“Faith does not eliminate questions, but faith knows where to take them.”
– Elisabeth Elliot
We have all been there. We are standing on, what feels like, an edge of a cliff. A crisis has happened. An event, an idea, a conversation fogs our minds and we do not know where to go. The faith we thought we had a grasp on seems to slip through our fingers like sand. To those around us, they pray we do not jump off the cliff and shipwreck our faith. Yet, we find ourselves on the cliff wanting to get to the other side.
All of us know of someone who left the faith. They claimed not to be a Christian anymore. We lift up condolences to families, and say prayers. Yet, we bury a lingering thought: could this happen to me? What if I leave the faith? What will happen to me?
We think these things because we all have a question, a doubt that we are fearful of sharing. We hide these under the floor boards of our soul hoping no one will ask about it and we will deal with it in time. Yet, the sounds of thumping come at night and when things are still. The thumping, thumping, thumping, until it breaks free and pushes us to that cliff.
What are we to do? How are we to handle our personal crisis of faith?
Fear is a Liar
We fear the questions, doubts, and thoughts. We fear what the church might think. We fear what our Christian friends, parents, and pastors will say and how they will treat us.
However, there is one person we do not have to fear: God. He never condemns someone for asking questions and seeking the truth. Psalm 23 demonstrates that our God is a Shepherd. He provides what we need. He even sets a table before us when we are surrounded by enemies (physical and spiritual). When a sheep goes missing, the shepherd does not say, “Oh well, I can always get more.” No, he comes to seek and save those who are lost.
In the Bible, many people questioned God. They asked the questions of why and how. God always answered. It may not be in their timing or with the answer they wanted. But, the answer always satisfied. Think of the stories of Job, Habakkuk, Mary, Thomas, Moses, Gideon. Did God condemn any of these for asking question or clearing doubts? The text shouts an encouraging, “No.”
Fear is a liar. People who condemn questioning in the church are not “God”and are promoting a church of fear not a church centered on God’s Word. God loves you and loves to give Truth. Why do you think we have His Word? He wants you to ask.
It Will Take Hard Work
Solutions to any issue take a lot of work. Einstein, Edison, Ford, and the Wright Brothers all share the common struggle hard work takes to find a solution.
The crisis of faith is no different. It will take work. It will take time. Start with searching out the Bible for answers. God promised in II Peter 1:3 that He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. But, you will need to take time to search it out. Answers do not come quickly. Anyone who has done research will tell you that you need to let all the pieces come together. The answer is in the Bible, we need to look at all the pieces; not just the ones we prefer to look at.
Also, this sounds cliché, a crisis of faith needs the help of the Spirit through prayer. The spirit is known as the Spirit of Wisdom. He guides people in Truth. Jesus calls the Spirit the Spirit of Truth. When we pray asking for help, we will receive it. Prayer is not a drawn out elaborate ceremony. We pray because we need God to do something in our lives. We are dependent on Him and prayer shows our dependence.
A crisis of faith makes us feel like we cannot or do not want to pray. Yet, when we pray we know we will be answered by God who cares for us, who has given us everything we need for life and godliness, and gives us the Spirit of Truth.
Habakkuk struggled with God over the problem of evil. It was a lot of work wrestling and praying. Yet, God answered. Struggle with your question. Search out the answer. Whatever is causing your doubt, take it to God in prayer. Look through all of Scripture to see what the Bible says. Look at the all the pieces.
A crisis of faith is not meant to be done alone. Yes, it is difficult to open up and our fear of man tries to clam our mouths shut. If you are in a church that promotes an attitude where you cannot open up and share and find help, leave. God’s church is a community of believers striving together. The church is to be Word-Centric. 1 Corinthians 12 states that we are a body with many members and are to help each other. James 5:16 encourages us to share our struggles and to pray for each other. A prayer of a righteous man (one who has been justified by Christ) will accomplish much.
The church is a place to open up and search the Scriptures. The church points each other to Christ and pushing each other towards the end goal. We do not do the Christian life alone. We are saved by Christ and for Christ. He has called the church. The church is not one person. The church is Christ’s body striving to bring salvation to the end of the earth by glorifying the name of our Savior with our lives.
When we come to our faith crisis, some will say in an almost Mufasa sounding voice, “Remember who you are.” Is this correct thinking? No.
The many stories of Israel turning away from God all have one common theme: they forgot God and His works. Psalm 106 tells of Israel’s refusal to remember. They did not have to remember who they were, they had to remember who their God was. They had to remember what He did for them.
Asaph, in Psalm 77, was in crisis. Yet, with all his tossing and turning, he remembered God and His works.
When was the last time we remembered, not who we are, but who God is and what He has done for us? Remembering points us back to the path. Martin Lloyd Jones said, “You will never realize the greatness of God’s power until you realize the greatness of the obstacles which that power has overcome.” What obstacles has God overcome for you? Can you list them specifically?
A Step of Faith
In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy faces three challenges in order to get to the Holy Grail. Through each challenge he must us his journal to navigate and stay alive. The third challenge is to get from one side of a canyon to another. Yet, his journal says there is a way across. He cannot see it, yet he trusts his journal. Watch the scene here.
The chasm between where we are at the edge of the cliff and the other side is massive. No one can jump it. It is impossible. We might not fully understand everything, but there is something inside of us from the Spirit that tells us to step out in faith. We have searched God’s Word and we know the truth. No one can push us out. We must take that step ourselves. It is our faith; not our parents’, not our pastors’, not our friends’. It is our choice. We must walk in faith.
A crisis of faith will not just come once. There will be big and small crises throughout our lives. But, it will be up to us where we take those. Do we take them to Google, Facebook, or Snapchat? Or do we take them to God’s Word and remember who God is? Faith does not say we will perfectly follow and have no doubts or questions. Faith, instead, points us to where we take those questions and doubts. And, it leads us to one question: Who is God to you? That answer will determine your step of faith.