Tag Archives: Doubt

What Happens to Our Faith When God Disappears?

Christian faith is often brittle. It’s often punctuated with moments of doubt. Persecution. Isolation. Fear.

We can sometimes spend entire nights staring at the ceiling or pacing the floor praying, “God, I cannot do this unless I know you are with me. Where are you? Don’t hide. Please. I need you.”

It’s as if God’s gone AWOL.

Michael Patton  when his sister died.

It was a devastating buzz kill to a man who was a seminary superstar on a spiritual high, always optimistic when everyone else was in the dumps…

Always seeing the good in the evil.

However, this tragedy caused enormous confusion.

And he couldn’t shake it.

Spiritual Loneliness and Our Circumstances

Since that time he’s had his ups and downs. Exhausted from ministry and struggling to provide for his family, you could easily say that when he wrote that post he’d spent an extended period in the downs.

But don’t count him out.

In the midst of his painful post he writes:

Those of you atheists and former Christians who suspect that they are about to have another Christian cross over to the dark side, put up your party hats, blowouts, and (ahem) cake. I am not close. One thing that I have learned, believe, and teach with great conviction is that my circumstances do not have a vote in truth. Nothing that I go through can alter or affect the cardinal issues of my faith. Jesus Christ either died and rose from the grave or he did not. It is upon this that the entirety of my faith rests.

Here’s the deal: Our faith will be assaulted…and then weakened. But true saving faith will always prevail because it’s not dependent upon our circumstances.

It’s dependent on something more concrete.

What Does Spiritual Growth REALLY Look Like?

The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints doesn’t mean our Christian life is one of steady upward growth without failure.

Yes, it’s upward. But it looks more like a saw-tooth than a gentle slope toward the sky.

Any Christian can relate: We can go from an acute sense of holiness and the presence of God to very bad sin and feelings of isolation all the way back to a so-called intimacy–within weeks…or even days.

 doesn’t mean we won’t sin or experience despair. Nor does it mean we won’t sin or despair GRIEVOUSLY. Truly regenerate Christians can commit murder, adultery and even publicly reject Christ.

They even can live in depression. But NEVER persistently. The Bible is clear: A Christian can fall. And fall hard. But not fully or finally.

Spiritual Growth Involves War

Our faith is weak. And we will naturally be bruised as we fight the good fight of faith. The Bible promises us a war.

Thing is, we’ll never be abandoned during that war. Even when it feels like God has gone AWOL.

Martin Luther stood alone at the Diet of Worms against the most powerful men of his time. He spent the prior night praying in agony. He knew he could not do what he was going to do unless God was behind him.

In his :

My persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

In the same letter Paul uncovers his own despondency when he declares: “No one came to stand by me. All deserted me…. But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me. …The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom.”

We are in good company when we experience despair and pain. Furthermore, we also know that we will be victorious. God will rescue us because Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith.

And what is our faith? , “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for.” Our hope in Christ is the anchor of our soul.

What Faith Is and Isn’t

This is not faith AGAINST the evidence. But a faith of substance. Nor is it a faith in skimpy evidence…and we’re told to believe anyway.

It is not ephemeral and wishful, but rooted in the historical life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s based upon the manifold evidence that Christ is God’s son.

And that he came to redeem the world.

Faith is a gift from God. He is the author of that faith. He’s also responsible through the Holy Spirit to nourish that faith. And we have God’s promise that he will not abandon that work–but finish it.

And that’s why in the midst of doubt or trials Michael Patton, Martin Luther, the Apostle Paul and even Demian Farnworth can say, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom.”

Why You Must Endure My Half-Baked Posts

What are the payoffs to working through your doubts about Christianity? One is you won’t base your faith on half-baked ideas. There are more.

I’m out of the office today.

Either tromping around the  with the girl and boy or fingering dusty binders on some old books at .

My wife?

She’s on the lam in Colorado Springs rubbing shoulders with  Alton Gansky, Kathryn Mackel, Nancy Rue and Angela Hunt.

All fiction writers. All fine people. [So I’m told.]

They’re staying at the  for a writer’s workshop.

She’ll be back late Wednesday night. Like 11:30 PM. So I’m Mr. Mom for the next couple of days.

And since I won’t be anywhere near a laptop, I thought I’d make it a lightweight day and run some things by you.

This Is the Time When I Run Some Things by You

First, thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing posts by email. Thank you for linking. Thank you for tweeting.

And thank you for subscribing.

At times, I’m really at a loss why over 150 people would find me the least bit interesting. But you do. And I thank God for that.

Second, thank you for your comments. Thank you for your constructive criticism. And thank you for your encouragement.

My Weakness: Half-Baked Posts

Sometimes I feel like I’m publishing half-backed ideas.

But know this: I put a lot of time into each post. Anywhere from 1-5 hours. Maybe longer. Just depends on the length, subject matter or personal deadlines…

So when I say “half-baked,” I’m being marginally insincere.

One thing I do know. I haven’t mastered Christianity. Calvinism. Apologetics. Even writing. So, lots of times I launch posts knowing I’ve missed something…and some very smart people will ding me.

That’s what I want.

See, I’m a firm believer in the concept “.” Meaning, I write something as best as I can, launch it and let my “beta readers” shoot holes in it…

Then, some time down the road approach the topic again, hopefully rolling out a better baked blog post.

What I’m Not Saying and What I Am Saying

Not that I think you can experiment or innovate with Christianity…or always get at it with trial and error. Rather, think of it as struggling. Wrestling with the tough issues. Exposing soft spots in our thinking.

This is theology. And since we’re all theologians, it’s okay.

It’s okay as Christians to admit we don’t have all the answers. It’s okay to admit we find God’s wrath difficult. To admit we find some biblical passages down-right baffling.

Let’s not be plastic people.

Instead, let’s be people who struggle to understand their faith. Who refuse to be spoon fed.

What’s the Payoff?

Getting the non-negotiables right. Anchoring our faith deeper in the bedrock of Christ. Owning the hope that’s been passed onto us.

That, to me, is a worthy goal. And it reflects that old saying, “You don’t cherish a thing unless you work hard for it.” Let’s work hard for our faith. Even if it means we fall on our faces occasionally.

The last thing I want to do is to base my faith on a half-baked idea. What about you?