5 Steps to keep your faith in hard times
Life is hard. We all know that. But sometimes life batters and shatters us so severely that our faith is shaken. And we don’t talk about this enough in Christian culture. Figuring out how to keep your faith in hard times is challenging.
My faith has been shaken a few times during my 33-year walk with God. I’ve never once stopped believing in Him or loving Him since I asked him to be my personal savior as a 10-year-old, but I’ve had doubts and questions.
Sometimes I haven’t understood what He was doing, and it bothered me. I have longed for justice that just doesn’t seem to happen. If I’m being honest, I’ve also said prayers that I wasn’t sure were making it to heaven, let alone to the Father’s Throne.
I can’t tell you all sorts of theological reasons for shaken faith or even list lots of Bible verses explaining how to handle shaken faith. But, I can share some of my experiences of how God has helped me keep my faith in hard times.
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What happens when your faith is shaken?
Unsurprisingly, we don’t usually have crises of faith when everything is going well. When life is going without major bumps and bruises, we find it easy to believe in a loving God who is with us.
But during the difficult seasons, that can change. Keeping your faith in hard times is often challenging.
I compare my faith to motherhood in this way. During the years as a mom, I have questioned a few times whether I was qualified for motherhood.
Surely all moms don’t struggle with the problems I do. I debated whether I was truly cut out to be a mom. Yet, at the end of the day, I am still a mom (and am so thankful to be!).
Faith is the same way. When all is well, I don’t have questions or doubts in faith. I am confident and sure of who I am and Who God is. But in difficult times and in the hard moments, faith gets shakier.
I sometimes wonder whether God is full of love and blessings. I don’t see Him move. Yet, at the end of the day, I am still a Christian.
We may have doubts and questions, but just because we are having doubts about God and our faith doesn’t mean we aren’t a Christian or we don’t love God. It simply means we are human. And we want a real connection with God.
If we didn’t want a real connection with God, then our faith wouldn’t be shaken by missing that connection. These steps can help you to keep your faith during hard times.
1. Go through the faith motions.
To keep my faith in God in difficult times, I learned I need to keep going through the motions. And sometimes I am quite literally just going through the motions.
A few years ago, I went through a period where for the first time in my life, I was struggling for months to sing the music at church and couldn’t even listen to Christian radio. I was having a hard time.
How could I sing praises to a God who was not showing up when I desperately needed Him to? My heart was too broken to begin to praise. That’s a hard place in which to be.
Then one Sunday, I made myself since along with the worship songs at church. My kids were in service, and I wanted to be a good example.
For the first time in my life, I truly understood the sacrifice of praise Paul talks about in Hebrews. (And take note that this verse reminds us that Jesus will give us the strength to praise continually. We can’t do it on our own!)
Praising God when you don’t feel like it and when struggling with faith is difficult. While I didn’t immediately feel better and stabilize my faith that Sunday, over time singing, praising and worshipping got easier again.
Sometimes we have to go through the motions (even when we don’t feel like it) until we get back to where we want to be. These motions helps us to keep our faith in hard times.
2. Shift your focus while on shifting ground.
Just as worshipping and praising started to get easier for me, the hard time worsened and made keeping my faith even more difficult. Honestly, I didn’t think it could get worse, yet it did. I was brought to my knees and broken. One week, in particular, was rough. I went to church that week numb and hurt.
I sat in service practically scoffing at God. How could He be good in the midst of all He was allowing to happen? Where was His justice? How could He be good? Where was His grace?
I don’t know what the sermon was about, because the cross at the front of our church caught my attention. The cross was what mattered.
Whether God was good or just or full of grace didn’t matter. What mattered is I knew the truth that He sent His Son to the cross to die for me.
When I had no other answers to anything else, I had the answer of Jesus and His love. And in that moment, it was enough.
It was enough until the hard times eased down, and I could once again see God’s goodness and grace. Jesus is always enough. Always.
I still struggle with justice. I still struggle in many ways. But I know God loves me. And just that is enough, because it is the foundation of my faith.
3. Talk to God when you have doubts in faith.
Just like in any relationship, when we are struggling with faith, we still need to communicate and work through it. Praying can be hard when we wonder whether our prayers are even getting through.
Wanting to talk to God when you are upset with Him is hard. But we have to try.
The good news is we don’t have to have all the right words. We can be honest with God. He won’t get offended and leave us. He won’t forget us, and He’ll be right there. And He has given us the Holy Spirit to help us pray even when we can’t quite get all the words out ourselves.
As I began to heal and my faith began to stabilize, I realized I still struggled to see God at work. I prayed for His help to see Him and His goodness in my life.
I knew in my head that He was there and working, but my heart was struggling to believe it. He answered my prayers and opened my eyes to see His hand in my life.
I prayed that prayer a long time, because I needed the reminder to look for God and His help to see Him.
4. Find hope to keep your faith in the hurt.
As I started seeing God at work again, I also saw how so many of my previous struggles prepared me to survive the struggle I was in. I saw how He’d been working on me for years, so I’d be ready for this time.
Recognizing these things strengthened my faith and reminded me of God’s faithfulness, grace and power. God worked on me for years before I even knew about the situation. He is still working for my good for the future!
I slowly felt more hopeful, but I still battled increased anxiety and depression. Along with my prayer to see God’s goodness and work in my life, I started a gratitude journal.
I wrote three different things each day for which I could thank God. Even hard days and times have blessings. Some days the most I was thankful for was the breath in my lungs, food on the table and a roof over my head.
However, it wasn’t long before I found so much more than the bare necessities for which to thank God. Eventually I was back in the habit of seeing God and His goodness. I was back to thanking and praising Him.
My faith had moved from shaky ground to solid ground. God’s faithfulness restored my faith to solid ground.
5. Decide to trust God completely.
Dealing with shaken faith is difficult. We get a choice whether to keep our faith during hard times. We can head down the path to find our way back to God and His strength. Or we can choose to give up on Him.
No matter the situation, don’t give up on Him. Don’t question His blessings, His goodness or His faithfulness. Remember the cross. Remember how He gave His only Son for you to have eternal life with Him.
This verse may be one of the most well-known in the Bible, but it is a perfect Bible verse to strengthen your faith in hard times. Remembering we can trust God completely because He loves us so much is vital.
Keep your faith during hard times
While your faith may be shaken, your God is not. You may have doubt in faith, but God never has a moment of doubt in His love for you. He is ever faithful and true.
Talk to God. Take a step toward Him, and He will come running to meet you. It may take time, but He is working on and for you. He loves you, and He will help you move from shaky faith to solid ground.