What To Do In Your Times Of Unbelief

In our darkest hours of doubt, how then should we live?

  • Justin Zoradi
What To Do In Your Times Of Unbelief

Every journey has rocky paths, dark valleys of uncertainty, and stretches of disillusionment.

In our most desperate times of unbelief, how then should we live?

I recently stumbled upon a reflection on the legend of Saint Christopher that I've found comforting.

A Service That Is Sure – Saint Christopher

“As a youth, Christopher was gifted in every way, except faith. He was physically strong, good-hearted, mellow, and well liked by all. He was also generous, using his physical strength to help others.

Despite his gifts, he found it hard to believe in God. This, however, did not prevent him from using his gifts to serve others. He became a ferry-boat operator, spending his life helping to carry people across a dangerous river.

One night, during a storm, the ferry-boat capsized and Christopher dove into the dark waters to rescue a young child. Carrying that child to the shore, he gazed upon the child and saw there the face of Christ.

The story gives us an answer, a practical one, to one of the most difficult questions of all: What should we do when our faith is weak?

Christopher’s answer: Use your gifts to help others.

God does not ask us to have faith that is certain, but a service that is sure.

God is neither angered nor threatened by an honest agnosticism. There are, for every one of us, dark nights of the soul, silences of God, cold lonely seasons, bitter times when God’s appearances to us cannot be truly grasped or recognized. But if we faithfully help carry others, we will one day find ourselves before the person of Christ.”

If you’re caught in times of unbelief, this is the perfect time to serve. Not as a way to "work your way" into God’s graces, but as a way to stay connected to your grand calling in your short time on earth.

And for many, service can be that first step on the road toward faith.

Doubt and debate are healthy responses to the largest questions of the universe, but even if we struggle to believe, let us never struggle to serve. (Click to Tweet!)

Here’s a tip and the one I give most often:

One hour per week.

In one hour you can change the life of a child through mentoring, advocate for a cause you believe in, serve food to the hungry, or tutor a disadvantaged student.

One hour per week. You probably spend more time in the shower over the course of seven days.

Are you in a time of unbelief? Commit to a service that is sure.


Father Ron Rolheiser, Reflections For Lent

Photo Credit:
Michigan Stained Glass Census

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Comments (22)

  • Brad


    12 September 2012 at 19:54 |
    Your premise is true but unpopular. Service builds faith and faith can lead to service. But many or most people act as if life is about what they believe, instead of what they do. We resist changing our behavior more than changing our mind.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      12 September 2012 at 20:00 |
      Very true Brad. Appreciate your comments. So many act as if their life is only what they believe, rather than what they do with that belief. Well said. - Justin
  • Chris Cameron

    Chris Cameron

    12 September 2012 at 21:54 |
    There are basic principles in life: eat properly, exercise, be nice, work hard. None of these are faith. But they are better than their opposites. Service is good, but it is not faith. Yes, when doubts arise, it is good to serve (and eat well, and be nice, and work hard, etc - because these are good things to do.). The danger is in thinking that the service EQUALS faith, or is JUST AS GOOD AS faith, or is a SUFFICIENT REPLACEMENT for faith.
  • Justin Zoradi

    Justin Zoradi

    12 September 2012 at 22:22 |
    Exactly Chris. And this is the comment I was expecting and hoping to get.

    Service is not faith, nor is it a replacement of faith. It's not a way to work your way into God's graces, but it can be that first step on the road toward faith, a reminder of our grand calling on earth.
  • Drew Tewell

    Drew Tewell

    13 September 2012 at 04:18 |
    By focusing on others, it can take the focus off of ourselves and our struggles. Great writing, Justin!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      13 September 2012 at 07:23 |
      You got it Drew. Thanks for your comments man.
  • Justin Dernison

    Justin Dernison

    13 September 2012 at 06:56 |
    As always a very poignant posting which of course raises questions and gives pause for reflection. As always a few questions have arisen: What is service? If I am being compensated to do something is it still service? The bellhop, the waitress, the bank teller, the janitor, the investment broker, the President, etc, can ones "job" be service? I surmise that the answer is a resounding yes. If one is living a life a service checking your coat the door will not work. Will everyone find the same faith in living life in this manner? Of that I am not sure.
  • Sean Tarr

    Sean Tarr

    13 September 2012 at 12:43 |
    Great article Justin. Interesting thoughts to ponder and share. Thanks for posting it.
    • Sean Tarr

      Sean Tarr

      13 September 2012 at 12:44 |
      By the way you may know me as Starrzan on Twitter. ;)
      • Justin Zoradi

        Justin Zoradi

        13 September 2012 at 16:39 |
        Thanks Sean. I appreciate you reading!
  • Larry J Rutledge

    Larry J Rutledge

    13 September 2012 at 17:55 |
    Another thought provoking post!

    Scripture tells us that faith comes from hearing the word of God. It also says that faith without works is dead. This shows a very real link between both faith and works. We are imbalanced if we live one without the other.

