When I meet with someone walking through difficult circumstances and ask her how she has tried to work out her problems, that person will often tell me that she has tried many of the prescribed methods of the church, such as prayer, Bible reading and deeper biblical community but is still struggling with the collision of her faith and broken life. She tells me that she believes the truth of God’s Word yet doesn’t feel that truth in her heart.
This is the disconnect for so many of us with an abundance of scriptural knowledge: We know what we’re supposed to believe, but we have never experienced a crisis in which we must decide to believe. When entering a crisis, we often panic because of the crash between faith and circumstance. However, we need to look at the crisis as opportunity for the Lord to drive His truth further into our souls, shaping us and pushing us toward Him.
So I often ask myself and others three questions when struggling with a crisis: “What truth do I fail to believe about God?” “What truth do I fail to believe about myself?” and “What truth do I fail to believe about this circumstance?” Ultimately, every situation in which we struggle requires us to decide what we believe about God, ourselves and our circumstances. Unfortunately, we don’t realize that we are often deciding to believe lies instead of truth in those moments. We’re not engaging in meta-cognition, the act of thinking about what we’re thinking about.
This is what Paul means when he admonishes us to “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). We must think about where our minds automatically go in a crisis. I often realize that I automatically think, “God is not trustworthy,” or, “I must handle this on my own.” These are thoughts I must take captive, claiming truth instead of lies.
All this, of course, must be empowered by the Holy Spirit. When I try to stop feeling anxious about my circumstances, I just begin to feel anxious about feeling anxious. But when I lay my crisis before the Father and admit that I am failing to trust Him and trying to handle it on my own, He fills me with strength to forsake striving in my own flesh. He causes my heart to decide to believe through my desperate clinging to His Spirit for all that I need.