Elie Wiesel survived Auschwitz, barely. His faith in God was also shaken as the lives of those around him suffered and perished. Despite this, Wiesel felt that a wounded faith is stronger. He said, “My tradition teaches that no heart is as whole as a broken heart..” 1Faith can find solidification from a wound, but make no mistake, a wounded faith is dangerous. Especially a faith that is asking hard questions and the answers are not satisfying or even visible. Why cancer, why Alzheimer’s, why divorce, why child suffering, why suicide, why Covid-19?
So many youth today leave the church because questions are not answered. For many, their first doubts begin in their teens and continue well into their 20’s. According to the 2018 Barna Trends, a leading research organization focused on the crossing of faith and culture; nearly 70% of Christians have admitted to experiencing doubt, and just over 25% continue having doubts. Of those who have experienced doubt:
- 30% stopped reading their bible
- 46% stopped attending church
- 24% stopped talking about their faith 2
I see three categories of those that have questions about their faith. First, for some, these questions are thrust upon them because of the shocking and unexpected turn of events. After the initial trauma, the wrestling begins and a long journey of agony and attempts at understanding what took place. Second, others consider these questions because they are truth seekers. Something within them, (which was my experience from many years ago), inspires them to put on their hiking shoes, backpack, explorer hat, and they begin to search for accurate answers to difficult questions. Finally, some ask those questions, not for truth, but the endorsement of their particular worldview. They desire approval and justification by acquitting and absolving themselves of their lifestyle. They are only satisfied with answers that fit their specific worldview and allow them to continue to live the way they want to live.
Asking the hard questions may come from a place of agony, accuracy, or approval, but many never really begin to ask any questions. Their posture toward God is skin deep; mine certainly was for many years. They would rather buy a Hallmark card then make one. Purchase the shine, but never lift the hood. Wilbur Rees wrote concerning this kind of faith, “I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please”. 3
Vincent Donovan shared in his book ‘Christianity Rediscovered’ about his experience in Africa. The Masai tribe in Africa has two words for ‘faiths’. One is a simple agreement with something and lacks any emotion, passion, or desire. It was likened to a white man hunter who pulls the trigger with no thought beyond the trophy to hang in his living room. A Masai elder described the other word for faith as something much more private or devoted. Much like an animal that hunts for its prey. Picture a mountain lion or Bobcat that stalk their prey. Sometimes hours of waiting with perfect stillness despite the nearness of the victim and almost overpowering scent fill the hunter-animal with lust for the kill. When the moment is right, it leaps on the unsuspecting animal and makes the prey part of itself. 4
How many of us make our faith part of who we are? I have heard the question asked, if you were brought to trial, would there be enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian? Could others, friends, co-workers, family members testify that you have spoken of being a Christian, or seen ‘Christ-like’ behavior? Does your faith go beyond the cross hanging from your neck, the bible in your living room, the proverb poster framed on your wall?
In the last couple of weeks, Luke 10:27 has been pressed upon my heart. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus then told him if he did this he will live. In that conversation with the expert on the law, Jesus never mentioned the word faith, but make no mistake; it is embedded in verse 27. Hebrews 11:6 says without faith it is impossible to please Him. Ephesians 2:8-9 says we have been saved by grace through faith. 1Timothy 6:12 says to fight the good fight of faith to take hold of eternal life.
Michael Horton, in his book Core Christianity, addresses those who are trying to live out their faith. “You may not always ‘feel his pleasure’ in your calling…You don’t just choose one calling. You choose many over a lifetime…Just be who God has called you to be right where you are, with the people he has called you to serve. You will make a difference, but life is not about making a difference. It is about doing what God has made you to do so that you can be a conduit of his love and service to others.” 5
A. W. Tozer said, “A scared world needs a fearless church.” 6Sources:
- Done, Dominic. “The Luchador.” When Faith Fails: Finding God in the Shadow of Doubt. By Dominic Done. Nashville, TN: Nelson, 2019. 154-55. Print.
- Stone, Roxanne, and Alyce Youngblood. “Trending in Faith.” Barna Trends 2018: What’s New and What’s next at the Intersection of Faith and Culture, Baker Books, 2017, pp. 132
- Swindoll, Charles. The Inspirational Writings. New York: BBS Publishing Corporation, 1994, pg. 21, Print.
- Donovan, Vincent J. Christianity Rediscovered. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1978, Print.
- Horton, Michael. “In The Meantime: Callings” Core Christianity. Zondervan. 2016 pg. 167
- Tozer, A. W. This World: Playground or Battleground? Chicago, Moody Publishers, 1989, Kindle edition, loc 103-118