In a world with few
Mother Teresa stands as one of
the most well regarded religious leader in history. She spent most of
her adult life caring for children in the slums of
India. It turns out, the missionary who
brought light to those in deepest darkness was herself in darkness.
The world recently learned of
Mother Teresa’s struggle with doubt when her personal
letters were made public in a book. She asked that all her writings and
correspondence be destroyed, but the guardians of her earthly estate
decided her notes should be preserved for the sake of posterity.
In one of her letters, she wrote an undated address to Jesus, "Where
is my Faith -- even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness &
darkness -- My God -- how painful is this unknown pain -- I have no
Faith -- I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart --
& make me suffer untold agony."
She wrote the Rev. Michael van der Peet in September 1979, saying,
"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
has been beatified but not yet canonized. One reporter mockingly quipped
that she should be made the patron saint of doubters.
There is nothing special about
Mother Teresa having a struggle with faith. Many great
church leaders have had to deal with moments when they questioned their
What Is a Crisis of
"Crisis of faith" is a term commonly applied to periods of intense doubt and
internal conflict about one's preconceived beliefs or life decisions.
This doubt can be triggered by a single event, or it can build up as a
general sense of dissatisfaction.
Some people think that any type of uncertainty is a sign of a crisis of
faith. I would say the opposite is generally true. Someone who boldly
declares that he or she has never had doubts is likely a person who was
never a true believer.
True faith is about denying one's self and struggling to reject the sin
nature. It is also about feeling like a stranger in a strange land. A
person who has perfect peace with the world has never actually separated
A crisis of faith takes place when you reach a dead end, then realize
you simply have no faith in your faith.
My 20 years of experience in running Rapture Ready has brought me into
contact with thousands of Christians. I have learned that you can never
be totally sure if someone is a genuine believer.
People know how to act like a Christian. They put on a game face, saying
what a Christian should say, yet they lack what it means to be whole in
admitted that there was a feigned effort in the to imagine she presented
to the world. "The smile," she wrote, "is a mask or a cloak that covers
everything. I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God, a tender
personal love. If you were there you would have said, ‘What hypocrisy.’"
I’ve seen some examples that go far beyond
Mother Teresa's lack of confidence. Some people remove
their mask and reject Christianity altogether.
Not too long ago, I talked with someone who operates a site similar to
Rapture Ready. During the phone conversation, I was surprised to hear
this person openly admit not really being a believer in Christ. I was
equally surprised by the endless stream of profanity coming from this
I have long admired this individual’s articles. The website this person
maintains offers Christians some sound scriptural advice, but there is
this glaring contradiction.
The only sense I could make of the conflict was that this person's
interest had more to do with the satisfaction of running an organization
than the desire to serve the Lord. As a result, someone is telling
people how to live a Christian life, but that person is following a
On the Rapture Ready message board, we occasionally have people lose
their mask. I remember one woman who wanted to open a thread on wine
tasting. When we decided it wasn't a good idea, she had an absolute fit.
Some of her messages were so profane, I wondered if she had switched to
the hard stuff and was doing more than just tasting it. Beforehand she
had been very sweet to me, but when we butted heads, I could tell she
was straining to think of the most vile, hateful things she could throw
in the direction of myself and the other moderators.
I understand that conflict and trials do cause people to say things they
might later regret. They should never bring us to the point where we
renounce our faith.
A Crisis Doesn’t
Require a Crisis of Faith
Becoming a Christian does not mean everything will suddenly become a bed
of roses. No matter how well isolated someone might be from the world,
there are going to be times of difficulty.
For some people, a trial is the point when they doubt or abandon their
faith. People assume that God has violated some unwritten contract with
them, so they go their own way.
the founder of CNN, is a very dramatic example of this type of outcome.
At one point, Ted intended to be a missionary. He said that he has been
"born again" seven times. Ted's sister, Mary Jane, came down with lupus
and suffered terribly before dying. Ted had prayed for an hour each
day--"for naught". Ever since, Ted has been mad at God and considers
himself an "atheist" or an "agnostic" today.
The loss of a loved one is a very traumatic event that can cause anyone
to question how a caring deity can impose such pain and suffering on
loved ones. It’s often difficult to differentiate “free will” from
the “will of God,” and it’s even harder to realize that certain things
are simply beyond our control.
There is no broken promise on God’s part. When Adam and Eve fell, the
Lord spelled out the consequences of their error right on the spot, and
He has been true to His word. Because we live under a curse, hardship
should not be a factor in our faith.
Consider the poor folks who lived during the Middle Ages. Their entire
lives were spent going from one miserable experience to another. The
vast majority of the population existed in abject poverty conditions,
and there was a constant threat of war and disease. Someone dying at age
50 would be considered as having lived to a ripe old age.
Despite these miserable conditions, people in the Middle Ages were very
solid in their faith. They labored six days a week from sun up to sun
down, and packed churches on Sunday.
A cynic might say they were clinging to a false hope, but I don't think
that is the root cause. I think the reason adversity causes people to be
more devoted in their faith is because it forces people to realize
that the Kingdom of God
is more valuable than this world. Today, with all the carnal enticements
around us, we put more value in this life. Adversity causes people to
search their souls, and this is what produces faith.
We should never forget that this
world is shadow of the glory that waits in the life to come. Any problem
we have along the journey to our true home should not be viewed as something
that can damage our faith.
A Crisis of Faith
Can Be a Good Thing
are billions of people on this planet whom I wish would have a crisis
of faith. The reason is because the faith they currently have is based
One sad situation is when someone is in bondage to a false religion, then
realizes something is not right yet continues to be part of this group
because he or she lacks the willpower to break free.
I would rather have someone reject a faith they have no trust in than go
through life living a hopeless lie. It is foolish for someone to remain
linked to a school of thought just because of some cultural or emotional
attachment to it.
lie doesn’t get better with age. It normally degrades as the light of
the truth reveals its true nature.
followers of Jim Jones could have used a crisis of faith. There was plenty of evidence that he was
not the divine savior he claimed to be. People blindly put their trust
in him--all the way to the point that they lost their lives.
think the reason
Mother Teresa felt so empty was
her reliance on a religious experience that was based on works. It’s sad
that her lack of fulfillment didn’t cause her to seek the true meaning
people believe faith is a matter of someone just being presented with
the gospel message and deciding to become a believer. The Bible says the
Holy Spirit is involved in the process. Without Him, no one would choose
to become a believer in Christ.
said that anyone who lacks understanding should ask God for wisdom.
People who are in a state of confusion are often trying solve their
doubts through their own ability.
any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men]
liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" James 1:5.
I’ve been serving the Lord for over 25 years and I can tell how God has
guided me. I never had any special revelations of truth, but I’ve never
had any crisis with my faith.
have noticed the sustaining power in God when I reflect back on how many
of my Christian friends from my youth have lost their vigor, while I
have found strength to keep pressing forward each day.
If you place your trust in God, I am certain that He will also guide you
through any obstacle that may come your way.
awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.
By your strength you established the mountains; you are girded with
might. You silence the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples. Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are
awed by your signs; you make the gateways of the morning and the evening
shout for joy” (Psalm 65:5-8).