One thing that has really been a burden on my heart lately, is the rise in articles and social media posts I've seen about Christians declaring that they are turning away from the faith.
We live in a time where there are so many choices when it comes to religion and spirituality. And, with so much going on in the world around us, many are starting to question, doubt, waver, and genuinely struggle with their faith.
Questions like these are becoming more and more common:
- Is it normal to doubt your faith?
- Is losing faith a sin?
- Why am I losing my faith in God?
- Why am I questioning my faith?
If you have ever had someone ask you these questions, but you didn’t have the answers, or if you have been asking yourself these questions, then this is the post for you. Let’s take a look at some of the things that cause us to struggle with our faith, what the bible has to say about the topic, and five key ways to stand firm when faith doubts arise.
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Key Reasons Christians Struggle With Their Faith
As Christians, we are called to have faith in God. And, the bible defines faith as follows:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)
That is a bold definition. To have faith in God is to have confidence in who He is, and what He has promised in His Word, with assurance, even when everything around us suggests otherwise. Faith is standing firm on God’s Word, even when it looks like the world around us is falling apart. Faith is maintaining hope, even when everything looks hopeless.
Easier said than done, right?
To some degree, every person’s struggle with faith is unique. However, generally speaking, when you get to the root of the doubts that tend to arise, they typically fall into three categories of what we start to lose faith in: God, the Bible, and Christianity.
Losing Faith in God
When it comes to our relationship with God, there are so many things that can leave us with feelings of doubt about who God is, His existence, and what He can actually do in our lives.
From what I have read, studied, observed, and personally experienced, there are several things that lead to Christians feeling this way.
1. Having Unbiblical Expectations About Life
Many Christians have a false concept of what the “Christian Life” is supposed to look like. We have this unrealistic fantasy that being a Christian solves all our problems, and with God we will coast through anything life has to throw our way without any disappointments, heartbreaks, pain, or tragedy.
Whether we’ve come to believe this because it was something we were taught growing up, a sermon we heard, a book we read, or just how we chose to view things - it’s a false, unrealistic, and unbiblical belief and expectation about life.
And it’s when life ends up being the exact opposite of this false belief that we start to doubt and lose faith in God. We observe or experience pain, suffering, social injustice, loss, or tragedy, and it causes us to question if God is real.
Because we can’t make sense of such thoughts, we begin to suppress them. In fact, although we won’t admit it, deep down we actually start to harbor anger and resentment towards God.
2. Being Mad at God
If we are being honest, many of us will find that we have a list of “why would God” questions. Why would God allow evil to exist in the first place? Why would God allow suffering? Why would God not allow homosexuality? And, the list could go on.
These questions are often too burdensome for us to resolve, and because we can’t quite wrap our heads around it, we start to question God and our faith.
3. Conformity to the World's Belief System
There is no shortage of things that distract us from God and His plan for our lives. Between the internet, television, social media, and the entertainment industry, the emphasis is completely on self, and doing whatever you can to live your best life – apart from God.
Without even realizing it, as Christians we can get so caught up in this type of worldly mindset that teaches us that we don’t need God, that we actually start to forget about God, and start living as if we are non-Christians. This, in turn, leads to feeling distant from God, and struggling with our faith.
Losing Faith in the Bible
One of my clearest (and saddest) observations I’ve seen in Christians who struggle with their faith, is a direct correlation with how they view the bible – the Word of God.
On the one hand, we have Christians who view the bible as having very little importance, or priority in their lives. Then there are those who do view it as relevant, but oftentimes find it confusing or difficult to understand, so they push it aside. Others even say the bible contradicts itself.
All of these viewpoints lead to unanswered questions and frustrations. And when we can’t trust or understand the book on which our faith is built, we start to doubt our faith altogether.
Losing Faith in Christianity
Last, but certainly not the least, another key reason Christians struggle with their faith is because of past negative experiences with other Christians.
There are no shortage of people who have a story to tell about a bad experience they had at a church, or with another Christian.
Whether the pastor stole church money, the deacon molested some children, several women mistreated you at a women’s conference, the Sunday School teacher discriminated against your child, the usher was rude, or the sermon was not to your liking, I’m sure we all have had at least one negative experience at a church, or with a fellow Christian.
Unfortunately, too often we let how another Christian, or group of Christians behave towards us, dictate the terms of our relationship with God and how we will serve Him. Or, we get so focused on the way they are living and sins they are committing, that we begin to wonder if the Christian faith is total hypocrisy.
Sadly, based on these experiences and observations, we start to doubt God, and struggle with our faith.
What Does the Bible Say About Struggling With Faith?
