Written by Jonathan Malm, USA
In my 30 years, I’ve never really questioned my faith all that much. I’ve wondered about evolution and about the problem of evil existing in the world. But they’ve just been simple curiosities; they didn’t rock my world.
Lately, however, I’ve found myself questioning what I believe. I wouldn’t call it a crisis of faith, but I have some legitimate questions that have been shaking me up a bit. All of this started in my most recent reading of the Bible. I’m not sure if it was because I’m reading it chronologically or because I’m reading with a more critical eye. But something was different this time.
As I read through the Old Testament, I began questioning the nature of God—He seemed pretty harsh sometimes. And in the Gospels, I noticed some of the stories didn’t seem to line up. How did the disciples report Jesus sweating drops of blood when they were supposedly asleep? And why did John report the story of the woman caught in adultery since it wasn’t in some of the earlier manuscripts?
Am I worried that I’m questioning what I believe? Not really. You see, I’m convinced questions and even crises of faith aren’t a bad thing. I believe each crisis and question is an opportunity for God to show us something unique about Him. It could be one small facet of His character that we have not seen before because we have not gone through this experience. We just have to navigate our questions with wisdom and skill.
Have you found yourself questioning what you believe? Try following these three steps, which have helped me come out from a crisis of faith—even stronger than before.
1. Don’t let emotions dominate.
Most crises of faith are sparked by a tragedy or God doing something that catches us off guard. Those things may spark the questions, but don’t let them dominate your emotions. Don’t let a negative emotion pull you away from your faith.
When tragedy strikes, we’re often quick to ask the question, “Why?” The problem is, there’s usually never a good answer for it. Even if God gave us the answer, it wouldn’t satisfy us because the pain is too great. Our emotions will almost always argue against the logic of a situation. For instance, I know God had great plans for me in spite of that one time when I lost my job. I’ve even seen the positive results. But the sting of rejection is still there, and I still am tempted to ask, “Why?”
Instead, it’s important to proclaim the truth of God. Rely on the fact that we know God is loving; He is good. As much as we can, set the emotions aside and be open to what we have learned and experienced in the past.
2. Lean into people. Don’t withdraw.
A natural thing to do when we start questioning our faith is to pull away from the church. Don’t do that. Stay rooted in your community. Take the step to reach out to people and ask your questions. Your pastor and the congregation can lead you to resources and answers to some of your toughest questions. That’s what the community of believers is all about. One part of the body helps the other.
Unfortunately, this sort of approach takes humility. We have to be willing to set aside how “spiritual” we look and tell people where we’re struggling. I’ve seen way too many people who appeared to be rocks in the faith, suddenly fall away from the church because it turned out they had hidden questions that were not dealt with. They were just too ashamed to ask.
Imagine what might have happened if they had let their pride down and leaned into their group of fellow believers.
3. Ask God to reveal Himself.
Finally, we have to realize there are some questions even C.S. Lewis can’t answer adequately for us. If our crisis of faith is a chance for us to see a side of God that few get to see, then few will be able to answer our questions. We have to lean on God for that.
I’m convinced that the fullness of God is revealed only in the thousands of different perspectives we see within the church. Just like Moses was only allowed to see a part of God’s glory—not His face—none of us can possibly comprehend the fullness of God on our own. Our questions and crises of faith might be the chance God will use to show us a side of Him few others see. We might just get a glimpse of a lesser-seen aspect of His glory.
Ask God to reveal Himself to you. He might not give you all the answers to all your questions. But God has a way of giving you peace in spite of your questions. Give God a chance to defend His name to you.
You don’t have to be afraid of questioning your faith. It holds up to questioning. Just make sure you’re giving God a chance to answer them.
I’ve found that my questions only enrich my faith even more as I lean on God and my history of belief in Him. I still have questions. But just as I can’t explain how my eyes work—the process of color and depth and response—I can still choose to see through them. And I have decided to see my life through the lens of faith, even when all the answers aren’t there.