Twenty years ago, I spoke to a pastor who used to be nationally recognised as ‘the preacher’ on a particular Caribbean Island. He was the personality that all young preachers emulated. Much of the Church growth in more than a decade was credited to his preaching. He began to express doubt about the Bible and the story of creation when I met him some years later. During that time, he was completing a master’s degree, and some of the information he encountered began to sow hesitation in his heart about the biblical account. I spoke to another prominent pastor who began to question God’s actions in the Bible. He questioned how God could send Israel to destroy Canaan with newly birthed babies, innocent people, and children who had done nothing wrong. He wondered how God could instruct King Saul to destroy every living thing or person in Amalek. Another pastor: “During the second year of my PhD programme the pastor of the church left, and the governing board asked if I would serve as an interim pastor for a year. So, I did. I preached most weeks, even on the radio. Performed church duties and services, visited the sick and grieving. I organised and ran the whole thing and was losing my faith the entire time.
Pastors who spend time in the word and lead people to know God lose their spiritual marbles sometimes. What about you?
Genesis of failed faith.
What we do not see at times, is that while some people nourish others, they fail to feed themselves. From time to time, we will find mothers who behave in that manner. They give everything to their children and allow their bodies and soul to get depleted in the process. You can’t deplete yourself to the point of destruction. You must replenish your body and soul in order to be able to give more. So, for the same reason, pastors can lose focus and disconnect from God. While they gather knowledge and resource to feed others, they lose connectivity with God. So, doubting begins to take hold. In the same way we as Christians focus on everything else and renege on the nourishment of our souls.
There are other things that can impact failure of faith.
John the Baptist was one who began to lose his faith:
The famous wilderness preacher who was sent to prepare the way of the Lord started out confident and certain. When talking about Jesus, he said,” Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! And, I have seen, and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” But when he found himself in jail, he questioned if Jesus was really the Messiah. John sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the one.
Elijah was another whose faith waivered:
Elijah is known for prophesying drought and subsequently being fed by ravens and a widow before his epic challenge to the prophets of Baal on Mount Horeb. His faith moved the Lord God to answer by fire; Elijah killed all the false prophets and then prophesied rain. But when the king’s wife, Jezebel, heard about all of this, she threatened Elijah’s life. Elijah’s humanity kicked in as he ran for his life, sat under a broom bush wrestling with his faith and praying to die.
Even Jesus as a human struggled with doubt:
Jesus Christ knew who He was and how he was going to die. He said, “when you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” But in the garden of Gethsemane, He felt our humanity under intense pressure. He asked if there was another way (www.crosswalk.com).
What we learn from these three examples is that when you are alone or lonely, it encourages Satan’s boldness. And, when you depend on your humanity, you become defenseless, and the enemy will attack your faith.
Recovering from unbelief.
How does one recover from a crisis of faith? What happens when your confidence in God is shaken?
One option is to dig down deeper and become even more gung-ho in what you believe or totally discard it. Job became exponentially more committed to God whilst his wife unceremoniously rejected God or had a crisis of faith. We can blame Mrs. Job. But how many of us would not be tempted to follow Sister Job? Can you honestly assure me that having gone through her crisis that you would not be tempted to distrust God?
Most of us are not wealthy. However, if you had been serving God all your life and sacrificing for him; which of you would lose your house, your bank account the next, three of your children the following day; the bank seized the business the fifth day, and got a cancer diagnosis that sixth day for your husband or wife, and you would have no questions about God?
Even Jesus anticipated that our faith would be hindered.
But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22: 32.
Jesus did not only pray for his disciple Simon Peter; he prayed for all his disciples. He prayed for John, he prayed for James, he prayed for Simon, he prayed for Andrew, He prayed for Phillip, He prayed for Thomas, but most interestingly, He prayed for me, Augustus Henry.
John 17: 6-8, “For I gave them the words you gave me, and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. (9) I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.”
So, your first step to recovering faith is to acknowledge that Jesus has prayed for your preservation.
Also, when faith lapses, remember that neither you nor any other human being is the answer: The Bible says “Give us help or lord for vain is the help of man” Ps. 108:12 – the last time I check both you and I are in the same category as man. So, we have no solution for our failures. For that reason, we ask help from God. In addition, when faith fails, obedience should lead the way: even when Moses doubted God’s deliverance plan for the Israelites in Egypt, he obeyed anyway. Finally, remember the author and finisher of our faith, and the increaser of faith is Jesus (Luke 17:5).