A Crisis of Faith

Sad Man

In the 25 years I’ve been a Christian I’ve suffered a crisis of faith – twice. Both times  threatened to derail my relationship with God entirely.  Once was in 1997 and the other time was 2004.  The two triggers that precipitated my crisis of faith could not have been more different.

In 1997 I was studying full time, living out of home and working part time.  Money was tight.  In July I submitted my tax return, and back then you usually had to wait 6 to 8 weeks to get a refund if you were owed one.  I was going to get a substantial refund which I sorely needed.  Looking at when I needed it, I prayed that it would come at 6 weeks.

But it didn’t.  Right now I can’t believe that I cared so much about such a trivial event but when my tax return arrived 8 weeks later I was outraged with God.  I thought, “How powerful are you if you can’t even answer the most simple prayer?”  I didn’t ask for the world – it was the most minor little prayer and yet it not being  answered in the way I wanted threw me into a total spiritual tailspin!  The reason was that almost everything in my life had not gone as planned in 1997, and this was the straw that broke the camels back.

I dealt with this crisis really poorly.  What I needed to do was just grow up and realise that God cares far more about His kingdom, His will and His name (to quote Jesus priorities in the Lord’s prayer).  I never really worked that out and just sort of dragged my feet through the rest of 1997 before finally getting spiritually going again in mid 1998.

Then at the other end of the seriousness spectrum, in 2004 our second baby died.  Catherine went into an early labour and gave birth when she was just 16 weeks gestation, far too early for a baby to survive.  That was one part of a long journey that ended with the birth of our daughter Poppy who is now 6.  Catherine has blogged about that journey in this post.  Whilst we lost 3 babies my faith was not rocked by the first and third losses, but when Catherine fell pregnant the second time my overwhelming instinct was to pray, “Lord let it be different this time.”  Far from being different it was exactly the same.  Same problem, same time in the pregnancy, same outcome.  A complete re-run.  That devastated me and I didn’t know what to say to God.  My faith was shaken to the core.

After a couple of months of working through these feelings the breakthrough came at church one Sunday.  During the music I simply made a decision that I would praise God.  That was the turning point.  It’s not as though all grief vanished at that moment, but from that point I was back on track with the One who gives true comfort.

Upon reflection I could have done things differently.  Some things help and some don’t.  These are two things which genuinely help you get out of a crisis of faith:

Take Communion.  If you are going through a crisis then it’s great to remember that whatever you are going through Jesus went through crucifixion, so that’s likely a fair bit worse than what you are going through.  If you are praying for a for a tax return to arrive then it’s definitely way worse.  Whatever pain is yours Jesus went through unspeakable physical pain all the way to death.  And he didn’t go singing and praising God as it happened either – he was crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Taking communion is where we get reminded that the cross is central to our lives and our faith.  Jesus knows what a crisis of faith is, he knows what pain is, he has been there.  Communion reminds us, and puts our own problems in perspective.

Praise.  Scripture commands us to praise God for who He is – He is holy, He is worthy, He is pure, He is sovereign.  When we are in crisis our focus turns to ourselves.  But praise puts our focus back on God.  Your praise can come from music, your own prayer time, or wherever.  But when praise comes breakthrough soon follows.

John

3 Comments to “A Crisis of Faith”

  1. Your openness and honesty model what we can be as people of God – on the road, not in the parking lot. Thank you for allowing we who are “total” strangers to be blessed by your journey through these things.

  2. Your willingness to share your stories is so powerful John. I think of Psalm 100:4. I too can recall times of breakthrough in my walk with God when I gave thanks and worship when I felt least like it, when everything in the natural realm looked hopeless. This is faith at work as we avail ourselves of God’s grace. Blessings.

  3. I appreciate hearing about both your experiences. Sometimes a crisis of faith is hard to identify at the time.

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