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October 9, 2007

A Crisis of Faith

How do we respond when we serve in a spiritual leadership position and face a crisis of faith? During these trials of seemingly unanswered prayer and unrelenting circumstances, we are shaken to the core. This can become so severe that we wonder if we've been betrayed by God himself. We reason that we are doing our best to fulfill our commitment to Christ, but it doesn't seem that he is pulling for us, but instead against us. Unanswered questions nag at our hearts: Is God really who he says he is? Can God do what he says he can do?

For years we have taught others that God is good, loving, and faithful. Now we wonder if it is really true. Besides our inner struggle we realize there are people who look to us as an example during these hardships.

I became fed up and very angry when I faced my own crisis of faith. A profound sense of abandonment settled over me. My prayers seemed distant and hollow. I didn't know what to do or how to how to respond.

My faith and my ministry were at a crossroads. I thought through my options. I could abandon my own faith, become a hypocrite, or work through this with the Lord. Option one would destroy my family. Option two went against my nature. I chose to pursue option three.

As long as I could remember, my relationship with the Lord meant everything to me. I couldn't bear to lose it. So I shared my struggle with my closest friends and family and solicited their prayers.

Scripture says to wait expectantly on the Lord. Day after day I did just that as I sat quietly in the early morning with my Bible open to Job and Psalms. I read Scripture and prayed honest, struggling prayers. I was desperate to hear some direction and assurance from God. More than a response to my unanswered prayer I needed to reconnect deeply with him.

The more I read the Bible, the more I was confronted with my own pride. I was demanding that God answer my prayers in ways that I deemed best based on my limited understanding. One verse that really stuck with me was Isaiah 7:9: "If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all." I prayed, "Lord, I believe. Please help my unbelief."

Scripture helped me see faith through God's viewpoint. It opened my eyes to see that our faith is very important to God. Phrases such as "your faith which is of greater worth than gold," "without faith it is impossible to please God," and "when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" haunted me. One morning I sensed the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart. "I am God. Trust Me." I finally yielded my painful circumstance and my life anew to God's plan and his glory. I began to see God's grace as he tested my faith to strengthen it.

Life can be intensely difficult. At times trials can seem unbearable. I still live with the same circumstances that tested my faith many years ago. Yet God continues to show himself faithful to me and my family. He reminds me that my life is not my own, that there is a plan beyond what I can see, and that my faith means more to God that I can imagine.


I just taught a message about faith this past Sunday at our church. I used some of these very same scriptures. Funny, that while I am teaching it, I am currently facing my own "crisis of faith." Thank you for your wise words of encouragement, Sherryl. This is exactly what I needed to hear right now.

Sherryl I appreciate your honesty - and your humility. It's so hard to find a way to process our own spiritual development when in leadership. Your willingness and discipline to wait on God is such a good model for us to see.


I was greatly encouraged by your article which was replete with honesty, pain and a firm commitment to trust God in the midst of your seemingly unending trial. Your chosen path to solution is time tested. Thanks for the reminder that God is there at all times even when we can't immediately sense His Presence.

Eleanor Henderson

Good for you, Sherryl, and if this soul-wrenching activity helps you, go with it. But it doesn't work for all of us. I tried what you say you tried, but to no avail. I'm worse off now than I was, and others around me, who know my situation, doubt more now than they used to. This certainly can't be the results desired by a God who's PROMISED to be there. If I had a father who left me to "deal with" a time like this, he would certainly not be accepted by folks like you as a good father. In fact, he'd probably be charged with neglect. I believed this stuff for years, and still struggle to teach it (I'd lose my job and livelihood if I quit), but I can't see any evidence for it. It's easy to teach it when it works; maybe your struggle came from its ineffectiveness in your life. Maybe you'd be released from "this same circumstance" if you released yourself from this bond. Where's your PHYSICAL EVIDENCE for the hanging-on? I certainly wish you luck, but I wouldn't bet my life on it. When I did, I almost lost it.

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