At the core of all the root causes of faith doubts mentioned above are lies, and/or misconceptions about God’s Word regarding it all. It is very important that we take a look at Scripture, and embrace what it says on the matter.
Life Will Be Full of Faith Challenges
First and foremost the bible is absolutely clear that as Christians, we are going to have trials and tribulations in our lives that will challenge our faith. In fact, the more we seek to grow spiritually, the more challenges we will face.
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NLT)
We must start here, because when we let this truth sink in, that alone is half the battle.
If that verse isn't enough here are a few others:
- Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. Psalm 34:19 KJV
- So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7 NLT
- Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 NLT
As you can see, the trials of life are actually tests of our faith, and they are inevitable for all Christians to produce spiritual endurance within us!
We All Struggle With Our Faith At Times
The fact of the matter is, ALL Christians struggle with faith in some aspect, at one point or another.
Peter: “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:28-31 NIV
The Disciples: While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:36-39 NIV
The father of a demon-possessed boy: “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:21-24 NLT
The Psalmist: When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. Psalm 94:19 NLT
Just like in the examples above, over the years I have had doubts, questions, people, circumstances, false teachings, and general storms of life that have caused me pain, loss, confusion, frustration, anger, bitterness, and stress that have shaken and challenged my faith to its very core.
But, what I have learned is that it was all a necessary part of my journey to get me to where I am today.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:15-18 NLT)
God Will Be Our Hope and Help Through It All
God knew our journey wouldn't be an easy one. And, He lovingly gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to give us the hope, joy, and strength we need to endure along the way.
For we live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV)
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27 NLT)
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5 NLT)
Just remember that God is so much bigger than anything we will face, or any faith doubt or struggle we could ever have.
How to Stand Firm When Struggling With Your Faith
So now that we know we will all have our faith challenged, and that God will be our hope in the midst of it, how do we stand firm when the struggles actually hit and become reality?
Whether you or someone you know is struggling with their belief in God, the bible, or Christianity, doing these five key things will help you stand firm when put into practice.
Read the Bible Regularly
As simple as it sounds, it’s the one thing many Christians just don’t do. But, we CANNOT grow in, or build our faith without spending time with God regularly.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. (Romans 10:17 NIV)
We can’t have faith in a God that we know little to nothing about! And the only way to learn more about God, His amazing attributes, and His wonderful promises is to read His Word - regularly!
I promise you, when the toughest seasons of life hit, you will have to learn to embrace the Word of God as if your spiritual life depended on it. Because, it does!
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. (Psalm 119:92 NIV)
It’s the moments when you are anxious, worried, stressed, frustrated, mentally drained, fatigued, and crying uncontrollably. When the devil has you right on the brink of cracking, standing on the edge of life, ready to call it quits, and denounce God and everything related to Him.
Those are the moments, where IF you have been reading God’s Word, or turn to God’s Word, where God can bring to your remembrance, by the power of the Holy Spirit, every promise and biblical affirmation you need in that moment to push through and keep standing.
Reading the bible regularly is THE BEST routine you can establish as a Christian IF you want to grow in your relationship with God, and build your faith.
- What is the Importance of the Word of God for Today’s Christian?
- 10 Amazing Benefits of Reading the Bible Regularly
Talk to God About Your Faith Doubts
When you are struggling with faith, prayer can sometimes feel like the hardest thing to do, because you’re doubting that God is even there.
But, it’s during those times that it is more important than ever to ask God for help, strength, and guidance for the peace you need to trust Him:
- Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 NIV
- Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 NIV
- Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
Too often, in our struggles with faith, we let doubt, discouragement, confusion and frustration settle in, without ever talking to God about it. We were never meant to go through our Christian journey on our own.
God wants us to be open and honest with Him about how we are feeling, what we are going through, and what our struggles are. Yes, because He is God, He already knows without us ever saying a word. However, talking to God displays obedience to His Word, and it shows that we actually trust Him.
Pray continually. (I Thessalonians 5:17 NIV)
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (I Peter 5:7 NIV)
So, let's stop carrying around unnecessary burdens, and learn to talk to God more. Trust me, you'll be surprised to see what happens when you pray!
Need some tips on how to talk to God?
BE SURE TO READ: How to Pray When You Have No Clue Where to Start
Connect With Other Faith-Filled Christians
Along with reading the bible, and talking to God regularly, one of the other key things that will help us stand firm when struggling with our faith is Christian fellowship.
It is vital that we connect regularly with other strong faith-filled believers. Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people who also love God and His Word, can be a major source of encouragement and strength, especially when we are struggling with our faith. The bible actually tells us to be there for one another for this very reason:
Fellowship can come in the form of going to a church service, attending bible study, Sunday school, a seminar, a workshop, a conference, a retreat, a concert, or any general Christian gathering (cookout, dinner party, game night, meeting for coffee, etc.).
