“Just Have Faith” Didn’t Work For Me


gina-butz-harmonious5By Gina Butz@gina_butz

In the winter of 2011, I was spiritually and emotionally stuck.

I wasn’t sure how I got there. All I knew was that I could not move back to something resembling normal, no matter how much I poured out my heart to my counselor, my friends, and mostly importantly to God.

I suspected it had something to do with letting some recent failures define my value. I was not seeing myself the way God did. So I did what I thought would help. I went back to the truths that had delivered me in the past when I first began to see how much success was my idol and the opinion of others was a drug.

I poured over scripture God had given me the first go around­—scripture that had set me free and brought new life. I re-read all the quotes I’d collected about being God’s beloved, about God’s acceptance of me, how I need to choose to love myself the way God does.

I felt nothing.

It was like I sat on one side of a glass wall, able to see the truth of God on the other side, but unable to grasp it. I felt cut off. I knew the truth, but my soul was left numb. I read those words and the memory of how life-giving they had once been felt like a distant dream. I cried out to God, pounding on the glass, screaming for God to break.

Again, I felt nothing.

I lived in that place for months, staring at that glass, dutifully reading truth, waiting for the wall to shatter. It didn’t. I waited for truth to penetrate my heart, but I felt as unmoved as if I were reading something in a foreign language. I could not understand why a God who loved me would let me sit there separated from what I needed.

Out of fear, I shared my experience with only a few. I thought others would tell me I just needed to have faith. I was sure they would say that feelings follow faith, and that wall would come down if I just chose to believe the truth.

I had already exhausted myself with those arguments. All I had to show for it, was contempt for the fact that I was still stuck behind that wall. The “just have faith” route didn’t seem to be working. Either I didn’t have enough faith, or God had something else in mind.

I could not shake a strange confidence that I didn’t land in that place by my own reckoning. God put me there. God kept me there, on my side of the glass, struggling, frustrated, alone, wondering. It was not a lack of faith on my part. It was not for lack of trying to hold on to truth.

Eventually a new picture from scripture gave me hope, and a new view of God. In John 6:60-70, some of those following Jesus decided his teaching was just too hard, and began to grumble. Many chose to leave him. Jesus turned to His disciples and asked, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”

It strikes me as a vulnerable question. Jesus exposes His hunger for relationship with us in it. Jesus knew that he called them to a tough road. He knew the further he went, the more he would lose. It’s a risky place to be, extending an invitation you know others may not accept.

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” they responded. Yes, it’s hard to accept this path, the disciples were saying, but where else would they go?

My wall didn’t come crashing down. Instead, I began to see in it a vulnerable invitation from God: Will you stay with me, even when it’s hard? Will you stay when you feel nothing? Are you willing to walk a lonelier path, even if it’s just you and me?

More and more, I see that walking with God is not about what God gives me. It is a heart open invitation from someone who wants me to choose God over and over out of love, regardless of the outcome. It was an invitation to faith, yes, but to faith that God is enough, apart from what God does for me.

So yes, I will sit in this place of confusion if it’s where God is. I will walk with God through the times when all I hear is silence. I will stay with God when it doesn’t make sense. I will be faithful when God doesn’t give me what I want. I will not leave, even when I’m furious with God and I doubt God’s goodness.

When “just have faith” doesn’t work, just stay close to God.


Gina has had the privilege of being in full time ministry for over 20 years, most of which were spent overseas. Most recently she can be found in Orlando, Florida, serving in Global Leadership with Cru, and loving life with her husband, two teenagers, and an imported dog. It’s a good day for her when she can use her words to encourage or get her hands dirty with DIY projects. You can follow her at her blog
www.ginabutz.com or on twitter @gina_butz