So there’s this thing called homeostasis. You learned about it in 5th grade physical science, but let’s review. Homeostasis is the process that your body uses to counteract a change that happens within your body. A simple example: if you walk into a cold room, say around 55°F, your body temperature (98°) will drop (to around 95°) and you will get cold and start to shiver. But, as soon as your body realizes there was a change, the homeostasis process kicks in and raises your body temperature back up to almost normal (97°). Almost normal. This is important later, but you can forget about it for now.
On an abstractly-related topic… As Christians, we’re constantly running through a cycle. We’re going to call it the biorythm of faith. This biorythm isn’t identical for every person, obviously, but the biorythm of faith is pretty universal on a really basic level. Excuse my elementary phrasing, but I don’t want to take away from the actual point. At some period in each of our lives, we’re good with God. We’re reading our Bibles and going to church and serving and loving and everything is good. That’s the first stage in the biorythm. The next stage is some sort of realization. It may be preceded by something such as a dramatic event, a conversation with a friend, or a spontaneous self-epiphany. Either way, we realize that we are caught in some sort of sin. The third stage is doubt. We are angry at ourselves, at others, and at God, and in this moment of weakness we doubt God’s goodness and His sovereignty. After the stage of doubt, we move into the stage of seeking forgiveness. We finally realize that we need God to heal us and forgive us of our sin, so we humbly admit our sins and mistakes and seek the Lord’s guidance and forgiveness. And then the final stage is also simultaneously the first stage (hence it being a cycle), which brings us back to being good with God.
(To understand more about this cycle you can refer to the image and writings in one of my previous posts.)
Cool, back to homeostasis. Let’s go just a little bit deeper into the physiology of homeostasis (just a little bit deeper, don’t worry). I’ve included a simple image below to help you visualize the process I’m about to explain. So, remember how I said that your temperature would almost go back to normal? Good- this is where it matters. The reason that your temperature would not go all the way back to normal is this: if it went back to 98°, then the homeostatic process would just shut off. If this homeostatic process were to just shut off and you were still in this cold room, then your temperature would begin to drop again. And then when your body realized your temperature had dropped, homeostasis would kick back in, bringing your temperature back to normal, and then shut off again. And it would just be this constant turn on-turn off process. But that wouldn’t be very efficient. So instead, homeostasis only brings your temperature back up almost to normal, that way the homeostaic process doesn’t stop. This small gap between what your normal temperature is (98°) and the temperature homeostasis stays constant at (97°) is called the error signal.
[The orange line represents body temperature]
What does this have to do with the faith biorythm thing? It’s a little abstract, so stick with me here.
For the last month or so, I was stuck. I was stuck on the bottom part of this biorythm of faith. I was doubting God’s goodness and doubting his plan for my life. In this, I became bitter and angry and I couldn’t quite seem to get back on track in my love and pursuit of Christ. Now, I’m on the other side of this doubt and I have sought the Lord’s forgiveness in both the sin of my actions and the sin of my heart. My relationship, to use the phrasing of the cycle, is good with God. I’m seeking Him daily and I’m continuing to learn of His love and grace in my life.
But even in the midst of a good relationship with God, I’m struggling. I’m struggling to love others and have joy. And for the last few days the enemy has been attacking this. I was so distraught that even in a time where I feel like I am in a good place with the Lord, things in my life are still really messy. The enemy told me that this wasn’t okay. If I was truly “good with God,” then I wouldn’t be so hopeless. The enemy convinced me that I couldn’t be striving in my relationship with God because relationships with my friends are broken. He convinced me that if I was “good with God,” then I wouldn’t do this or that or struggle in this area or another area. This is where my thoughts were, but then the Lord showed me the error signal.
Your temperature declines and returns almost to normal, so that homeostasis keeps working. In the same way, you have to decline to the bottom of the biorythm so that you can be brought back up almost to the top. I say “almost” because when we’re at the top of the biorythm, we’re still not perfect. God never said, “When you accept me, your life will be perfect and easy.” That’s called the prosperity gospel and that’s a whole different blog post. We don’t have to be perfect to maintain a relationship with God. We are imperfect people and God knows this as such, which is why He created for us the error signal of faith.
In homeostasis, if you’re in a cold room, your temperature will drop. If homeostasis kicked in and brought your temperature all the way back to normal, homeostasis would shut off because it would no longer be needed. In the same way, if we sought forgiveness and were thriving in our relationship with God and were simultaneously without problems; if we were all the way good, Christ would no longer be needed.
This biorythm is so critical in our faith. We have to sin so that we have a need for Christ. And even in the moments where you are serving the Lord and full of his joy and peace and love and hope, there will still be moments where you fail. But it is okay because the Lord accounted for that failure in you, and that’s why he created the error signal of faith. So that even in the blissful periods of life we are in constant need of Christ’s death on the cross, which makes right our wrongs and upholds our salvation forever.