CRISIS OF FAITH- What to do when my faith is failing
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25 ESV)
Of all the hymns I have sung, none has brought more tears, more hope, and more assurance than He Will Hold Me Fast. Ada R. Habershon originally penned it after receiving a letter from a fellow hymn writer Robert Harkness. In the letter, Harkness described a brother he met in Canada, a brother that was not sure about his faith. Harkness expressed such anguish in his letter that he begged Habershon to write a biblically sound hymn that would assure people of their hope in Christ. Habershon wrote the hymn, and Harkness composed the melody for it.
In recent times this year of the Lord 2019, we have several renowned writers, pastors and Christian workers declare their lack of belief in the gospel and the hope that is in God. Such occurrences have thrown many weak believers into confusion and even a state of apostasy. “Why should I keep believing yet such seemingly strong saints are backing away?” One of them was a man known as Joshua Harris, who did a book called “I kissed dating goodbye” that hit the evangelical world like a Tsunami. What happened? Did faith lose its grip on them? Did Jesus let them go? How long had they struggled with these thoughts? Crisis of faith is like depression. Unless tackled well, it will lead many away from the love they claim to have.
When I fear my faith will fail
Of all the enemies we have to fight against as saints, fear ranks above all of them. Countless times in scripture, God calls his children to fight against this beast. Fear has crippled many soldiers of the faith for many centuries down the line. God commanded Joshua not to be afraid as he readied up to conquer and inherit the land. The prophets throughout the ages received the same call. Our Lord Himself said it, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You trust in God, believe and trust in me…”
Many things seek to bring fear in our hearts — sickness and disease rank top for me on the list. Cancer is becoming a household name. Out of every ten homes, almost six or seven have experienced the painful sting of death through cancer. Tough financial days have caused many saints to stop believing. Joblessness and the hopelessness it brings wait around the corner. Injustices right left and centre make the topic of Sovereign God seem like a nursery rhyme that needs not adult attention! When marriage does not make sense and purity is a big joke. When ends do not meet for us, what are we to do? What happens when my faith is failing?
Fear is the absence of the presence of God, affirming and reassuring us of victory, even though the enemy is (literally) camped outside our gates, as it were. With all senses, none would believe that God’s salvation is imminent, yet the enemy has closed all escape routes. That is the failure and folly of reason- it never knows what faith has under its sleeves. Fear silences faith by casting doubt in the spoken and eternal Word. Fear is the atmosphere of the devil, and the antidote is faith. Isaiah 26:3 reminds us that God will keep him in perfect peace whose heart is focused on him because he trusts in Him.
Functioning Faith, not Experiential Faith
John’s epistle is full of certainties in the speech. He uses the word ‘know’ many times it the book to show us just how deep and secure this relationship with Jesus truly is. In Him, there is no shadow of turning. That is how firm a foundation we have in believing on Jesus Christ. However, there is a faith that we have embraced in years past that focuses much on experience and not doctrinal, spirit-rich knowledge of the Word which became flesh. Feelings, euphoria and emotionalism characterize many fellowships today. There is nothing wrong with feelings (God gave them to us), but when based on little or zero theology, they leave us exposed to ‘tossing to and fro’ by many trials and troubles of life.
What happened when you got saved? Did you walk away after a particular repeated statement from the preacher? Was there anything more than that? Have you seen the transformative impact of the gospel in your attitudes and behaviour? Is there a constant hatred of sin? An appreciation of the work and person of Christ in your life? What has changed? Our faith must be deeply grounded upon Biblical theology and not shifting human experiences. Circumstances change, but the Word remains the same. The old hymn says:
We have an anchor that keeps the soul | Stedfast and sure while the billows roll, Fastened to the Rock which cannot move| Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.
Outward circumstances cannot fell functioning faith. It will be challenged, but it will not be shaken or moved. Experience, on the other hand, varies from land to land. We, for example, cannot pull Gideon’s move of fleece on God now or ask our army commander to go to battle and raise his hands for the Kenya Defense Forces to experience victory over Al-Shabaab militia. That was an experience that served its purpose then. It cannot be put forth as doctrine. What is your confidence? Tears and falling down chills down the spine? Or solidly, the Word of God? Look to the scriptures again and ask the Lord to bring life to your faith. You will need more than songs, bands, camps, retreats and whatever else when the day of trouble comes knocking.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling
Jude says these words of doxology for our admonition and joy. Now to him. Not to us but to him who is able. To the ONLY GOD, Elohim/ Yahweh. The one who created all things with the Word of his mouth. To him, we look to when things around us give way. He is I AM. He becomes all things at all times for the glory of his name and the joy of our hearts. To JESUS CHRIST, the lamb slain for my transgressions. Him who took our place and paid for our sin. He walked the journey for our strengthening and grace. To him is seated on the throne ready to receive us home amidst our worries and distresses. To him be glory forever. He is our way out when our faith is giving way. When our knees cannot hold the pressure anymore, he alone is our only hope. Look to him and be lifted from the myrrh. He holds all things in their place.
He will hold me fast
The writer says that when faith fails, Christ must hold us fast. We are to hold fast our confession as a drowning man holds on the branch. But much more, our BRANCH, the Lord himself, will hold us fast. He will never let us go. His grip is tighter than ours ever could be. There will be moments when the journey will seem meaningless but rest assured that his grip on you is much stronger. He said that no one could snatch us from his hands and his Father’s hands. We are safe in his hands, even when our grip is slippery. He loved us first. He knew us first. He died for us before we knew him. Surely, he will keep us.
Hold tight as well. Hang on to grace and Christ. His eye is on you, dear saint. This phase of life shall pass, then forever with him; you will reign. Death and life will no longer give us chills. Are you having thoughts of giving up? Is depression getting the best of you? Is your heart desperate and tattered? Christ must hold you- even you- fast!
For my life, He bled and died
Christ will hold me fast
Justice has been satisfied
He will hold me fast
Raised with Him to endless life
He will hold me fast
Till our faith is turned to sight
When he comes at last.