I imagine we have all been there. We have been at that place where it seems our faith is sinking. We are drifting, each day, a bit further from the Lord. It's not that we want to, but what can we do? Hopefully, these brief thoughts can help you or someone you know turn the drifting tide and set a course back to strong headwinds of faith in the Lord.
Reflecting on these thoughts, I was reminded of a man who approached Jesus on behalf of his son. His son was possessed by a spirit that took his speech and would throw him into violent convulsions. The father asked Jesus, if anything could be done, to take pity on them and help. Jesus, standing before the father tells him anything can be done if you believe. It's the response of the father that strikes me. "Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mk. 9:24). Although we may not experience these same circumstances, in some ways, I think most of us can relate to the question, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" As the father expressed, let me offer a few brief suggestions for when we struggle with belief and the sinking feeling of an unbelieving faith.
Step In Not Back
When our faith is struggling, we often step back or step away. Is it embarrassment, a feeling of hopelessness, or perhaps just an empathetic attitude? It could be some of all the above. I have noticed that when our faith struggles, we often step further away from the Lord and the community of faith. When you notice a tendency to withdraw, I want to encourage you to step in. Now is not the time to step back. More than ever, we need to be intentional about stepping in when we feel like stepping back.
Cry Out To The Lord
Prayer is both effective and powerful. We may not feel like praying when our faith is weak. However, I would encourage you to be honest, real, and even raw in your prayers. Some of the prayers we read in the Psalms are raw, authentic, and emotional prayers. In Psalm 142, David echoes a prayer of mercy to the Lord. He poured out his complaints and told the Lord his troubles. His spirit, as he said, grew faint. David, in his prayer, is open and honest with the Lord. Be intentional and step into prayer. Be honest with the Lord and express what you are struggling with.
Engage the Scriptures
Reading the Bible can be challenging. Reading God's Word can be even more difficult when our faith is sinking. Don't step back, step in. Through the Scriptures, we gain wisdom, peace, and comfort.
"The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes."
Through the Scriptures, we are drawn back to the Lord. Like refreshing winds, His Word can turn us from drifting.
Awaken To Worship
It's not that we need to wake up each morning with a song in our hearts, although that would not be a bad idea. But awaken your life to worship. Remind yourself of the Lord's goodness, blessings, and faithfulness. Step forward and be intentional with gratitude. Pause several times a day and spend a few moments in worship. As you consider the Lord's goodness and mercy, praise Him. Often, in doing so, our spirits will be refreshed.
"It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night"
Gratitude can change the tide. When we awaken to worship, our hearts can overflow with thanksgiving.
Evaluate Your Surroundings
There is little doubt that our lives are busy. Often, the swirling business can overtake us before we realize it. Is it time to evaluate? There may be so much going on in our lives that we simply are not giving time for our faith to grow. The disciples were startled when Jesus was seen walking toward them on the water. They had trouble believing it was Jesus and not a ghost. “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water” (Matt. 14:28). For a few brief moments, Peter was walking on the water! But, he saw the wind, became afraid, and began to sink. Before we realize it, the swirling business can overtake us and cause distractions. Evaluate what is going on around us. Are we so busy that we are distracted? Have we lost focus on Jesus standing in front of us? It may be that we need to eliminate distractions so that we allow ourselves time to focus on Jesus.
Jesus did not allow Peter to sink; He will not allow your faith to sink. Jesus reached out His hand and caught Peter. Step in, step forward and not back; Jesus is ready to stretch out His hand and embrace you. When our faith feels like it is sinking, step forward. It's time to step out of the boat drifting along, tossed by the waves, and be intentional about stepping toward Jesus.
Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011).