“It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6 The MSG). What happens though when we have a crisis of faith – a period in our lives where we don’t stand up in faith but shrink back, not trusting God in a certain situation or place we are in? Is that the end of our relationship with the Lord – a signal to God that He should move on to those a bit more resilient? Are we alone in experiencing such a crisis, and are we destined to stay there – forever mired in guilt over the faith we should have had?
Thankfully, Scripture offers encouragement even in our doubts.
We’re not alone - I love how real the Bible is. No glossing over the mistakes of men or editing to remove the failures of even the greats of the faith… just Truth, set out for an example and encouragement for all. The reality of Scripture exposes quite a few people who have experienced a crisis of faith. Take for example John – “the disciple that Jesus loved”… eyewitness to the ministry and miracles of Jesus… selected to participate in the vision of Eternity from which the book of Revelation was written. Yet in Revelation 5 it appears John has a colossal crisis of faith: “I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.” (Revelation 5:4) How about the father of the boy who was possessed by the impure spirit in Mark 9? Statements like “Help us, if you can” and “Help me with my doubts!" provide an honest glimpse in to a doubting father’s heart. Another of Jesus’ disciples further illustrates that even the strongest sometimes struggle for faith: “Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14)
God’s Love remains, regardless of our level of faith – “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) Nothing makes God love us more, nothing makes Him love us less. Even during a shipwrecked faith that Love remains, steadfast for us to return to. The Love that endured the cross certainly can endure our less than perfect faith. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful”. (2 Tim 2:13) “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15) “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
The Promise of Victory – Peter went on to be a pillar of the early church, performing miracles and spreading the gospel after his sinking faith. John was eventually able to see the One who is Worthy, and saw many more great things in the vision of Heaven. The father with doubts had his son healed before his very eyes. “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8:37) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:9) “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Scripture is full of hope for those with a shipwrecked faith.
I personally have experienced my share of “shipwrecks”, but as Paul says in Phil 3 “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”! Every new day is a chance to live that life of faith, regardless of past failures. Thank God His mercy endures forever!