Finding faith?

Noshic's picture

What is the nature of saving faith? What if you end up in a situation opposite to the man in Mark the sense, you know God CAN, but you no longer believe that He WILL help you or save you?

What if despite having had what you thought was true faith, despite centering your life on God for years, all you get is silence within and without? You see your life falling apart in every possible way for no rhyme or reason - esp in areas where you completely trusted God to deliever you with a child-like faith. And on top of it there is no inner follow a check-list of dos and don'ts because it says so in the Bible - but there's no real fruit of the Spirit within - no joy, hope, love or peace...Atleast, even if it was there earlier - it has died.

So what conclusions do you draw from your experiences or the lack of those? That your faith is weak? Well, how does one produce a stronger faith?

I've been praying for faith and spiritual health for years...what more must I do to have proper faith? Doesn't faith flow from grace? So have I been denied that grace? After yrs of opposition, should I accept Calvinism to be true? That grace is extended only to a select few, and I don't happen to be one?

And if faith is a function of my will, then how do I go about willing it? In the last couple of months, I've strongly come to doubt that I have whatever it takes to have God's presence in my life. I look at my life now, and all I feel for God is fear - for bad as things are, I know He could make them even worse (in order to test me?). How can I fake a loving devotion to Him?

It's a very strange situation - I know my life is not worth a bean without God...yet I also know that He's not in my life and there's nothing I can do to bring Him into my life..desperate though I may be..Can one continue to believe that God is in his life year after year, in the absence of any internal or external corroboration of that?

objection from experience (slightly edited)

My childhood church teaches something similar to what you are espousing. About two years ago, a close friend of mine began investigating the truth of this sanctification experience. He decided to pursue it, and I was with him at an altar as he prayed and received it. This nearly 30-year-old construction worker broke down into tears in an experience I cannot quite describe, but I think you have seen it.

Yet the years that followed proved to be disappointing. My friend was not an intellectual, but he liked to think about his faith. The product so failed to live up to the advertised hype that he became disenchanted. He felt like he had been conned into pursuing something that was an illusion based on the experiential testimony of a few who thought their personal experience should be doctrine, a standard for every Christian. My church has a habit of doing this--after all, it teaches that the Pentecostal experience is a mandatory prerequisite for the 'serious Christian,' because once upon a time many Christians spoke in tongues. It's easy to project the things we experience onto others as normative behavior.

Long story short, today my friend sits inside a jail cell for a host of felonies which may cost him the rest of his life. His wife is in shock, his family shattered. Here is a person who believed the hype, and was so determined to model his Christianity on someone's private interpretation of spiritual experiences and manipulative understanding of the scriptures that he could not bring himself to cut loose of the dead Christianity that followed his special experience--he was so chained to the spiritual models of success which others created that he could not even openly say, "This isn't quite right. This needs reconsideration." So privately, his faith just collapsed.

It is very dangerous to presume to know what others need spiritually, and to seize upon every spiritual distress as an opportunity to propagate any pet doctrinal position. We are people, and God deals with people individually. Noshic might be wrestling with the issues you described, but maybe God will lead to a different conclusion than the one you are suggesting--would you want to tamper with the Potter as he spins His wheel?

Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life;
And these are they which bear witness of me;
And ye will not come to me, that ye may have life. (John 5:39-40)