As a pastor I sometimes meet people who are struggling with their faith and are even contemplating giving up on God or church. They’ve perhaps become disappointed & disillusioned with their faith. They’re losing faith with faith! It sucks. It simply doesn’t appear to work for them or fails to live up to what was promised!
Although there are many reasons for losing faith, I’ve identified just seven:
1. BAD EXPERIENCES
Life is challenging! Bad stuff happens to good people. God doesn’t always intervene. As I look back at my life – there have been many challenges and difficulties. I have experienced disappointments, losses, bereavement, troubles, attacks, disloyalty, sickness and debt.
There have been times when I wondered where God was and what He was doing especially during those times when He didn’t appear to answer my prayers….when doors didn’t open, debts weren’t cleared, healing didn’t occur and people died way to young! It’s tempting during those times to blame God and conclude ‘my faith sucks!’ Most of us, if we’re honest, have been there.
Does your faith suck – because you’ve had a bad experience and blame God?
The apostle Paul is a great example to us of how to react to trials and difficulties…he’d been through some stuff! He said:
“We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralised; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorised, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken…..
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”
(2 Corinthians 4:7-12, 16-18 MSG)
Can I encourage you today to keep going and not to give up!
Being a Christian will not mean your life is perfect, peaceful and always victorious! In fact sometimes living victoriously means coming through trials with God’s help rather than God banishing the trial!
How will does your faith grow? Through unavoidable rials & troubles.
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4 MSG)
Don’t lose heart! Don’t blame God! Don’t give up! Keep going! Don’t lose you faith! Let your faith grow strong, mature and fully developed! It will be worth it!
2. BETTER AT LISTENING THAN DOING!
I’m constantly told at home that I don’t listen and when I do listen that I don’t necessarily do what I’m told!!! In fact I’ve made it clear to my wife that once she’s told me to do something – she doesn’t need to remind me every day for six months!
James has some great advice for us:
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
I guess James is saying – ‘guys there’s nothing wrong with your hearing – it’s your doing!’ The simple fact is this – we have the Bible, the messages, podcasts, conferences, Christian TV…..we have more resources to help us live by faith than any previous generation and certainly way more than the early church and yet ‘our faith still sucks!’
It’s a puzzle….unless of course we haven’t yet learned to practise the basic Christian ‘disciplines’ of faith that the Bible encourages. How about living by His Word for a month and seeing if there is a change to your faith….
3. FAITH NOT BEING STRETCHED
In England one of the earliest forms of torture was to stretch people. I can remember visiting museums and castles as a child and seeing some of those racks! Not good! As Christians we sometimes appear to avoid any form of faith stretches.
God wants us to flex our faith muscles and give them a stretch. It’s good for us! Our faith is stretched by sacrifice, commitment, risk, giving, serving, praying, doing things we’ve never done before, Sharing our faith, using our gifts etc. Tragically we’re settling for a poor man’s version of faith – ‘Faith Lite’ if we don’t allow our faith to be stretched.
How many times have you:
- Sat on the fence or held back when commitment was required?
- Sidestepped or ignored the same challenge from God?!
- Stepped back from stepping out and watched someone else take your place and do well and been gutted (that could have been me!)
- Failed to use those wonderful spiritual gifts that God has given you?
- Allowed the enemy to rob you of a learning, faith building, growth experience.
Your faith will suck – if you don’t allow your faith to be stretched or if you fail to use what God has uniquely shaped you to use! Paul had to remind Timothy:
“And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.”
(2 Timothy 1:5-7 MSG)
The Christian walk is supposed to be a supernatural walk, a faith walk – it will always suck when we opt for ‘faith lite!’
4. NEVER DISCOVERED FELLOWSHIP WITH HOLY SPIRIT
I remember as a young man riding miles on my motorcycle in deep snow to visit my girlfriend – I just wanted to see her for an hour! When you first fall in love you cannot wait to spend time with each other. You probably spend hours together just gazing in each other’s eyes, whispering sweet nothings, listening to every word. You just can’t get enough of the other persons company!
Our most important relationship is the one with the Holy Spirit of God.
He is God. He is our source. He is the Vine – we are the branches. Everything we need is found in Him. Our relationship with God is just like any other – we will benefit from investing in it!
So I wonder – What’s your most important relationship on earth like?!
