At various points in our life, we can get bored with spiritual things. Sometimes, this can be because of persistent sin. Other times, life circumstances or physical problems can give us the blahs. But what happens when the boredom persists? What happens when we achieve a spiritual apathy that leaves us uninterested in reading the Bible, praying, or even coming to church? Something deeper may be at work. On one level, we know we should do something but may not know exactly what to do.
Enter Uche Anizor’s book, Overcoming Apathy: Gospel Hope for those Who Struggle to Care.
All around us, from media to movies, we see the “coolness” of apathy. The mindset of the times is that not caring is not just okay, but trendy. Like anything, this attitude can easily seep into hearts and affect our walk with God. But it goes deeper than too:
Apathy is a psychological and spiritual sickness in which we experience a prolonged dampening of motivation, effort, and emotion, as well as a resistance to the things that would bring flourishing in ourselves and others. It is a sin that expresses itself as restlessness, aimlessness, laziness, and joylessness toward the things of God (58).
From here, Anizor explores how we fall into such a state. In the third chapter, he explores seven common reasons for apathy, ranging from personal experience and emotion to what is going on around us.
Not surprisingly, Anizor turns to God for the cure to spiritual apathy. He shows how in the work of Christ, God makes clear that our apathy has been conquered, healed, and forgiven. We have no need to look anywhere—indeed, can we find lasting help somewhere else?—to find a rescuing hand. But this is not a one-and-done kind of cure.
Anizor helps us see that we can develop some good habits that will keep us from falling back into the same apathetic pit. This section will be surprising to many. He moves away from the quick-hits style of application and digs deep into the nitty-gritty of our heart and our actions in everyday life. He helps us think through our condition and, once engaged again, take really practical steps to keep from returning to it. In all of this, he displays a pastoral sensitivity as well. Anizor understands that there are nuances to all of us and makes allowances for that, lest we fall into the snare of comparing ourselves to others.
Something that makes this book unique is the author’s own experience. Anizor isn’t writing from a place of distanced objectivity. This was an experience he struggled through for years. And this book is the fruit of what he learned on his road back to caring. He says,
Imagine you died and your children discovered your secret journals—what would they find within? What would surprise them? What themes would stick out to them? In my case, I think my kids would be overwhelmed by the number of entries in which I prayed the same kind of prayer: “Lord, wake me up!” (14).
I wonder if you feel the same way?
This book will be helpful if you are struggling with apathy toward spiritual things. But it will also be helpful for those who love someone with apathy toward spiritual things. It is a both a book for the struggling and a book for those who help strugglers. Beyond that, it would be helpful for the healthy as well by serving as an inoculation against future apathy.