Sometimes you are faced with difficult choices or there are unpleasant or uncertain times. Prayers do not seem to offer any ready-made solutions. Or praying seems almost impossible; words do not come, reluctance to pray or getting blocked from the inside. And then you start to doubt, your faith seems to become "thinner" and you just do not know it anymore. Recognizable? Hopefully this paper will help you in a practical and personal way, so that you can topple those valleys or convert them into restored trust and encouragement!
Direct environment often reacts nasty
If you seek help from your direct, religious environment because of diminishing faith or even a crisis of faith, you will soon get moralizing sermons or Bible texts shot at you, in which fear or doubts then show 'unbelief' and thus reprehensible behavior. What should you do with such reactions if, for example, you have great sadness due to persecution or are afraid, or because of the lack of protection or guidance,or when you are in doubt GOD and Jesus? Such moralizing expressions then only hurt even more and make your valley of faith even deeper which will make you even more lonely and desperate ...
And what if you also add that you yourself made mistakes, committed missteps or failed to do things, so you came into those faith problems ?! Then it is all quickly dismissed as your own fault. That is if you dare to talk about that anyway ...
Honestly lasts the longest
The truth, however, is that everyone knows about those peaks and valleys in faith. And also that just as everyone makes mistakes, missteps or commits sins or fails to do things. Everybody! So talking about morals or hitting someone with Bible texts is rather unfair and impersonal and impractical. Being honest about your own doubts, problems, sins and past is then in order. In this way you get equality in communication, comparability of problems and in faith you both grow and also to oneanother. This way you strengthen each other in faith!
To go from valley to normal faith
But how to deal with a crisis of faith yourself? That is quite difficult and needs patience, tenacity and time. And above all your daily prayers, but also by reading from your Bible (Psalms !!).
Daily prayer is really necessary. To begin with asking forgiveness where your mistakes or sins are the cause of your personal crisis. Pray as personal as possible; with all your feeling, conscience and sincerity. After these persistent requests for forgiveness, you can also ask for help with your faith problems and life problems. Usually these two problems go hand in hand and reinforce each other. Ask GOD in Jesus name or Jesus directly to break through those problems and ask for help, encouragement, guidance, wisdom and blessing. At the same time, it is important to praise GOD and Jesus. Certainly when you have grief, pain, fear and powerlessness in your life! Tell them how happy you are with them, how much you need them, how happy you are with the cross offering of Jesus, how wonderful it is that GOD sent us Jesus. How powerful GOD is and how patient and involved with you. Pray and sing only what you really mean and what really plays a role in your heart and faith !!
If your cause is disappointment, impotence or grief of your valley in faith you realize that GOD is not primarily the cause of this, but that HE can help, can turn things around or lead you on a different road than you are on or have chosen. So there are many possibilities to come out of your disappointment, impotence or grief and even to grow in faith and joy. Always ask forgiveness of bitter, saltless or accusatory behavior to GOD and stop this behavior from now on. And decide every time those feelings re-emerge and send you in repeated behavior to thank GOD, praise and even sing to HIM! Praise HIM, also praise Jesus. And involve them in everything you do; even before you do something. Ask in prayer for help, wisdom, insight, blessing, encouragement, and so on.
Every faith valley needs patience, but also commitment and more commitment. Just one prayer and then continue does not usually bring about lasting change or improvement.
If persecution, violence or intimidation is the cause of your crisis: peace, encouragement and comfort are very important! Crying is always good for starters. Sing to GOD or Jesus too; certainly also with praise and thanks. Certainly when the world makes it difficult or impossible for you. And also that in all your grief, pain and misery you go directly to GOD in Jesus name or to Jesus directly to pray. Tell them what happened, lay down all your pain, sadness, powerlessness and incomprehension. Ask for encouragement, help, sent helpers, for comfort, that pain goes away, for healing of wounds and for wisdom of attitude and behavior.
When nasty thoughts or sadness are overtaking you: sing or pray or pray. That you are grateful for what GOD gives you, for his patience, commitment and blessing. How lovingly you find them. How happy you are with the cross offering that Jesus brought for you and endured that misery. Praise God's omnipotence and that He sent us Jesus. And keep praying. Be honest, open, direct and pray from your heart. Do not give up, but grow again in trust and thank again when you find yourself blessed, helped or encouraged.
A faith mountain causing a crisis of faith?!?
Yes: that is also possible - it goes so well that you are dazzled by success, become overconfident, arrogant, numb, etc. and you are suddenly confronted with it personally. You may have thought that you were great, that you were doing a great job and that you were very blessed. And thus you forgot that trials, sufferings and misery usually will happen to all Christians. Even within great blessing your life may seem very ordinary, boring or grind. And maybe even cause burnout or depression (which is also possible in a life of grief and persecution, of course). Or dissatisfaction and self-pity. In that way getting in the way of your faith. And if you then sail off your faith mountain, it can suddenly go very quickly downhill!
Here too, forgiveness prayers are needed. Pray and mention where you were blessed and how much you liked it. That you are ashamed of your lack of gratitude in compassion or that you forgot to thank. And ask forgiveness where you did people wrong or short. And on the way back to a normal faith try to thank and praise; and to keep an eye and ear for the fellow human beings. And also thank them for help and involvement. Singing and expressing yourself in simplicity is also important. Keeping patience and staying steadfast is also the last thing here.
All Christians will face trial, suffering and misery; sooner or later. Apart from the fact that you need faith and growth of faith, it is also important to know that you are determined by how you are in your daily life and even more how that can be done better, in love, righteousness and truth. In that way being a Christian is a good example for others. And what you yourself have gone through you can share again in a personal way with other Christians in similar circumstances. That way it remains genuine, sincere and alive for Christians. This way you are encouraging, helpful and comforting in a practical way. So you are there for your Christian neighbor.
Being there for others
Christian of perfect?!