Facing Challenges To Faith
... being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
Eventually your faith will be challenged, no matter how strong or how weak it is. It may be challenged by an agnostic professor; or perhaps more likely it will be challenged by the trials of life. Sooner or later something happens and your heart cries out, "Lord, I just cannot handle this." It may be a child's illness, or a marriage that turns sour, or a business deal which has not gone well.
It happened to Carolyn when her husband announced that he was more in love with his administrative assistant than with her. It happened to one father I know when his little boy died. At the funeral he caught himself saying, "God, I'll get even with you if it's the last thing I ever do...."
It happened to another friend when his wife died on the operating table, and she had undergone the operation at his urging. The husband said, "Lord, I just can't handle this." What do you do when there is something which you can't handle? Turn and run? Shake your fist in the face of God? Or what? It is the what that I want to talk about.
Physics teaches that the ability of a superstructure to withstand stress is directly related to the strength of the foundation. Even nature teaches this. When the wind rages, it is the tree whose roots have sunk deep into the earth that is left standing when the calm finally comes; therefore, one of the ways to prepare for the coming stress, which might cause you to throw up your hands and say "I can't handle this," is to strengthen the foundation.
When the foundation of your faith is shaken, go first of all to the Word of God and take refuge in this Book. There are dozens of promises with your name attached to them. In the Word you begin to see life from His perspective. You begin to think God's thoughts. You begin to understand that "what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18). When your faith is challenged take a look at the circumstances, and then look at the circumstances of individuals in the Bible. Match up their problem with yours and notice how God met them.
Are you discouraged? Read about Elijah in I Kings 19. Are you feeling the pain of rejection or a broken home? Read the story of Hosea in the Old Testament. Are you struggling with injustice? Read about Habakkuk, who cried out, "How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?" (Habakkuk 1:2). Are you suffering physically? Then turn to the Book of Job and notice that when Job's faith was tested, he cried out, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."
When I shared a conference with Dr. Lehman Strauss, one morning Dr. Strauss opened his heart and told of the way his own faith had been challenged when his lovely wife of almost 50 years was felled by a stroke. The day finally came when doctors told him that he should remove her from the hospital to a convalescent hospital.
Dr. Strauss told her and then said, "But Elsie, God is in control." Then he broke down as he cried, "Elsie, is God really in control?" A man whom I considered to be a giant struggled spiritually, as we all do from time to time, but he did not quit. "All I could do," said Dr. Strauss, "was to fall back on the Word."
"My heart is leaning on the Word," wrote Liddie Edmund years ago, "the written Word of God. Salvation by my Savior's name; Salvation through His blood." Remind yourself of the truth of God's Word and that He is honor‑bound to keep His Word. "...I know whom I have believed," wrote the Apostle Paul long ago, "and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day" (2 Timothy 1:12).
Resource reading: Philippians 1