Well, I've been working on this for hours. If you find any typos, or grammatical errors, it's because I've given up - I'm ready for bed! :o)
Part 1: A Crisis of Faith
Everyone who calls himself a “Believer”, a “Christian”, a “Follower”, (insert your own choice of title here) will at some time in their life come face to face with a crisis of belief. For the sake of this article, I am going to define the term this way: A Crisis of Belief – a time of great physical and/or emotional crisis during which one’s personal belief system is tried and tested.
So, there you have it, perhaps you’ve already experienced this yourself. Perhaps, you’ve already experienced several of these. If you are young, you may not have come to this place yet in your walk with the Lord, but rest assured, a time will come for you. Just as surely as it came for Peter on a number of occasions, the questions will come for you too, and perhaps you will be ready spiritually to answer them or perhaps you will be young in your faith and unsure how to answer them. Either way, they will come, and you will answer, and much about your life from that point on will revolve around the event/events preceding it and your answer.
Examples from the life of Peter:
- “’Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ’You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’” 1 Peter 16:15-16
- “‘It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’...And He said, ‘Therefore I have said to you that no one can come unless it has been granted to him by My Father.’ From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away’ but Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:63-67
- Sadly, it would be this same Peter who only a short time later would “begin to curse and swear, saying, ‘I do not know the Man!’” Matthew 26:74
- Thankfully, Christ would appear to Peter after His resurrection, giving Him 3 times to declare his love for Him, showing fruits of his repentant heart, and truly trusting in Christ, in John 21:15-17
And so it was, on April 10th, 1995, that a crisis entered my life that caused me to have to answer the same question – WHO IS HE?
Is He in fact the Christ, the Son of the Living God, as I professed Him to be in November of 1990. Is He my Rock and my Fortress, my God in whom I trust? Is He my Savior and my Redeemer? Is He the one who died to free me from my sin, and the curse that came with it?
Or, is all of this (the gospel/the Bible) some fantasy, some made up story created by man to help him cope with the events of this life? What is the purpose of life? Why am I here? What is all of this for? How do I find hope in the midst of death and disease? How is it possible that any good thing could come from all of this? How could this ever be something that would bring glory to God? The questions were unending and the answers were hard to grasp.
But, let me back up a tad, you have to know how I got here, right?
My husband and I married in April of 1990, as unbelievers. We were sinners of the worst kind (perhaps that’s a redundant statement). Anyway, we were not nice people. We were not even good people. I would later learn “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.” Romans 3:10-12, we had a lot of company, the whole world.
It would take entirely too long to go through the testimony of my experience of being born again here, and that is not the current topic at hand. But, suffice it to say, I was not looking for God. He was however looking for me. And one night, after reading the Bible (and I didn’t read the Bible as a matter of habit) I went to my knees in my living room before a loving, righteous, just God and stood up a new creation. At the same time, the Lord was at work in my husband’s heart as well, and he also came to Christ. We were both transformed – within days/maybe hours of one another. Praise be to God!
It was 4 years later that we would welcome our first child into the world, Kathryn Grace. She was the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen – of course – and we were so proud to be her parents. I remember those first months being so totally overwhelmed. We had no idea what we were doing. Oh yeah, parenting that first one is a doozy!!
Right away we knew that something was wrong. Born with a heart murmur (which runs in my family, along with a hereditary, genetic heart defect), she was immediately under the scrutiny of a pediatric cardiologist within days of her birth. The weeks, and months of that first year would bring continually worsening reports of her condition. Every visit to the doctor, the news became more grim, her condition more of a concern, and open heart surgery imminent. Every time I would even drive in the vicinity of University Hospital I would become sick to my stomach.
I remember the last time that we saw the cardiologist there before we flew to Boston for the angioplasty that would come before her surgery. My father was with me that day, and the news was really bad, she was very sick and thought to be in respiratory failure. As we left his office, I was trying to figure out how I was going to tell Todd, and my mother, and the people where I worked (a church), and our friends and family, and the people in our own church. I remember thinking about “disconnecting” myself from Kathryn emotionally because all of this was simply too painful to absorb. I knew that would be impossible - she was my baby, my child, my precious one – and yet I felt the need for some sort of self preservation, some kind of relief. I know now that there is no relief in matters such as these, you just have to walk through them, one second at a time, and He alone gives you the grace to do so.
Fast forward to April 6, 1995, the first of 4 days that would change us forever. Kathryn went to surgery, and five hours later she was on life support. Unable to come off of the bypass equipment once her surgery was completed, the doctors made the decision to put her on a device that would do the work of her ventricles, and leave her on a respirator. Then, they came out to tell us what they had done. We were dumbfounded, in shock, unable to process what had happened. I remember when the doctor left the “counseling” room how my mom and dad, and Todd and I stood there in disbelief. My dad finally broke the silence and told all of us to join him to pray. He turned towards the little sofa in the room and fell to his knees. The rest of us followed.
It was the first of many prayers prayed those 4 days, and on Monday she died.
It would take me 40 days to write out all of the details and would take you 30 to read it all, so I’m leaving much out, but it was then that the CRISIS began…
A lot of people would be looking to see if we believed what we had been saying we believed for the last 4 years. Was it really ALL about Christ? Does He REALLY love us? Does He REALLY want what was best for us? Does He REALLY have a plan? These and so many other questions would fill our minds, and the minds of those closest to us. Why would He take a child? Oh, the agony of the thoughts of those days are still so fresh, and my words seem completely incapable of describing to you what that feeling was like.
So what sort of conclusions did we come to amidst all of this questioning? It all finally boiled down to this: Yes, we believe He loves us more than anything, so much He gave His own life to save us. Yes, it is ALL about Christ! Yes, He does want what is ultimately best for us, even when that doesn’t look like what we think it should!
Yes, He really does have a PLAN! Could His decision to allow this child to die at 13 months of age have a purpose? YES! YES! YES! And again I say YES!
So, how does all of this parallel what Job experienced in his life? (Please keep in mind that as devastating as our experiences have been, I do not in any way want you to conclude that I believe we've lived a life anything like Job experienced! We were simply asked to share things that have happened in our lives that parallel lessons which can be gleened from the book of Job, and I am passing that "message" along to you all as well.)
Job lost all of his children at once. We only had one to lose, but we lost all that we had at once too. Thankfully, no one stood on the outside (or the inside as was Job’s case) telling us to “curse God and die” as his wife did to him in Job 2:9, but it was at this point that Job had his crisis of faith.
Would he continue to trust? Indeed he would, and we too have clung to his words in agreement since those days so many years ago… Job 2:10 “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”…and Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” And finally, Job 13:15, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…”
Do we really believe what we’ve professed and taught all these years?
Yes, and again I say, YES!!!
So here are your questions for reflection:
- Do you believe?
You see there are two types of belief: there is a belief that leads to salvation and one that does not. Which do you have? Do you have either? Read the following verses:
- Have you experienced a “Crisis of Belief” in your own life? What was it and what effect did it have on your relationship with the Lord? How did your response to the crisis affect how others see Christ in you? Do you consider how your behavior affects what others believe about Him, based on what you’ve professed to believe?
- If you have experienced a crisis of belief, did it leave you fearful of what else might happen in your life? Or, have you come to find a deep appreciation and love for the truth of God’s sovereignty in your life, and in all things? Do you understand what it means for God to be sovereign, or is this something you need to study further?
The next part of this series will focus on Job’s friends, our own fears, and the idea that sin can bring drastic consequences in our lives. We will examine whether or not bad things that happen come as a punishment for prior sins? So part two is, “Did I do something to cause this?”
As always, and especially today, I am abiding in His grace,