Since we all have faith struggles at one point or another, by connecting with others, we get to hear their experiences and their personal testimonies of how they overcame. Depending on the type of gathering, you may even be able to ask questions or discuss in detail what you are specifically struggling with. This includes any difficulties you may be having understanding the bible.
In our modern society, there are great online Christian communities as well, that you can connect with via blogs, Facebook groups, and social media.
In either case, it’s important that you establish good strong Christian connections that are great resources in time of need. It could be a pastor, deacon, youth leader, spiritual advisor, brother or sister in Christ, or a Christian relative.
It's ok to struggle, and we are to help those who do.
And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. (Jude v. 22 NLT)
And, don't let those bad past experiences you've had with "church-folk" keep you from getting the support you need now. The body of Christ is much bigger than the one, five, or dozen bad experiences you've had.
Pray and ask God to help connect you with the right resources.
Evaluate Your Alternative Choices
This is one of my favorite things to address when it comes to struggling with faith, doubts about God, or defending Christianity against other religions. You see, it’s fairly easy to sit back and make a list of all the doubts we can name about Christianity.
However, my go to question is always: “If I decide that God is NOT real, that the bible is NOT true, and that Christianity is NOT for me, what then is my alternative belief?”
For some, the answer could simply be choosing another religion. After all, there are so many to choose from. Just take your pick! You can decide to be Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, or Taoist. You can even dabble in witchcraft if you really want an extreme change.
For some, an alternative could be to embrace atheism – the belief that there is no God at all. Of course, this would include embracing the atheistic belief system that the universe has always existed or created itself, that life arose by chance, that there is no basis for calling anything good or evil, and there’s no objective purpose for our existence.
For many others, who have indeed “left the faith” and “turned from Christianity”, they choose a form of personalized spirituality where they pick and choose beliefs that feel right and make sense to them. Keep in mind that by choosing this alternative, you are effectively deciding that YOU are the ultimate authority of truth.
Regardless of which alternative you have considered, or even if you’ve never considered what you would believe if you reject Christianity altogether, I promise that you will see that there will be doubts and questions about your new beliefs as well.
In my own personal walk, where I have wrestled with seeking alternatives in the past, I always end up with the same response that Peter had at the end of this passage:
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:60-69 NIV)
When all is said and done, I can't imagine living life without God.
Realize We Don't Have All the Answers
Another thing that will help you in your faith journey is acknowledging that we don’t have all the answers about life. In other words, there will be times where things won’t always make sense, and when we won’t understand the ‘why’ behind it all.
- For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV
- Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 NIV
- The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. Psalm 135:6-7 NIV
In our struggle with faith, we would do well to remember that God is sovereign over everything, and He knows what is best for each of us. The good news is that, even without knowing or understanding everything, He has still given us everything we need for our Christian journey.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3 NIV)
And, He has promised that EVERYTHING, that happens in our lives is in accordance with His will for us:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)
Proactively Stand Firm in Your Faith!
Now that we know that faith challenges and struggles are an inevitable part of the Christian journey, the key reasons that cause us to struggle in the first place, and how we can stand firm when struggles arise, it’s time to put all that into to action.
Make no mistake, our enemy the devil is after one thing and one thing alone – our intimacy with God! Every temptation, lie, deception, obstacle, distraction, trial, or tribulation he sends our way is ultimately one tool in a bag of tricks he has to steer us away from the wonderful things God has in store for us as Christians.
You see, for those of us who are true Christians, nothing - including Satan - can steal us away from God:
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:28-30 NIV)
However, he can and will do his best to ensure our Christian lives are miserable. And, this “misery” can come in many forms. Everything from disrupting marriages, destroying ministries, and ruining reputations, to wasted years of living in sin, and "testing out" other religions.
For many it can be subtle, in that we can think life is great from a worldly perspective, not realizing that our spiritual health is completely suffering because we spend little to no time with God.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 NIV)
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)
If we truly want to be victorious in our walk with God, and stand up under the pressure of the attacks on our faith, then we MUST make cultivating our relationship with God a priority in our lives.
We MUST read God’s Word, remind ourselves of His promises, reflect on our personal testimonies, and the prayers He’s answered in our lives, talk to God about our doubts, and reach out for help from trusted spiritual advisors when necessary.
I promise you, by the grace of God, as Christian women of faith, as long as we cling to God and His Word, we will stand. And we will stand firm!
Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen. (Jude v. 24-25 NLT)
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