giant piece of canvas, tilting that large sail in a way that both powers and directs the vessel, is even more incredible. Before the age of motorized boats, sailors relied on these trade winds to carry them across the ocean.
However, all mariners knew about one area that was to be avoided at all costs: the Doldrums. Taken from the root word meaning “dull” or “lifeless,” the expression “in the doldrums” was used to describe the state of being bored and restless, in a slump. Sailors then gave this name to a specific region along the equator where the weather always seemed to illustrate this lifeless condition—where the air mass just hovered overhead, keeping these sailing ships stuck in place.
It’s not surprising then, that the Doldrums were once feared more than the Bermuda Triangle. Many ships became trapped in the dead zone, forced to endure grueling storms until they wrecked. Sailors would try everything they knew to do to get the ship sailing again, but nothing worked. They were stuck, sometimes permanently.
I think most of us can relate to being in the doldrums. You may know what you’re supposed to do in life, you may even know where you want to go, but you are stuck in this zone where there’s no wind, no breath, no life, nothing to help motivate you and move you along. Maybe you’re going through a storm and doing all you can just to stay afloat. Maybe it’s been a long time since you’ve been fired up about anything. Maybe you’re in a rut and don’t know how to move forward.
The problem is that, when the storm winds are blowing and life gets hard, most of us don’t run to God for shelter and protection—we run from him, right into the eye of the storm. Maybe we feel like we’ve done something wrong and therefore stay away from God, afraid he’ll punish us more. Or we feel like God should have prevented the trials we’re going through. Or maybe we find we’re just too lukewarm about God—we don’t want to go to hell, but yet we don’t really want to serve God, either. So we drift away and get stuck in the doldrums.
If you find yourself in the doldrums today, I encourage you to invite God to come alongside you and begin to revitalize you with his healing wind. I am convinced that if you pursue God, you’ll discover a passion and zeal for living while enjoying every dimension of your life like never before. And be encouraged: as painful as the doldrums are, God is able to use this stuck place to do great work in your life.