When Faith Goes Dark

My Dark Nights

I was at the edge of darkness. It’s not pleasant, your world slowly becomes wobbly, you constantly battle between sin and right living {righteousness}, call into question your faith beliefs and search for honest faith when your world is shaken.

But you hope to press through the valley of darkness believing that somewhere ahead there is light, holding on to the principles of your faith because light is a better option than darkness.  Sometimes a lightening bolt tears a dream apart leaving you with questions for your God, and these life experiences expose our mental and emotional fortitude.

A crisis of faith is often preceded by trials of seemingly unanswered prayers or unrelenting life circumstances, which shake us to the core. Yes it becomes so severe that you wonder if God is there.

A crisis of faith causes you to seriously question whether what you believe and live by is true.”

Crisis Point

I have struggled and faced my own crisis of faith when my wife and I lost our first child who was 4 weeks old {And I will tell the story of how our health care system needs urgent overhaul}. My fervent prayers for his life were unanswered, even though I was ready to give up mine for his. I was loved by many but a sense of abandonment settled over me and I didn’t know what to do. I felt those in the faith community did not know how to respond to my crisis or how to walk me back from the edge of darkness.

My life was at a crossroads. Do I walk away from my community of fellowship? Do I wrestle with and question the validity of my God or do I abandon my faith to explore life on my own terms? Responding to my crisis of faith became paramount if I was to survive as I was spiraling to depression {Yes, I will return to this silent epidemic in our society in a subsequent blog}.

I saw this crisis of faith in the lives of some of the great men of God in the Bible. Men who did some of the greatest exploits that have ever been done in the name of God. Men like King David, King Solomon and Joseph who we have read about, studied their lives and felt that we could never match up to their walk. Yet, these men reached such a great crisis point in their lives that some of them asked God to kill them and lamented their hatred for life (see Ecclesiastes 2:17).

I believe that Jesus of all men, suffered his own crisis of faith. Jesus is fully God, but He is also fully human. In the Garden of Gethsemane just before Jesus was arrested he prayed that if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me (Matthew 26:39-40). That “cup” to which Jesus refers is the suffering he was about to endure. It’s as if Jesus were being handed a cup full of bitterness and suffering with the expectation that He drink all of it. He struggled with the need to accept the torture and shame that awaited Him.

Walking Back from the Edge

All of these men ultimately chose not to abandon their faith. They were able to have a crisis and not lose their faith. How then do we overcome a crisis of faith? For me, it was important to be emphatic and patient with myself, and to examine my life to see if this was a gradual process. Our relationship with God is unique. Don’t compare your faith to others. Just because someone is praying more frequently than you or more active in fellowship doesn’t mean that God takes your concerns less seriously or that he loves you any less.

Like Jesus, my faith did not exempt me from life’s troubles. I experienced depression, and loss, and fear but nothing caused as deep a questioning of my faith as the loss of my son. I have come to realize that faith is not meant to be circumstantial. It means trusting in the midst of pleasant as well as painful situations. Acknowledging this did not silence the questions that arose, but I have embraced them as part of the process of growing as a person.

If you’re silently struggling with your faith, you are not alone. Many people are silently struggling with theirs. A crisis of faith could be a fundamental life trial. I am thankful for the few men and women in my life (both Christians and non Christians, Pastors, friends, colleagues and a professional therapist) who helped to walked me back from the edge of darkness. 

You can too. Talk to someone. Today I am more resilient.

In the meantime, keep your chin up and keep the Faith!

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