Your faith will suck – if your relationship with God is poor! Any would!! Is it time to do the things you did at first?!
Is it time to invest in that most important of relationships? Any relationship will go stale fairly quickly if we don’t invest in it. Quality time is needed to worship, love, talk, pray, listen and share your life with the one who gave His life for you. If you’re serious about your relationship with God you’ll make some serious time for Him.
5. NOT FEEDING REGULARLY ON THE WORD OF GOD
I’ve never understood people who miss breakfast! I’m usually starving my morning – so whether it’s cereals, porridge, pancakes or bagels – my body needs nourishment! Jesus taught the disciples to pray ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ We need the nourishment that only God’s Word can bring. I know lots of people who start the day with social media, papers or TV News – that’s such a shame and a loss. I love reading a short segment of God’s Word every morning. It sets me up for the day. Social media can wait!
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
There are so many benefits:
- I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit regularly when I’m reading the Word.
- I’m reminded of what God has already said!
- I feel fed, nourished and encouraged.
- I read things that challenge & encourage me to live more like Jesus.
- I see new things all the time that edifying me and build me up
- I’m reminded of God’s amazing promises – I read them out loud and form prayers around them.
Is it time that you made reading God’s word part of your daily routine again?
6. NEVER TRULY LEARNED TO FOLLOW CHRIST
Jesus said to his disciples ‘follow me’ – two simple words that would have massive consequences for them…….
His call remains ‘follow me’ and the apostle Paul would say ‘follow me as I follow Christ…’
True following means:
- sacrifice – to be honest – anything of real value/worth in this world rarely comes without sacrifice of some kind.
None of these things are popular in this world of ‘ME.’ The truth is that our faith will ‘suck‘ and struggle to grow unless we really learn to follow where He leads. Sadly few Christians are willing to do this – to their loss….
‘Some say it is costly to follow Christ. The truth is that the cost of not following Christ is immeasurably higher.’ (IHOPKC)
The tragedy is this – following Jesus was intended by God to be an amazing adventure rather than some wearying journey. Some of us have become like those petulant children that we come across in shopping malls & supermarkets – being dragged, kicking & screaming to their destination. My friend – this is not what God intended for you! (John 10:10)
7. NO SENSE OF CALL OR PURPOSE IN LIFE
I have a dear school friend who spent the first 30+ years of his life not knowing what to do with it – he went from job to job and relationship to relationship (I’m glad to say he’s happily married now with a job he loves!)
Rick Warren commences his great book ‘Purpose Driven Life’ with the question : ‘What on earth am I here for?!’
Have you worked it out yet?!
It’s not just ministers & missionaries who are called. We are all called to specific purposes ordained by God before the beginning of time. We’re all uniquely shaped for certain things. God said to Jeremiah:
““Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations— that’s what I had in mind for you.””(Jeremiah 1:5 MSG)
Have you discovered what God had specifically in mind for you?!
Can I encourage you to start serving at your church, join a team and try a few things until you find your niche. Don’t wait to be asked – volunteer and serve with all your heart until God shows you what it is He has particularly called you to do.
FACT – If you’re not discovered your purpose in life and are not serving God or His people – your faith will suck!
As a pastor – I love to see people grow and mature in their faith and it breaks my heart when they give up. You need to know this – the devil, who is very real, is after you! (Rev. 12:12)
- His sole purpose is to wreck your Christian faith – to steal, kill and destroy your faith and relationship with God!
- He wants your faith to suck!
- He wants you to lose interest, lose faith and give up!
- He wants you to become doubtful, disbelieving, disillusioned and discontent!
- He wants you to feel like you’re a rubbish Christian and give up! (We all feel like this at times!)
- He will try and isolate you and cut you off from fellowship!
- He does not want you to get close to God!
- He’ll do anything he can to stop you praying, reading, giving, serving, discovering gifts, take risks….
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.” (1 Peter 5:8)
Whilst the devil might be after you – mustn’t forget that we are on the VICTORY side! Our God is greater, our God is stronger and He has given us the tools to succeed and prosper (they’re listed above). Now our job is to go out, with God’s help, and fully live out our Christian lives to His glory! I’m praying for you that your faith will not fail.
Do you know anyone who is struggling with their faith right now. Why don’t you share this article with them and remember to pray for them.