When Faith Doesn’t Feel Like Faith (Re-post)

pain“Faith” sounds so strong and sure.  It’s one of those terms that, for many, conjurs up images of heroic bravery.  But when you hit a rough patch in life, and we all do, faith suddenly takes on a different tone.  The natural emotions that go along with things like: a hurting child, a diagnosis, a loss, a financial drought, a relationship that just isn’t getting better, and a million other circumstances, somehow make the idea of having “faith” pretty muddy.

I used to admire people who faced life crises with a smile that implied that they’re really fine because they “have faith”.  But the longer I live, the more I have to believe that putting our arms around the concept of faith does not automatically remove us from the pain and disappointment life brings. Thank God, faith isn’t about feeling.  It isn’t even about us.  It’s about an unchanging God who really, really (REALLY) loves us enough to let us process the pain and disappointment while keeping us drawn to His side through it all.

I don’t believe for one moment that denial honors the Savior who mourned over our sin and literally gave his lifeblood to redeem it.  He is stronger than sin.  So I am confident He can handle our emotions – the anger, the sadness, the guilt, the questions – ALL of them, because he has felt all those same feelings (yes,  even  guilt… because He carried OURS).

I’ve heard a million times, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.. the evidence of things not seen…” (Hebrew 11:1)  But what’s easy to forget is that HE is that substance.  Not some little human feeling that we conjur up …or fail to conjur up, in many cases.  If drawing near Him in crisis doesn’t feel all warm and gooey, I have a hard time believing that means our faith isn’t good enough or big enough.  I even wonder if maybe it’s the strongest faith of all that can  literally crawl to Him and say… “I don’t get this.  So just hold me.”  To really have “faith” in an Almighty God, I can’t imagine we would be required to clean up our feelings and put them in a tightly sealed box that looks neat but is brimming with resentment or uncried tears.

Faith that truly trusts in His character is bold enough to ask hard questions… to be honest about our pain… and to know that our human range of emotions will never, NEVER shock Him into withholding His love from us.  He has seen and felt it all.   Authentic faith, I believe, has enough confidence in Him to be completely transparent… knowing He isn’t going anywhere.

16 thoughts on “When Faith Doesn’t Feel Like Faith (Re-post)

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  1. Emily, You said it so well. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am constantly apologizing to God about my feelings and am feeling guilty because I have let him down in some way. You have just made me me better. You always have something good inside to share and I really appreciate it.



  2. Emily,

    Thank you so much for this article. I grew up in a very strict Baptist family. At the age of four I determined that feelings must be sin. And I thought that if I didn’t tell anyone my feelings, I wouldn’t be sinning! So at the age of four, my spirit was crushed and I hid from myself.

    After years of therapy (I’m now 52), I am SO THANKFUL for the freedom to express my whole range of emotions to Jesus. It took me years to be able to identify my feelings. Now I have a REAL relationship with Jesus. I look forward to the day when I’ll have my glorified body, mind and spirit. Until then, I know that Jesus loves me and accepts me for who I am today. We have an awesome, awesome God.


  3. Emily, you really hit the nail on the head. Having been raised in Pentecostal churches as I was growing up they taught “if you don’t FEEL it, it isn’t there, isn’t real.” I never really bought into that.. It truly can get hard to keep believing when you’ve been waiting on something for a long time and don’t see progress-that’s what I’m dealing with right now. Sometimes all we can do is just keep praying those promises from the Word and keep hanging on for the sun to come out again. Thanks so much for the great word you had to share with us!

    Hugs to you & yours,


  4. Your post was the first in a series of blog posts I read today that all “happened” to be about faith. No small coincidence that the very thing I’ve been saying to God I must not have enough of….is the very thing y’all are writing about today. Thanks for being His Voice (again) to me today. 🙂


  5. Em,read your post again tonight. Trying to repack for my continuing journey. I think I can leave a little more baggage behind and have a little lighter trip.You give me a little more confidence in faith. I’ve been telling God I can’t believe in Him because of proof. It will have to be by faith. Thus, your words collided with my life today. Got a band-aid?


  6. Thanks for this post…Michelle and I are in one of those very rough patches in life right now. We still have faith but, boy, is it certainly not easy regardless.


  7. I just found you through other blogs… I forget how I got here. But this is the first thing I read and I want to jump up and shout AMEN! So now you are stuck with me… I’ll be following your blog, on Twitter… from one fellow God-loving, blogging, busy Hoosier to another… Hi!


  8. This is a discussion I’ve had often lately. Sometimes we make being a ‘good Christian’ equate to being numb. In reality, it is okay to mourn for what is lost, to feel disappointment over failures, to sit quietly and let ourselves ache.

    I’ve made it a goal to be the kind of friend who doesn’t try to explain or enlighten or try to hypothesize what God’s will might be. Sometimes, we just need to be the hand to hold, the shoulder to lean on, the eyes that cry. Beautifully said, Emily.


  9. Great post Emily – I’ve been having the same kind of revelations myself. My favorite verse pertaining to “faith over feelings” is Isaiah 26:3: Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. BTW… I’m also @CF_20 on Twitter so I’m following you there as well! 🙂


  10. Thank you for this post, I am currently going through a very rough patch and have struggled with this very issue.Sometimes it is easy to feel so alone, and yet afraid to admitt it, to others because it either feels wrong, or like no one else has had been there. Thank you again for your post I found it very enouraging and just what I needed today.


  11. Emily, I didn’t know you had this blog…on this topic..i am finding myself saying when someone asks a difficult question…’well er uh i dunno…but i believe this and this to be true’…followed by the ‘that’s faith’ punchline. I use it as a shield a defense…to fend off questions, so the one who ask the question isn’t really satisfied per se, but is realizing that he/she is talking to a brick wall, so they stop asking…and it makes me feel like a wimpy religionist… a unfit defender of the Faith..does that make sense?
    How i experience faith personally? It’s the only thing that keeps me going, keeps me functioning in this disfunctional world…and it keeps me grounded….it keeps me dreaming my dreams…it keeps me small,small enough so He can live within my heart….thanks for your insights, and honesty…i appreciate you very, very much!



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