It’s the Season of Spiritual Poverty

Not a Good Dream

I dreamed it again last night. We were with good friends gathered around a big cafeteria-style table in a restaurant.

And then I realize: None of us are masked! Oh no!

In my dream, I remind myself it’s been almost a year since we’ve eaten inside a restaurant (true). And we’re blowing it now?

I find Jeff at the counter and say, “Get our food to go. We’re eating outside.”

I wake up.

Digging In

Will these dreams about face coverings go away once the pandemic is under control and we’re not wearing masks everywhere?

The middle-of-the-night worries are still the worst. That’s when I think my craziest thoughts.

I’ve been filling in a workbook on anxiety the past few months. It asks me lots of personal questions that require me to dig and dig.

For answers, I often look to my nighttime worries. They are samples of my irrational worries. In the light of the morning, I can rationalize them away.

But still. I know they’re there. I need to confront them. Looking for the ugly isn’t a fun endeavor.

But if it serves a good purpose, I’ll entertain the idea.

Mourning Causes You to Cry Out

That’s what Paul David Tripp is inviting us into in his 40-day Lenten devotional, Journey to the Cross.

Tripp says,

“Mourning does something wonderful to you. The sad realities that cause you to mourn also cause you to cry out for the help, rescue, forgiveness, and deliverance of a Redeemer. Jesus said that if you mourn, you will be comforted.”

Well, if you put it that way, it sounds good. Who doesn’t want help, rescue, forgiveness, and deliverance? Sign me up for comfort.

I want all the blessings God wants to give me.

Journey to the Cross

Avoid Spiritual Envy

But Tripp also reminds us that we don’t need to compare our blessings with others’ blessings. 

For instance,

“We tend to esteem the spiritually rich as well. These are people who we think have risen above the normal things that we all tend to struggle with, who seem somehow to be easily and independently righteous and just don’t seem to require God’s rescue much.”

It’s easy to fall into spiritual envy. To be jealous of those who don’t have the same weaknesses that we do. Who don’t worry. Who don’t know what anxiety is.

But we all have something we struggle with. Maybe my struggles and your struggles are different, but we both need Jesus. We both benefit by sitting near the shadow of the cross to find true goodness and deliverance and love.

This journey to the cross may seem discouraging when it prompts us to see our crazy thoughts and our repetitive failings. But it is also joyful when we encounter Jesus along the way and he renews our hope again.

This Is a Season

In real life, I haven’t yet forgotten to put my mask on wherever I go. It’s no big deal anymore. Hopefully my nighttime dreams about it will fade away soon.

Because this pandemic is a season. Just a season. And like the season of Lent, it “forces us to face and to answer [questions] because Lent isn’t for the rich; it is for those who are poor.”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).

Facing our spiritual poverty is never fun. But it’s profitable. During Lent, let’s journey to the cross to find Christ’s riches.

Let it be. I accept my poverty. And I welcome his kingdom through it.

My thanks to Crossway for
the review copy of this book

19 thoughts on “It’s the Season of Spiritual Poverty

  1. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Lisa, this is a wonderful, thoughtful, deep post. I know it’s a confirmation of where God is taking me (and frankly, where He has been bidding me for ages): spiritual poverty and mourning over my sins. Another word for that? Repentance. I have benefitted GREATLY from listening to Scottish pastor and author Colin Smith. Have you heard him or read his work? His radio program, “Unlocking the Bible,” is now airing in Saint Louis, both through the week and on weekends (different programming, each, so you’re exposed to more of his preaching), and I cannot recommend it enough! I made a donation and received a book called The Hidden Path to a Transformed Life, which is about the joy of repentance (as an ongoing way of life). I have also listened to his sermon series on this same topic and another series about the Beatitudes. It may be called Momentum, by the same title of his book. Smith explains how many people feel that living out the Beatitudes is nearly impossible without understanding the nature of knowing how each Beatitude builds on the next. But when we sin, we go to that starting place: realizing our deep spiritual poverty. We need His help to overcome. I am explaining this ABYSMALLY!!! Truly! Read his work! Hear his sermons. You will be blessed, especially during this season where we focus with gratitude on the Cross and the joy of our salvation, which is a result of coming to the Cross.
    PS I so appreciated your Bias series. I was not able to sit here much and comment, but I absorbed, agreed, and appreciated it adn all your hard work on it.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re always a wealth of information, Lynn! I love that you share your good finds. I haven’t heard of Colin Smith, but I’m definitely going to look him up now. Repentance is a yucky topic for us, isn’t it? But without it, I can’t even imagine how much worse the world would be! Thank you, friend, for sharing your insights too. I always give them close attention because I know they’ll be beneficial for me too!

