What happens when you’ve been stepping out on faith and being faithful yet you feel like God is not fulfilling what you believe his Word says.
What happens when you feel like the God you have been trying to depend on, is letting you down?
Often we try to act like it’s too taboo to ever think these things, the truth is we often do. Many people feel these exact thoughts but are scared to say it because they don’t want to appear less “holy”. This lack of authenticity is contributing to Christian’s ineffectiveness in reaching people and not knowing how to deal with these thoughts is causing many Christians to turn away.
I actually think this is more common than we like to let on. I think this is a major reason why people are leaving the church en masse. Yes we say its due to church hurt and all these other things, but if we really had faith that “All things worked for the good of those that love him…” or if we really believed that “the steps of a righteous man are ordered” we could accept the pain. It’s easy to say “It’s good that I was afflicted” when aint nothing going on. (excuse my grammar, but I just need to write this like I’d say it) It’s easy to say that God is the lifter up of our head when we are in a “good place”, but there are some things in life that will knock us down. You know what? It’s even possible to say that after the first punch. We’ve seen the movies and we love a good underdog story. But what about the people who don’t get the story because they are still being knocked down. In movies you can always tell when things are about to change for the main character. The music begins to swell, the tempo changes, you can see a refreshed look of determination come across their face. Wouldn't it be easy if right as we were about to give up, the music changed and we received some external trigger to let us know the tides were about to change in our favor? Then maybe we wouldn’t be so quick to give up….but life is not a movie.
My faith has absolutely been tested recently. I mean, I’ve had some low moments. So… I went to Bible Study at out chapel, hoping to come away with something. I had determined I would make it, even though I still ended up being late. While they were holding bible study I was unusually quiet. I had so much going on in my head, I couldn't really focus on the scripture they were talking about because my faith was being strained. Like.. I couldn’t hear them talk about what God did for them, when I’m looking around at my own situation and it feels and looks hopeless. As a matter of fact, to tell someone everything going on they would agree that its bad. So…. anyway I finally get the courage to present my question and I bring up Jonah and his trip to Nineveh. I mention how after all that happened, after losing faith and being tested and regaining faith, when he finally listened to God and warned the people, God didn't even destroy the people like He told Jonah to say. (Jonah chapter 1-4) Jonah was so disappointed. Like “God I told you I didn't want to go warn these people because I knew you would be kind to them and now I look like a fool” so I guess I did all that to say, what happens when you step out on faith and end up looking like a fool AND to be clear its because I believed I had been being faithful and God was continuing to allow me to look foolish. In their explanation, they mentioned maybe what Jonah was going through wasn't about him trusting God, it was about God trusting him. I appreciated what they said and afterwards I prepared myself to leave, knowing I had more to say and ask, but not wanting to be a burden. So I grabbed my kids and went home, almost at the brink of tears because I believed I had missed my opportunity.
I went home and I put on my headphones as I began to clean. On top of this long miserable week, I had cleaning to do. I put on a sermon and the speaker started talking about Shadrech, Meshach and Abednego. It wasn't what he said about them being in the fire that moved me. It was their response to the King. They were unwilling to bow in their circumstance. They didn't trust that God was going stop their problem, for they said “even if he doesn't I will not serve your gold statue.” (Daniel 3:18). As I heard him preach I begin to think about my own furnace. I remembered what the bible said happens in a furnace and that I should think of it more as a refining process, (which is easier to say when you aren't in it.) Something in me stirred and I was able to have hope in a way that I haven’t for a long time. Nothing about my situation has changed. There are still some big problems and at times I still feel upset that I am going through this. I have made up in my mind that God can trust me. I won’t bow. “I am pressed on all sides, but not crushed. Perplexed but not in despair. Persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed” I can say this now with full conviction and honesty, “Though he slay me yet will I trust him” and next time I encourage someone in this way, it wont be full of this church-talk that we do. It will be with complete empathy because I can say I didn't know how I was going to come out of a situation, but I am here full of faith that He will save me, but even if he doesn't……..
It wasn't that the God I depended on was letting me down. I wasn't depending on God. I was depending on my own abilities. I was letting myself down. It turns out I didn't have a faith crisis, I had a confidence one. If it was faith it would have been more solid. I had become confident that I could bible read, meditate, and problem solve my way out of whatever situation may come up. So, in the words of another popular preacher I listen to “I lost my confidence”. I think that’s okay. I think since my confidence was misdirected, it is okay that it is now misplaced. When all is said and done. This confidence I had in me will be replaced by faith.