Crisis faith is the supernatural faith of God Himself released in us. When our self-sufficiency is swept away, God responds to our honesty and humble cry.
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
There is an enormous difference between crisis faith and a crisis of faith, though they usually occur simultaneously. The one is our response to a situation, and the other is God’s response to our response. It’s worth looking at both and understanding the dynamic between them, because we need to. The day will certainly come – the Bible tells us over and over – when our faith is the only lifeline in a stormy sea churning towards our destruction. This is the moment when our self-sufficiency is revealed as hopelessly inadequate.
A crisis of faith comes before crisis faith.
Most of the time, we chug along happily, well able to dismiss the little doubts that crop up along the way. There’s stress and pressure, but we’re able to manage them and react in the Word, drawing on what we know to refute, rebuke, or refuse these little inner whisperings. Having the doubts is not the issue. It’s how we deal with them that matters. As we mature in our Christian journey, it’s very easy to slide into a place of complacency and to imagine our faith to be strong and stalwart. Self-sufficiency creeps in, as though we’re somehow the source of our faith. It’s ‘ours’ rather than grace. Sometimes, it takes only a single massive broadside to shake the foundation we stand on so glibly in the good times.
Usually when we least expect it, something erupts and we find ourselves in that back-against-the-wall crisis. In a second, all we have held onto seems swept away. Negative memories and emotions sweep in like a Tsunami, we’re adrift in a maelstrom, and we’re trapped in a drowning moment. This is the crisis of faith. Nothing ‘works.’ We declare the Word, pray the Word, and flounder for the right Word. But in the darkness, we see only desperate hands reaching for the single lifeline that can bring us safely through. That lifeline is crisis faith.
Our measure of faith is not crisis faith.
We encourage ourselves with the truth that God has given us a measure of faith. The logical – and correct – assumption is that is sufficient, because He is a God of sufficiency. But the phrase is all too often used out of context. Romans 12:3 actually says this: For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. It’s as much a warning as it is an encouragement. We must never persist in presumptive faith. Our measure is what the other saints are given too. It’s a daily measure for daily living, not crisis faith.
Through grace, God provides the measure of faith we need for salvation. He also provides the measure of faith we use in our daily lives and in our journey towards maturity. The good news is that it’s not static. God always provides what we need. As we grow and mature, our measure increases accordingly. The level to which we are prepared to live by faith determines the measure of faith we receive. Crisis faith, however, is an extraordinary and supernatural release, over and above our daily measure.
The gift of faith is also not crisis faith.
This dispensation of faith is listed among the spiritual gifts, all of which are put in place for ministry purposes. It’s a gift given to benefit the church and assist the growth of the kingdom of God. While it’s practical outworking can cover every single eventuality – from church expansion to evangelism to healing and deliverance – it’s primary purpose is the kingdom. It’s for the good of the church as a whole rather than crisis faith for ourselves.
There are times when the gift of faith and crisis faith may ‘overlap.’ But always, the eventual purpose is to benefit the church. Our testimony, for example, of a supernatural gift of faith in severe crisis may impact an unbelieving family member or friend, bringing them into the kingdom. There is no rigidity in the gracious dispositions of God’s gifts to His people. But however the gift of faith is given and used, it will always be directed at the kingdom of God and His work.
Crisis faith is supernatural.
It is a sovereign act of God who intervenes to provide us with a supernatural faith in the moment it is needed. I vividly recall opening my security gate and being confronted with a knife at my throat. The man was so close, I could feel and smell his breath. In that moment, I knew with absolute certainty that there was nothing I could do. Every verse, every word, every promise vanished. I teetered on the brink of death, and I found no faith to believe otherwise. All I could do was, like the father in today’s verse, turn to God in honesty and helplessness. He responded with a supernatural surge of crisis faith that empowered me to confront Him with such boldness, he left and I surprised myself witless.
What should have been a haunting memory of terror has become a precious assurance. Looking back, I can even smile and give thanks because I discovered a beautiful truth. The closest I have ever come to being able to describe what happened is Joel 3:16: The Lord also will roar from Zion, And utter His voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the Lord will be a shelter for His people, And the strength of the children of Israel. I knew that I knew that I knew that Him within me was greater than him without. And He proved it in a split second. The righteous roar was God Himself, my strength. There’s no way it could have been me. He responded to my lack, gave me crisis faith, and acted when I took hold of it.
Absolute honesty is critical for crisis faith
I have never forgotten that lesson and often mull over it, gleaning every drop of understanding and assurance I can. Today’s verse has special relevance for me, because I know the depth of this father’s helplessness. I know what it is to look at myself and see my lack. There is nothing as desperate as that moment when you confront your crushing crisis and find that the faith you thought you had is swept away. No amount of declaring the Word – even if you can remember anything – can change that. Without the faith to back them, they’re empty mouthings of hollow words. To pretend otherwise, even to ourselves, is to deny ourselves access to the crisis faith that alone can save us.
Crisis is a hard teacher. We so easily convince ourselves that all is as it should be. Secretly, we can even become prideful when we discern a ‘lack of faith’ in others. We may couch it tones of humility and talk of God’s grace, but it’s futile. It’s self-sufficiency masquerading as faith. It’s not that we’ve lost our measure of faith. Our focus is on self rather than God, and we’re in presumption. Real crisis is when we find ourselves in a place where that measure cannot supply the crisis faith – the supernatural, powerful, situation-changing faith we need. Knowing this enables us to confess our lack and cry out to God. This is life-and-death honesty that will always be rewarded.
We must ask for crisis faith.
We will never find ourselves in any crisis ‘too big’ for God. All things are possible with Him, but He desires that we ask. When we do, He is willing and able to supply supernatural crisis faith and an abundance of grace. Asking clears the decks. It sweeps away the pretence, the obstacles, and the excuses. When self-sufficiency is stripped away by crisis, it leaves no room for anything but honesty and absolute humility before God. His response will always be crisis faith and His supernatural power and grace to bring us through.
Father, when we see Your mercy and grace to us who don’t deserve it, we can only give thanks, praise, and worship to You. Help us to be mindful that the faith You give us is never fixed or limited. Help us to seek honesty in faith, to remain humble and teachable, and above all, to hold fast to You alone.