Summary: How to handle times when our faith runs head-on into crisis
He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”...Then a voice said to him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”—I Kings 19:4b,9b
OVERCOMING CRISES OF FAITH
Being saved carries with it a number of assurances. Because I’m saved, I don’t have a fear of Hell, because salvation assures me that Hell is no longer in my future. Because I’m saved I know that I’m never alone, for I have Christ’s assurance that He will never leave me nor forsake me; I have the in-dwelling and in-filling presence of the Holy Spirit to equip and empower me. Because I’m saved I know that my sin has been forgiven, that I’ve been regenerated, redeemed and reconciled to my Heavenly Father, that I’ve been elevated to the full place of Sonship and heirship that God always intended for me, and that all of this has been done not because of me, but in spite of me, through the gracious gift of Jesus Christ. And it’s good to live everyday secure in the knowledge that my salvation is a guarantee that can’t be lost.
But being saved doesn’t mean that I’m not subject to periods of weakness along this Christian journey. Being saved doesn’t mean that I’m perfect—I will make mistakes. Being saved doesn’t mean that I won’t have to deal with disappointments and frustra-tions—there are many and sometimes they appear to be mounting exponentially. Being saved doesn’t mean that there will never be times of anxiety, fear and anger. There’s a reason why Christians are called disciples—it takes tremendous discipline to live a life of faith when circumstances are not what we would want them to be.
Though I an absolutely sure of my salvation, I confess that there are times when I don’t feel saved. I know that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, and I know that He’s in charge of the universe. Yet there are circumstances that arise in my life that challenge my faith. There are circumstances that arise in my life that cause me to hurt. And when I’m hurting, I just want the pain to stop. And when the pain just keeps on coming and gets worse instead of better, when I wake up with hurt in the morning after I’ve tossed and turned with hurt all night long, when my hurt follows me like a shadow in the noon-day Sun, when my hurt won’t let me eat, when my hurt robs me of my concentration, when my hurt pulls me down like an anchor tied around my neck, in those times, if I’m not careful, my faith will get weak.
Now, somebody here today may know something of what I’m talking about. Somebody may be in a bad place in your home-life. There’s no peace in your house; you and your spouse can’t get along no matter how hard you try; your children don’t respect you and you wake up every morning dreading what the day will bring. And because of personal sorrows, your faith has gotten weak. Somebody’s health has betrayed him. You’ve got aches and pains, your energy is gone and you’re flat on your back a lot of the time. And in your pain, you’re asking yourself, “Does God really care about me?” Somebody’s done all they know how to live a Christian life. You try to live by the Golden Rule, you try to treat people as you want to be treated, and yet, it seems like the nicer you are to folk, the more they take advantage of you; the more you try to help folk, the more they do to hurt you. And in the midst of it all, you’ve thrown your hands up in despair and your faith has gotten weak.
When these moments come they must be taken seriously, for they represent a crucial point in our walk with Christ. They don’t threaten to take away our salvation, but they can make life less worth living; they can negatively infringe on the quality of our lives; they can hinder us from fulfilling our divine potential. And for those dealing with these moments, the question becomes, “Will conditions prevail over me or will I trust God to see me through negative conditions?” As Christians, we’re expected to walk by faith, not sight. But often our faith is challenged by what we see. But to rise above our crises of faith and trust God anyhow, we must employ faith to help us. Without faith, there’s a lot we can’t cope with; without faith, we can’t make sense of a lot that we see. But when our faith is strong, then even though our hearts may ache, even though our eyes may be wet with tears, we can still find comfort in God’s promise that, “I will neither leave you nor forsake you.” And so, challenges to our faith-walk should serve as spiritual alarms alerting us to the fact that it’s time to draw nearer to God.