Today is my last day of trying to define exile. In days to come I’ll look at what we learn in exile
and then ultimately, how to return from exile. Be patient. There is no quick fix to exile. It’s like a seed in the ground. It needs to suffer many days in the dark before something is birthed, grows, and bears fruit.
In the Bible, exile happens when people leave their country. But living in exile isn’t just about leaving your country. Exile can happen on a personal level when life throws you a curve and you end up in a place you never planned on being. Exile is a place of feeling displaced, disconnected, disillusioned, depressed, and full of doubt. There is no quick fix to exile. It’s like a seed in the ground. It needs to suffer many days in the dark before something is birthed, grows, and bears fruit.
There is no quick fix to exile. It’s like a seed in the ground. It needs to suffer many days in the dark before something is birthed, grows, and bears fruit.
Exile comes in many shapes and sizes. I’ve discussed five different types of exile before. This is a different way to slice it. Here are eights categories of exile that we experience:
- Emotional: Emotional issues can be a dark place. They include things like depression, PTSD, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, bipolar disorder and more. One commenter to this series said he struggled for years with addiction until he was diagnosed as bi-polar and medication delivered him from his addiction.
- Spiritual: A lot of people struggle seeking and finding God. For some it’s natural. For others, God is confusing and covered in clouds. Some have called it the “dark night of the soul.” Bad church experiences or bad encounters with “spiritual” people can add to this confusion/disillusionment.
- Relational: God created us to be relational beings. When our relationships break down or never happen to begin with, they can consume us. Divorce, estrangement from children/parents, death of a loved one, and bad marriages are to name just a few.
- Financial: Nothing consumes us quicker than the loss of income. It immediately grabs our attention and insists on controlling every waking thought.
- Career: We all long for purpose. We want our careers to match our purpose but it’s well known that 70% of people feel like they aren’t in the right place. Like marriage, we might feel like we are in exile as we look for the right fit, but once in a career, we might also feel like we are in exile and want to get out.
- Health: We take our health for granted until it leaves us. Wrestling with the inability to have children, chronic pain, or a terminal disease are just a few examples.
- Season of life: Transitions between seasons of life might seem minor but they often surprise us and leave us feeling out of sorts. When young people go to college, when parents experience the empty nest, the time between college and marriage and/or career, retirement and managing old age can all present exile experiences.
- Success: This might not be obvious but success can lead to a transition in life that you aren’t prepared for. I’ve experienced some ministry success that I didn’t anticipate. When I achieved results that went beyond what I ever imagined, I was disoriented for a number of months and even depressed. I achieved what I wanted and didn’t know what to do next. I lost my purpose for a season before getting refocused on the next phase of my life.
Can you relate to any of these? Each of these “exiles” create a loss. Take special note because you can experience many of these simultaneously.
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