When people describe their faith journeys, they include events that could be described as “defining moments.” Some of these are good: being awarded a scholarship, discovering a new opportunity, getting married, having a baby, receiving a promotion or a job transfer. But just as often, these defining moments involve pain and disappointment: the death of a friend or family member, divorce, prolonged illness, a job transfer, betrayal by a friend. As you know, when it comes to faith, circumstances cut both ways. A positive event can adversely affect faith or strengthen it. Adverse circumstances can damage an individual’s faith or deepen it. People lose faith when life gets too easy, but people lose faith in the face of tragedy as well. Either way, life has the potential to impact faith for good or bad.
The challenge with this value is that there’s no way to program a pivotal circumstance. We don’t see them coming. We don’t schedule them. And we never know how they will impact our faith until we are in the middle of them. But as you know from your own story, big, emotionally charged, unexpected life events are major factors in the development or erosion of our confidence in God. When it comes to a pivotal circumstance the reality is this: It isn’t really the event itself that grows or erodes our faith; it is our interpretation of the event that determines which way we go. The conclusions we draw about God in the midst of our pivotal circumstances drive us toward or away from Him.