Thinking Out Loud

October 4, 2016

Fragile Faith

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:15 am

Regular readers here may have noticed that over the past two weeks there has been in an increase in the amount of re-purposed content on the blog. We’re in a period of great stress as a family and I’ve had to prioritize keeping Christianity 201 up-to-date over providing fresh material here.

I wrote some of this five years ago. I’ve added a little extra to it today. Right now, it’s more relevant than ever…

Faith Under Pressure

I’m going through a period of intense personal pressure and finding myself wondering about the condition and authenticity of my faith in light of the anxiety I am experiencing. There, I said it. Scratch my name off your list of Christian superstars. (Whaddya mean it wasn’t there?)

My mother often quoted Jeremiah 12:5 to me at times like this:


In the NIV it reads,

5 “If you have raced with men on foot
and they have worn you out,
how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in safe country,
how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?

In other words, if you panic and are stressed by a little pressure, what are you going to do when something serious happens? Except things these days are particularly overwhelming me. “The swelling of the Jordan,” so to speak.

I say all this to say that it is so easy to espouse certain positional truths in scripture, but it is another matter entirely to live out those things practically when circumstances require a response. 

At times like this — and there have been many lately — I have seriously questioned the genuineness of my faith. I have come to recognize over time that everyone is dealing with something, but the nature and duration of our situation has just seemed unusually cruel. I feel like there’s some lesson I’m to learn from all this, but until I learn it, the circumstances can’t change.

It’s one thing to know all the scriptures which offer the promise of peace in the middle of the storm, but it’s another thing to actually feel that peace descend on you as you expected it would. It’s one thing to know all the verses which speak of trusting and relying on God, but it’s another thing to be able to release that burden.

In other words, we generally have all the answers — for someone else. It’s easy to straighten out someone else’s life; it’s hard to accept God’s instructions when we are the ones under pressure.

Mind you, I can’t imagine not having God to turn to.


  1. First of all, Paul, be assured of my prayers during this time of stress and trial for you and your family. Your re-purposed article was timely and beautifully written.

    I have found that the Catholic approach to times of suffering has been so helpful to me.Their view is that the suffering gives me an opportunity to purify. I am not asking for the grace to endure but rather the grace to be a Christ like reflection while I am walking this difficult road.. Though I ask God to solve what I cannot, I also pray every day that the spiritual attributes that are weakest in me, be exercised and strengthened.

    It is easy to be a friend or spouse to one who is healthy and doing well. It is easy to pull my own patience and sympathy from the rather shallow well of natural responses and deal with a short term challenge. But, as in the case of my husband, the initial allergy of 4 years ago has now spiraled into a catastrophic number of allergies and has not only affected him, but has required life changing alterations in our way of living. Until I became aware of the Catholic teaching, my “grace’ was not true. I did what was required to deal with the issue but I did so as if my husband had become a burden (rather than the environmental disability). I now see his suffering first. God trusted me to tap into His resources and care for His aching son….I have learned to see it in that way.

    It is hard, and to deny that is futile. My daily prayer is “Help me to love with Your love, see with Your eyes and grow ever more dependent upon the spiritual graces that You promise”

    Comment by yokedwithhim — October 4, 2016 @ 8:43 am

  2. If I may weigh in on the subject as someone who has the luxury of not being in your situation…

    Your anxiety is a reflection of your humanity. You are carrying at least two huge burdens right now. And what Jesus said about yokes may be true, but it doesn’t always feel that way. I suppose I should have said it is true, but an intellectual assent probably seems insufficient. You have my permission to strangle the first person who sends you a copy of “Footprints.”

    I am not convinced that God keeps us in valleys until we have learned a lesson. Sometimes the lesson doesn’t become apparent until long after the event. How’s that for being encouraging?

    Sometimes I do wonder if some of our trials are rooted in Eden. We’re not going to learn any lessons from them, at least not in the way people mean when they talk about God teaching them things. It certainly isn’t fair to my human way of thinking that I am suffering consequences of something that Adam and Eve did or didn’t do.

    But that is my human way of thinking.

    Comment by Lorne Anderson — October 4, 2016 @ 9:00 pm

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