Elders Journal

In the Doldrums


        Approximately 5% of latitude north and south of the equator on the Earth is a belt known as the “Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone”. It is here that sailing ships have sometimes gotten stranded on windless waters. Because the prevailing trade winds of the northern hemisphere blow southwest and collide with northwest winds from the southern hemisphere, the surface air on the ocean rises upward and there is little wind in the zone.

              Before sailing ships had auxiliary engine power, sailors in the past would get stranded in this belt for days or even weeks until surface winds returned and they could sail on. A popular nautical term used by them that referred to this zone was called “the doldrums.” Coming from an old Middle English word for “dull” or “listless,” it rightly defined the true mental state that early sailors might have when their ship was stranded for long periods of time.

              I thought of the fears and anxieties that can sometimes affect any of us in our life now that have nothing to do with “windless waters.” The winds of time and changes in the world’s current events have brought great depression and disappointment to countless people. Even today, I have heard people use the old nautical term “doldrums” referring to their current mental state! Thinking from a more spiritual viewpoint, fear or uncertainty for the future of our own salvation can produce emotions similar to what the sailors had “in the doldrums.” Having positive assurance for the future brings hope and security for our being is a necessary trait for all persevering and enduring Christians anticipating eternal things. This type of waiting is not hopeless and the faith it produces brings peace and endurance in their lives. Salvation comes to all who wait for the “glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”!

              If we desire to be in a Kingdom without depression, fear, or “doldrums,” Jesus offers the only remedy with eternal implications! The “Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone” may still strand a sailing ship in the ocean and our hope may still be challenged by gloomy or low spirited moments but Jesus wants us to “sail on” beyond these emotions. The mainstay for the Christian living with God’s promise of what’s ahead transforms and sustains us in a hope that cannot be found anywhere else! May we all learn to trust in a Savior of this magnitude!