I’m just wondering, is it just me or have you ever had a time in your life that you questioned everything? Like, you really thought you had things figured out. And then something happened that never in your wildest dreams would you have seen coming, and then everything you thought you knew and understood just went out the window. Have you ever felt like that? Like you knew something…really knew something to be true without a shadow of a doubt…and it proved you totally wrong?
Well, in today’s episode I’m going to talk about something most of us believers don’t think we’ll ever have a problem with, and that is, a “Crisis of Faith.” I know I would’ve argued with you until I was blue in the face that I knew and understood God. Honestly, I really thought I had God figured out. I mean, I’ve been walking closely with Him for many years, and I would consider our relationship very intimate. I also felt like I had a strong, unshakeable faith. Like nothing was going to make me bend or question it. And yet, there I was.
So, what is a “Crisis of Faith” exactly? One definition I found to be spot on is “Believing that you no longer know what you thought you once knew – especially about God.” Spot on!
I think the first sign that I was in the throes of a Crisis of Faith was when my heart said (even if my mouth didn’t dare), “But I’ve been serving you for so long, God. I’ve been leading worship for 25+ years – bringing others into Your presence as we exalt Your name together, serving in Women’s Ministry, leading bible studies, mentoring women. Why has this happened to me? Why didn’t you do what I asked you to do?”
So was I exempt from suffering because I had dedicated my life to Him, to serving Him? Was that how it went – a transactional relationship? I’ll do this, Lord, and then you better keep up your part of the bargain to make sure I don’t suffer. Now, if you had suggested prior to the death of my husband that I treated God like a genie in a bottle, I would have been seriously offended. But tragedy has a way of exposing the true heart. It’s a true test of faith. Most people have faith and trust in Him only when God ‘does’. You really get a good look into a person’s relationship with God when He ‘doesn’t.’
Think about that for a minute. When are you most likely to hear from someone, “Oh God is so good!”? usually when He has ‘come through’ in healing or provisions. Rarely are the words ‘God is good’ the first thing out of someone’s mouth when tragedy strikes. Tragedy is a magnifying glass on our faith. It’s then that you get to see up-close what’s made it from head to the heart.
So how on earth could a person, who has worked for years to get truth from head to heart, have what she would describe as “unshakeable faith” and then find herself questioning what she thinks she knew to be true? Well, I honestly believe it stems from a natural growing faith that trusts in God’s intervention, provisions, and benevolent care according to His perfect character and standing firm on His Word – the Bible- but then faces a tragedy that makes you wonder, “Where was God’s intervention? Where were His provisions? And why don’t I feel His benevolent care in it all? Where were you God? Why didn’t you show up in my time of desperate need like Your Word says You would?”
Friends, have you ever had a situation in your life where you felt like this? You read the Bible, you saw a verse maybe that spoke to you in your situation, so you clung on to it with dear life – declaring that scripture as truth…your truth. Well, here’s where we go wrong as we, believers, are trying desperately to seek God, listen for His guidance, and follow in His ways according to His purposes for each of us. But especially if we desperately need His intervention in our lives. It is easy for us to ‘cherry pick’ verses out of the bible to cling to without understanding the whole context and meaning of the verse. We also tend to see scripture from a “here and now” perspective, when most of the time, we need to be reading God’s promises with eternity in mind. Or at least with the understanding that God’s thoughts and ways are all working towards their expected end, which He will give in due time.
Here’s a scripture I personally clung to in my desperation: Psalm 50:15, "Call to Me in your times of trouble and I will rescue you." So here’s the deal. I was in trouble! Real trouble. My husband was dying before me, wasting away in his pain. I needed God to intervene in a big way. I needed a rescue. HE needed a rescue. But that’s not what happened.
So, the Crisis of Faith seemed to stem from years of believing that my husband would be healed from his back pain. As I prayed, and cried out to God through hot tears, I felt like I ‘heard’ from the Lord that I was to wait – and wait is definitely a four-letter word in my book! But in the waiting I got a sense that God was doing a good work emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I believed, with my whole being, that Brian would be healed, and that we would have a testimony of it together. One day in my quiet time, I had read a scripture, Ephesians 2:22, that seemed to confirm that we would be ‘built together’ for God’s Kingdom. It says, “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” I was totally convinced that this was a confirmation from the Lord that Brian would be miraculously healed and his testimony would bring thousands into the kingdom! But that didn’t happen. Yeah, maybe I was grasping at straws in my desperation, looking for any “word” from the Lord. But all it did was leave me unconfident in what to believe. Or who to believe.
It seems that the dictionary has ‘believe’ and ‘trust’ as synonyms. However, I can trust that God will do what He pleases, but not believe that He will do one thing or another…especially for me.
Have you ever been there, friends? Literally, I was saying to myself, “My ‘believing’ was off. What in the world am I to do now? How do I move on from here? Because I don’t know if I can trust myself anymore. Or God’s promises. And at the same time, now more than ever I need to believe, to have faith, to step out and know that You’re taking care of me…of things.”
Here’s another scripture I heard over and over in my head. Even well-meaning friends would quote this scripture to me. Romans 8:28 – “For God works all things together for good according to His purposes.” Well, I believe His word to be true, so then I determined that I must not have the right definition of ‘good’ because this doesn’t look like it’s working out “for good” at all! I mean, the grief of coming to terms with the fact that my husband took his life - That heaviness, confusion, guilt, self-blame – how could any of that be good? But this scripture literally says “things work together for good, not that things are good.” God’s good always has to do with His kingdom purposes…not our comfort. He has a plan to use even our crisis for His glory and even for our good. He has a strategy to use us in partnering with Him in His divine purpose. He works all that yuk, that pain, that which looks like unbearable circumstances, He works all of that for good.
If you’re in a situation that would make you say, “this is definitely not good,” then I want to encourage you, friend, that God’s not finished yet. For sure, I knew He was working things out while Brian and I waited for healing to come. But I’m also sure that He didn’t say, “well, y’all didn’t wait for me to work it all out in my timing so my work here is done.” No, He is still working all things out for good – for His kingdom good and my earthly good.
It is true that my initial definition of “good” was probably off – mainly because it had me and my comfort solely in mind. It was only “good” in my book if it made me happy and gave me what I wanted. It is erroneous thinking. And when we get a more heavenly perspective of things, we will be able to understand a little better our place in this world. Surprisingly, seeing things through this heavenly lens brings stability, peace and calmness, and a real settled feeling – even in the midst of unbearable circumstances.
In talking about this subject with a friend recently, she asked, “So do you think you’ve come to grips with things now, that you understand things a little better now?”
Ha! What I know without a shadow of a doubt is that I know nothing. The tenants of my faith, no let me rephrase that…my own little theology was dismantled and is being put back together rightly. It no longer has me as the leading character in this play called life, but has allowed me to consider all things, think about all things, and rectify all things with the truth that God and His kingdom is the focus of all things.
So friends, if you find yourself now in a Crisis of Faith, may I encourage you to trust that you don’t know fully what you think you know; that the God who created you intimately knows you - what you’re about, what you need..and want, and what you fear. This One is with you, working things out in a way that He gets the glory from your story – and in order to do so, makes sure that your story turns out good.