      1. Lynn D. Morrissey

        I’m a mess, Lisa, but relieved you put up w/ me, *mercifully*!! Admittedly, I’m not as fond of the series he is on now (done as a drama from thief on the cross’s perspective), but here is a link to the broadcasts. I loved “Blessed Are Those Who Mourn,” “Getting on the Road to Recovery (Repentance),”Blessed Are Those Who Mourn,” (I think this should all be part of the Momentum series on Beatitude, but I can’t find it by series name) & go to Jan. 4, “The Man Who Could Not Repent, pt. 1” & work from the bottom up the list of broadcasts . . . it’s about the joy of repentance, and its progression–how the more you know about God, the more sinful you realize you are, the more you repent and the more joy in the Lord you will have as He sanctifies you, forgives you, relieves you from the weight of sin, & sets you free. I can’t see sermons under an umbrella topic so it feels a little confusing to me re: the series of sermons I have listened to. You can always call the ministry for clarification. But it is changing how I approach God, not dreading seeing all my sin, but knowing more of His majesty and kindness, to know God is actually drawing me closer, and that I can experience more of His love and grace. Not explaining it well. Anyway, go here:

  2. Joanne

    What is it about night that seems to bring out our anxieties?? I love a night when I can sleep straight through without fear or worrying about anything but I feel like that happens less often than I’d like.

  3. Aritha

    Thank you so much. That is a wonderful thought. I am glad with it. The first step to flourishing in any spiritual season is recognizing which one you’re in. I think this season (covid-19) is my waiting season.

  4. Joanne Viola

    Lisa, this is such a wonderful post. It is amazing how the night time seems to bring out our worries, and magnifies them too. May I remember that this is a season, it will pass, and it will be profitable as I see it in the light of the Cross.

  5. ~ linda

    May the Cross, the feet of Jesus, the Word of God be where I go to repent, to release, to mourn my sin. And then may I see His Light and know that I am in the Presence of God Who created me and loves me and forgives me. Oh, I feel so blessed. Thanks for sharing this book with us.

  6. Theresa Boedeker

    We often don’t like to think of ourselves as poor in spirit, but we are. And knowing that God has the answers; he will forgive us, rescue us and deliver us is so positive. It is making me see the positives of being poor in spirit.

  7. Calvonia

    I have a loved one who is struggling with loss of sleep and bad dreams. I think the workbook you mentioned would be helpful to her. Do you mind giving me the name of the resource?

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I don’t mind at all. It is “The Anxiety and Worry Workbook: The Cognitive Behavioral Solution” by David Clark and Aaron Beck. It came recommended by a couple of counselors so I trust it to be a good one. Praying for your loved one, Calvonia!

  8. Elaine

    What a wonderful reminder that this is just a season & that Jesus is with us at every single step.
    (And I’ve had similar mask/no-mask dreams! Glad to hear I’m not the only one!)

  9. Bev Rihtarchik

    I seem to have some repeat dreams as well. I suppose it’s our uber-conscience at work? It’s easy to gaze around and think that others have their spiritual act together and you’re the only one struggling. Comparison, I’ve learned, is always a losing battle. I think we’ve all be in a season of struggle and poverty and the manifestations come out in many different ways. We’re human and we just need to keep bringing our nasty fears back to the foot of the cross.
    Bev xx

  10. Jean Wise

    As I age I am learning to name and sit with emotions like spiritual poverty and listen to its lessons. I used to quickly set it aside, or run from it. I can actually remember the first time I heard that phrase used and shuddered at its thought. Now I say hello what am I being invited to learn here? Great post to get me pondering today, Lisa . Thank you

  11. Anita Ojeda

    It’s funny how quickly we adopt things (like mask-wearing), isn’t it? We have one more day of social-distancting/mask-wearing at school–and then we get to settle in to our bubble for the next three months :). It’s disconcerting to not know what your students really look like until the second week of school!

  12. Lois Flowers

    Aw, Lisa … I’m so sorry that mask-wearing (or not) has invaded your dreams! This sounds like a wonderful book. I haven’t read anything else by Paul David Tripp, but I do remember that he was featured in the videos I saw at my GriefShare class, and his insights were always very helpful. You’re right … we all have something we struggle with, and we all need Jesus! Hugs, friend.

  13. Laurie

    I am a crazy middle-of-the-night worrier too, Lisa. You are brave to faithfully fill out the pages of your anxiety workbook. My anxiety is better now than it was last fall, but maybe that is something I should look into. Digging usually makes us uncomfortable, but that’s when the growth happens. This Lenten devotional sounds wonderful. Not just for Lent, but for any time of year.

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