Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Surviving a Crisis of Faith

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

This is one of the most famous quotes from Thomas Jefferson. I was in church Sunday when I found myself thinking of this particular quote. The choir had just finished singing a beautiful rendition of Jesus you’re the Center of My Joy. As the people around me erupted in applause, I felt a reawakening inside of myself. The choir from First Baptist in White Sulphur Springs is very talented. They're able to hit and hold all of the notes. They have the ability to transmit the visceral feelings associated with the words in a song. Later that night I searched for the lyrics and read them myself; they were impressive, but didn't touch my soul the way they did earlier.

If the tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants, what refreshes your faith? I know this question is one with many different answers, but really- what gets you over a hump?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. experienced a crisis of faith as a student in the seminary. Between the bodily resurrection of Jesus and the writings of Paul Tillich and Friedrich Nietzsche he found his faith rocked to the core. I bring King into this just to prove a point: we are all capable of the kind of doubt that leads to crisis. Mother Theresa wrote: 
 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
When we're wrestling with life’s trials and tribulations getting back to our faith and leaning on it isn't as easy as people make it out to be. Having your faith rocked by tragedy is an unavoidable part of life. We are going to experience the sickness and death of loved ones. Part of us will challenge God’s omnipotence. Jesus found himself wondering: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me. If Jesus called into question God’s will, why should we be any different? What hope is there for a sinner like me?

When I think about the best church services I've attended, they've all taken me on a journey. I start out overwhelmed with the pain and doubt associated with past events and finish with the reassurance that I was delivered from that particular pain. We can weather the storms. I’m inspired by the stories of those who've had the courage to talk about the pain associated with life.

We aren't given the answers before this test we call life. We'll never understand why bad things happen to good people, why nature turns on us, or how evil can be rewarded. I don't know what replenishes your faith, but for me it’s the remembrance of past pain. I look back and can see how far I've been blessed to come.