I don't know what "the dog days" represents for you, but with my cancer, I always knew the dog days would come, and that they would be some of the hardest days for me.
I have 2 dogs, and when I look at what their day consists of, it goes a lot like this: bathroom break, couch. Food break, couch. Dreaming of food while on the couch. Bathroom break, couch. Being subject to whatever some human left on TV, as they lay on the couch.
I knew that the hardest days would be the days where I felt weak and worthless. Where I couldn't get up and do the many things I wanted to do-needed to do-because the energy and the brain power just weren't there.
Exactly one week after every chemo, comes three or four days where my activities mirror that of my dogs-thus the dog days. There's a lot of laying on couches, a lot of resisting to even get up to take that bathroom break; a lot of eating; a lot of dreaming of chocolate peanut butter Haagen-Dazs; and a lot of watching mindless TV.
The results are a draining of passion, a question of purpose, and a feeling (however unrealistic) that I will never be useful again. These, of course, are all lies of the enemy- lies that I am ineffective-which are-in fact-designed to make me ineffective. Never mind that just one day before the debilitating fatigue set in, I was having amazing opportunities to talk about Jesus, had begun writing a book, and was re-organizing my house. But everything comes into question after 2 or 3 dog days.
The Bible says: "We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." (Hebrews 6:12 NIV84) I'm not calling you or me "lazy"-for whatever reason, the dog days come. But I do want us to have the antidote to the discouragement of the dog days. You'll find them tucked away in that verse, they are: faith and patience.
If you're like me, I don't find my weakened faith in the heat of the fire, but in the quietness of the cooling down stage. When nothing seems to be happening, and I'm not sure I am becoming like Jesus at all. I know I was-in the fire-but now that I can't see the heat and smoke, the enemy accuses that I haven't learned a thing and that there is no purpose for me-and there never was.
Step one in defeating the dog days: turn off the TV.
Step 2: turn off the incessant voice of the enemy, and counter it with God's word-the truth that produces faith. And be inspired by the timing of God, which requires patience.
This is exactly what Jeremiah did in Lamentations 3:20-21. He said:
"...my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:20-24 NIV84)
Jeremiah knew who God was, but it wasn't until he intentionally called to mind the character of God, that he overcame the debilitation of the dog days, and the lies of the enemy. When he fed his faith and patience, he was revived.
When the dog days come-and they will come-be ready to call to mind the word of God that will revive you. Too weak? Have a friend at the ready to remind you of the truth of Who God is, how in your weakness He is made strong...how His grace is sufficient for you. How He is the one that sustains you, the one who made you and will rescue you. If you do that, you will come out on the other side strengthened! And your enemy? Denied.