Malaise

Malaise

Malaise is a mercy that feels yucky.

Malaise is that feeling you get when you’re getting sick but you don’t quite know it yet. It’s a vague sense of dis-ease. Your energy is draining. You just want to lie down. Emotionally, you might feel discouraged, irritable, depressed, or cynical for no identifiable reason. You ask yourself, “What’s the matter with me?”

Precisely what you’re supposed to ask. Malaise is the early warning system God designed for the body. It’s telling you something destructive is attacking your bodily systems. It’s a messenger running ahead of an invading enemy alerting us to get our defenses in place.

The soul also has its diseases and they are more deadly than the body’s. Soul diseases attack our belief systems. Corrupted beliefs can be very serious if left untreated. They grow and spread, wreaking destruction in us. And when contagious, as they frequently are, they harm others. Such diseases can result in soul-death.

Mercifully, there is a malaise of the soul. I’ll bet you know what I mean.

Because hope is to the soul what energy is to the body, soul-malaise manifests itself as a flagging hope in God. It’s a vague, doubty, spiritual discouragement. You wouldn’t describe it as a crisis of faith. You might avoid talking about it because it’s hard to describe. You just feel spiritually sluggish. You don’t feel like doing anything spiritually significant. You ask yourself, “What’s the matter with me?”

Precisely what you’re supposed to ask. This malaise is the early warning system God designed for the soul. It’s telling you something destructive is attacking your belief systems. It’s a messenger running ahead of an invading enemy alerting us to get our defenses in place.

So what should we do when we experience soul-malaise? Similar to bodily malaise, we pray and get prayed for, get plenty of rest, seek to identify the source (what is draining my hope in God?), head to God’s pharmacy (the Bible) for some meds (promises) and if needed (as it often is) we get some help from soul-physicians (friends or pastors) who are skillful at treating these diseases.

It’s not wise to ignore malaise. Left unchecked you will get sicker.

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching (1 Timothy 4:16)

Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon) is the author of Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith and serves as the President of Desiring God, which he and John Piper launched together in 1994. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Pam, their five children, and one naughty dog.