Unless the Lord had helped me, I would soon have settled in the silence of the grave. I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. (NLT)
We hear of people who have given up on faith. Of course, we can’t know for sure just what the truth might be. They may just be struggling, or they may have given up on church: a rather common reality.
What might cause people to slip away, in the words of the Psalmist? Maybe the ongoing problem of evil is a stumbling block. If I don’t get answers, I don’t have faith. Maybe it is a personal tragedy or setback. If God can’t prevent such things, why trust him? Maybe it is the dashing of various dreams. If God can’t grant me my dreams, why bother with him? Or perhaps it is to do with how his church treats or mistreats people. If his people are like that, I want nothing to do with him.
All of this is understandable if we believe God is there to solve our problems, provide us with answers, give us our desires, make his people perfect all at once. If God becomes a means to an end, then if we don’t get the end we expected, we give up on the means. That is, we give up on our faith.
My faith in God does not hinge on whether my life turns out just as I want it, or whether all the problems of human existence are neatly tied up and packaged so no mystery remains. My faith in God hinges on his faithfulness revealed supremely in Jesus. My faith is not in good circumstances but in a good God. My faith can survive mess and mystery.
What keeps me from slipping is not my hold on God but his hold on me.