The word shake is versatile. It can be a noun or a verb. Its range of meaning run from horrifying to sublime.
Shaking in my shoes
Shaken not stirred. (No, I have no personal knowledge of this one.)
Shake and bake.
He’s got the shakes
Shake it, baby, shake it. (No, I’m not going there.)
What about Shaken Faith? Yes, I’m doing the capital letters on this one. As Christians, we don’t like to talk about Shaken Faith. We come to Christ and it’s all good, right? We have faith and we live happily ever after. That’s what we want to tell the folks we evangelize. Troubles will slide off us like we’ve donned mighty Teflon armor.
Psssst. Let me whisper the bad news (as opposed to our Good News) in your ear. It only gets tougher, not easier. I’m watching good friends fight terrible battles right now. One has scleroderma, a horrible lung disease that has her struggling to breathe. Another is losing a precious, precious relationship she thought would last a lifetime. Another is struggling to find a new job after getting laid off. I’ve written plenty about my own battles with ovarian cancer and primary lateral sclerosis (PLS).
Yes, my faith has been shaken on numerous occasions. I know I’m not the only one. So let’s stop beating around the bush about it. There are no easy answers. I wish there were. I remember Pastor David’s sermon about why God “lets” us suffer. I kept waiting for him to produce the answer. His answer: “I don’t know.”
Dang. If a preacher doesn’t know who does? David will tell you we live in a fallen world. God doesn’t cause our suffering, but he does allow it to continue because without these things we would have no need of faith and we certainly would never develop character. We would never need to rely on God because as frail, puny humans we still think we’re in control. We don’t give up that control until we hit rock bottom and God allows us to bounce anyway.
I’m reading a daily devotional by Max Lucado called Grace for the Moment. It was given to me by my agent Mary Sue Seymour. Another friend I watched suffer and die from cancer. A true believer who went to her grave without uttering a recrimination. She said to her friends, “can’t wait to see you in heaven.”
One of this week’s devotionals said this: Jesus is a present-tense Christ. Asked the question, who are you, He said I Am. Not I was. “From the center of the storm, the unwavering Jesus shouts, ‘I am.’ Tall in the Trade Tower wreckage. Bold against the Galilean waves. ICU, battlefield, boardroom, prison cell, or maternity ward—whatever your storm, ‘I am.’”
So, what do we do when our faith is shaken? We hang on to the Great I Am.
“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
In the Joni and Friends Beyond Suffering NLT Bible, which I greatly recommend, there is an entry called “When Faith is Shaken,” that focuses on the story of Jairus in Luke. Jairus’s daughter is dying and he asks Jesus to save her. Jesus stops on the way to Jairus’s house to help someone else. Jairus gets the word that his daughter has died. His faith is shaken. But Jesus says to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith and she will be healed.”
As the entry points out, Jesus saw Jairus’s shaken faith and he spoke words of encouragement to him “so this grief-stricken father continued to set one foot in front of the other, and just keep walking-with Jesus.”
Jairus’s daughter received healing. In my ear, I hear that old TV show detective saying in Colonel Potter’s voice, “Just the facts, ma’am.” So, here’s the rest of the story: Many of us will not be healed.
The entry goes on to say “Jesus is always right on time to meet our needs, even when he doesn’t work in the way we expect. His presence strengthens our faith and his love overwhelms our heart—just as they did for a desperate father so many centuries ago.”
In Hannah Whitall Smith’s book, The God of All Comfort, she describes a God who has no limitations on his comfort. “I am rest for the weary. I am peace for the storm-tossed, I am strength for the weak, I am wisdom for the foolish. I am righteousness for the sinful. I am all the neediest soul on earth can need. I am exceedingly abundantly beyond all you can ask or think.”
Smith asks the question we all ask: How do you get a hold of it. That comfort. She says you can’t. It gets a hold of you. “So, trust and act accordingly. Take your stand on his trustworthiness.”
In other words, hold on through the storm and have faith. In return for offering such magnificent all-encompassing comfort, he asks for us simply to have faith that He is good. He is faithful. He is I Am.
This is my prescription for Shaken Faith,
- Immediately stop beating yourself up for what some might see as a lack of faith.
- Take daily doses of Scripture.
- Pray in large quantities.
- Lot of walking. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, knowing that as Christians, our journey will end in the arms of a welcoming Savior. That, my friends, is the Good News.
- Take a stand by focusing on the positive. Speak more of blessings and less of trials.
- Look outward. Help others and you’ll think less of yourself.
I’d love to hear from you about your struggles with Shaken Faith and your prescriptions. Help me add to the list!