What is a spiritual breakthrough?

The term "spiritual breakthrough" generally refers to the experience of having reached a new level of spirituality as understood by the person "breaking through." The term is used by people of various religions. Some Christians use the term "spiritual breakthrough" in reference to either a sudden epiphany or the resolution of an ongoing issue or struggle in their lives. Spiritual breakthroughs may include times when someone gets saved, receives a visible answer to their prayer, gains a deeper understanding of a specific biblical truth, or gains victory over a recurring sin. Many times, a spiritual breakthrough is preceded by perseverance through difficulty, and the result is a resolution of a situation and the reaching of a new level of faith within one's Christian walk.

Though the term "spiritual breakthrough" is not found within the Bible, there are characters in the Bible who experience what many modern Christians would consider to be a spiritual breakthrough. For example, Hannah prayed and asked the Lord for a child for years. When she gave birth to Samuel, this could be considered her spiritual breakthrough because it was a tangible answer to her ongoing prayers: "For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him" (1 Samuel 1:27). Peter experienced a breakthrough in his mindset when God gave him a vision revealing that the gospel is for all people, even the Gentiles (Acts 10).

Sometimes Christians think they need to get a spiritual breakthrough if they are feeling emotionally distant from God. This is not necessarily accurate, though. Even when our emotions aren't as strong as we may like, we can trust that God is always alongside us, leading us in His paths as we submit our will to His (Proverbs 3:5–6). He is always with us (Hebrews 13:5), and nothing we do can stop Him from loving us (Romans 8:37–39).

Is it a good idea for us to seek spiritual breakthroughs? Yes and no. Above all else, we should seek God Himself—we should seek the Lord rather than just seek what He can do for us (Matthew 6:33). It is a good desire for us to have to live righteous lives that are devoted to God. He promises to give us wisdom when we ask for it (James 1:5). When we stay connected to Him as our life source, intimacy with the Lord and righteous living become natural for us (Psalm 1; John 15:4–11). God delights in giving good gifts to His children, so we should not be afraid to ask Him for things that are in line with His will (Matthew 7:7; Mark 11:24; James 4:3; 1 John 5:14–15).

In our journey with the Lord, sometimes we experience our own "spiritual breakthrough" moments—times when things we have been seeking help and guidance from the Lord about finally fall into place. These times can feel like an emotional high within our spiritual life, and we should thank God for them. As with any human relationship, there will be emotionally high and low times in our relationship with God. These emotional extremes should not serve as the basis for any relationship because they are not sustainable. Rather, steady faithfulness and love are how a truly strong relationship grows. Proverbs 3:3–4 says: "Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man."

The term "spiritual breakthrough" may carry with it a connotation of a change that happens suddenly without prior effort; however, as with any major life changes, in most circumstances the process takes time and effort behind the scenes. We can trust that as we persevere with God, He will provide us with the spiritual growth and breakthroughs that we need (Philippians 1:6).

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