A Crisis of Faith can come in different forms, even to those with lifelong faith and a full dedication of their lives to God or Jesus.
Some find that religion or scripture, as it is taught commonly in churches and synagogues, has all the answers one needs to live a good, happy and productive life. Surprisingly, however, faith is hard to hold onto for many.
Those who decide to dive deeper into their faith are sometimes faced with difficult crises they need to then navigate in order to hold onto their faith.
One of the early reviewers of my religious fiction book, Crisis of Faith, was the Reverend Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones of the landmark downtown Manhattan church, Trinity Wall Street. An author himself, his endorsement was a high hope, and fortunately it came. His words are actually challenging to readers:
“Crisis of Faith offers the reader a chance to enter into a deeper experience of faith. Each page challenges us to examine what we think, say, believe, and do about God. In truth, there is no mature faith without a crisis of faith and this book invites us to have one. All who profess a belief in God must read this book.”
His words were most welcome and encouraging. And, upon some months of reflecting on his words “In truth, there is no mature faith without a crisis of faith,” I have also come to believe it is so. Many of those who have developed a deep trust in God have arrived there not by being born or led into a blind, blissful faith, but with considerable effort at times when their faith becomes tested.
The types of crises of faith vary widely. My book highlights several forms of faith crises, but in reality there are many types of crises people face in their lives. Some people find they have problems with scriptures or doctrine. Some have trouble reconciling science with religion.
Some find that hypocrisy and the behaviors of religious leaders in contrast to their teachings is proof of sorts that religion is impossible to practice and sets people up for failure. Some find the messages of the sermons problematic in their lives. Some find that religious people are more discriminating and less accepting than other people. Some blame God for events in their lives, especially loss. Some look around and feel that God is strangely absent from all the praying people on earth and feel hopeless at times that God even exists. When natural disasters strike, when wars break out and when the hardships of humanity seem unbearable, many question the presence of God in the world and wonder how much, if any, control God has.
Perhaps the opposite can also be said, although the rate of change may be quite different. No one knows for sure. It may not be that for each Crisis of Faith there is a corresponding new faith found here on earth. But, we know that often miracles, ministries or those living their faith as a strong example to others reach through to people who previously had little or no faith and win over new believers.
For example, I personally know a couple that had a terrible prognosis for their child who was soon to be born with horrifying medical problems. After being prayed for steadily by a Christian couple who even began fasting for them, the child was miraculously born healthy and remains healthy today. The surprised new parents immediately converted to Christianity and started a mission church in a very non-Christian part of the world, which they still run today.
The idea that faith is permanent for most people is proving to be highly untrue. People move in and out of levels of faith, sometimes due to circumstances and sometimes according to predictable phases of life. Older people often move into new or stronger relationships with God. Younger people, when moving off to colleges and moving around to take advantage of job opportunities, organizing their own schedules and setting their own priorities for the first time, often drop off with their faith somewhat. But, by the time they have kids they often reconnect with the religious communities and traditions they were raised in, with the hope of creating a faith foundation for their own children.
Statistics show that people often change faiths as well, at least here in the U.S. According to a Pew Forum Study in 2009, some 50% of Americans change faiths at least once in their lives. That may be a testament to the power of freedom of religion here, or not such a good thing at all — depending on how that data is perceived.
And, this statistic may not be true around the globe — certainly not in countries where they may not have other faiths available to explore. But, it is interesting that in Israel, where people are largely Jewish by nationality, there is actually a highly secular percentage of people that is, by most counts, hovering at about 40% of the general population. It may be that in countries such Israel, where it would be highly unpopular to convert to another faith altogether, the real options people consider are either to practice faith or not to practice faith at all. In other countries, where the consequences are higher for not practicing, such as Saudi Arabia or Yemen, fewer ever consider religious change.
Rabbi Harold Kushner, after suffering the great loss of his son to Progeria, a rare, genetic rapid-aging disease, has led millions to a new and reasonable perspective on God. His own experiences have been shared to benefit many in a way that paves a path for people who are mad at God to keep their faith in the face of human hardship and loss. His famous book When Bad Things Happen to Good People is a new and refreshing concept covering the possibilities of how God operates.
Even Mother Theresa was no exception when it came to a crisis of faith. After her death, many were surprised to learn she had her doubts about God. It was found out through her long correspondence with the Reverend Michael Van Der Peet that she felt a profound absence of Jesus despite doing her best to serve Him with all her heart. She is quoted saying:
“Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.” — Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979
Plenty of Biblical figures questioned God, argued with God and doubted God. A rabbi in our network recently sent out his Jewish New Year letter stating that it is not only normal, but in fact a long-standing Jewish tradition to have doubts about God.
How we react and navigate the various crises of faith is a subject of great interest, as we each maneuver such unique challenges in our lives.
We would love to hear your stories, too! Feel free to add yours in the the comment section below, or contact us to submit a guest post on Progress Planet about your Crisis of Faith.
Tagged Author Eliza Wood, choosing a religion, choosing faith, crises of faith, crisis of faith, crisis of faith book, crisis of faith types, mother theresa crisis of faith, questioning faith, questioning God, questioning the bible, rabbi harold kushner and faith, reverend mark francisco bozzuti-jones, when bad things happen to good people
“Controversial, challenging, and meticulously researched, Eliza Wood’s Crisis of Faith is equal parts thriller and cautionary tale of religious extremism and home-grown terrorism, questioning where we are going as a nation and as a planet.”
‒ James Rollins
—New York Times bestselling author of Bloodline
The Tale of Queen Jehan And The Three Kingdoms is a beautifully illustrated children’s book that teaches racial, ethnic and religious cooperation through metaphor.
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