Have you ever found yourself struggling with what you believe? It might not have been a full-blown existential crisis, but you questioned your faith. Maybe your conversations with peers led you to be more open to ideas that you used to be adamantly against. You’ve experienced a pain that made you question the goodness of God, or even His very existence. It may have even been a dark night of the soul where you couldn’t recognize the presence of God.

Those experiences are never easy. The status of your faith on the other side of deep doubts and questioning depends partly on the firmness of your foundation. While high-profile Christian leaders have recently been transparent and vocal about leaving their faith, this is not a new issue. The writings of Peter, Paul, and James are full of encouragement when dealing with a conflict of faith.

Diluted Foundations

Is your faith built solely on feelings that you’ve had? There’s a good chance it will crumble under any real pressure. Even if you have an incredible network of support from strong, faith-filled peers, they cannot fully compensate for a foundation built on the shifting sands of emotion.

Faith feels incredibly strong for a period of time when it is built on emotional responses. You might be “on fire” and ready to change the world. How long can that fire stay lit without continually feeding it more emotional experiences?

The mountaintop worship encounter might give you a sense of peace, but what happens when you wake up to a child vomiting in the middle of the night? The next morning you burn your breakfast. You forget your lunch at home because you’re in a rush. Then, someone cuts you off on the highway and you get pulled over a mile later. To top things off, your boss writes you up for being late and it’s not even mid-morning yet. How strong does your faith feel then? The passion and feelings you experienced the night before get diluted with the stress and emotional responses of just a few hours of life removed from that experience.

Faith is also easily diluted when it is only fed by popular music, a few scriptures, and three alliterated points in an hour or less on Sunday. I’m not saying that the sermons you listen to are diluted, but church attendance is not enough, even if you go every week. We have to regularly dig into Scripture on our own and with other believers in order to strengthen and grow our faith. Continual prayer and meditation (communing with God) is also an important part of a firm foundation of faith.

Lukewarm Faith

A lukewarm faith only serves to exacerbate a diluted foundation. Imagine a pitcher of refreshing lemonade on a hot summer day. The flavor is optimally blended and the ice in the pitcher has made it the perfect cool temperature. What happens if that pitcher sits out in the sun all day? As the ice melts, it dilutes the lemonade; the temperature rises to a point that it is no longer a refreshing drink. Instead, it is a disgusting, lukewarm lemon water that even has a bitter tinge to it.

Everyone has an inbred desire for others to like and accept them. This desire pushes us to care more about how we appear to others than God’s call on our lives. Culture today has created a fear of offense, so we hold back truth to ensure the comfort of others. When we don’t hold back, we are ostracized for having a different understanding than those who disagree with us. As a result, we dance around hard issues and wordsmith our social media interactions to the point of appearing as though we have no conviction at all.

That’s not how we should be interacting with the world. Concern with what others think of us does not trump our calling to share the Gospel and make disciples. Check out Galatians 1:6-10 and 2 Timothy 4:1-5. A faith that does not share the true Gospel is one that is lukewarm and impotent. To combine that with a foundation of feelings is a recipe for failure in the face of a faith crisis.

The Testing of Our Faith

My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.

James 1:2-4 (TPT)

Struggles, trials, pain, and suffering are par for the course of life. They are not the same for everyone, but they are inevitable. I’ve gone through pain, loss, relational turmoil, and extended seasons of difficulty that have tested my faith. None of them were pleasing at the time, and some are still painful to remember. I’m still growing in my faith and perseverance, but I can say that my faith is stronger.

I am humbled by the faith of Christians around the world who endure incredible trials every day. It’s painful to even think about their situations, but their strength and passion shows that their foundation is secure and their faith is unashamedly red hot.

It’s just as painful to hear stories of others who have decided that they will no longer follow Jesus. I don’t know what they’ve gone through to bring them to that point; nor can I judge their foundation or faith, but my prayer is that they return to Jesus.

A firm foundation on the Word of God, continual communion with God, and a deep connection to the Body of Christ (His Church) will empower us to trust Him; even when our faith is shaken.