    Whenever Jesus was approached about helping the poor his response was always to say "of course you should help the poor" ( not a direct quote from scripture :) )

    Essentially we see this picture from Jesus that seems to say we should be doing acts of service, regardless of anything else. Whether we follow Him or not, whether we have faith or not, whether we want to or not. There doesn't seem to be anywhere in scripture that gives us a condition for doing service. No, "If you have perfect faith, then show that by doing acts of service".

    The beauty of what you have shared is this ... it does not require a single shred of faith to do good for others. Scripture tells us that with faith the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains, but without a single molecule of faith we can relieve the hurt and suffering in this world ... and when we do, it restores and builds our faith in something bigger than ourselves.

    Thanks again for reminding us of the importance of obedience. We too often wait for God to get us all worked out and fixed before we turn our focus outward .. yet that is probably the one single thing God is trying to get us to do so we CAN have our life worked out.

    Thanks again!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      13 September 2012 at 18:25 |
      Love this Larry. Thanks again for another awesome comment. I can always count on you.
  • Erick Widman

    Erick Widman

    13 September 2012 at 21:45 |
    Excellent points - and I've found that service is one of those paradoxical things in life: you end up being happier and more fulfilled by getting the focus off yourself. Similarly, clarity about meaning, God and the universe usually doesn't come through mere self-reflection.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      14 September 2012 at 17:15 |
      Thanks Erick! Appreciate your comments.
  • Larry J Rutledge

    Larry J Rutledge

    14 September 2012 at 17:32 |
    I thought about this post more as I drove home from work last night. I was listening to the song "While I'm Waiting" by John Waller .. it totally speaks to this idea. Here's the chorus:

    I will move ahead, bold and confident
    Takeing every step in obedience
    While I'm waiting
    I will serve You
    While I'm waiting
    I will worship
    While I'm waiting
    I will not faint
    I'll be running the race
    Even while I wait

    We've talked about this same concept before. Isaiah 30:21 says "And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left."

    In order for God to tell us what direction is correct, we have to be moving in a direction. God expects us to step out in obedience even when we don't know what the right thing is. And then He will guide us to precisely where He wants us.

    Additionally, and this is more specific to what this post is about, there are some things which are just obvious. The sick need help, the poor need assistance, the hungry need food, the hurting need comfort, the widow needs relationship, etc. We don't have to go to our prayer closet to see if it's God's will that we give a sandwich to a hungry man.

    Of course you should give help to those in need. And, surprisingly, along the way of doing what is just plain right, God will awaken faith in your heart and you will hear him say, "...this is the way, walk in it"
  • Justin Zoradi

    Justin Zoradi

    14 September 2012 at 21:49 |
    Thanks Larry. I loved this, "In order for God to tell us what direction is correct, we have to be moving in a direction."

    Appreciate your comments so much.
  • David Sanford

    David Sanford

    17 September 2012 at 02:14 |
    Thank you so much for this post! I couldn't agree more. For 12 years I conducted a qualitative study of why individuals "lose" or can't find faith. What a privilege to hear the often gut-wrenching stories of scores of individuals. Those who finally "found" faith spoke of 9 paths. The path of service trumped all others. Thanks SO much for what you're doing!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      17 September 2012 at 02:32 |
      Thanks so much for your comment David. I'm encouraged and not surprised to hear that service was one of the key paths 'back to faith.' Makes total sense. Really appreciate you reading and commenting!
  • Debt Free Teen | Chase

    Debt Free Teen | Chase

    17 September 2012 at 02:28 |
    So well said! We will have periods of unbelief but that doesn't mean God's not there and that we must abandon our faith.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      17 September 2012 at 02:32 |
      Thanks Chase. Appreciate your comments so much. Thanks for reading.
  • Jill


    29 September 2012 at 20:21 |
    Great and timely post! Thank you Justin! Just a side note, when I "like" this post via Facebook, it posts a picture of one of the people commenting next to the article in my Facebook status. The gentleman David Sanford that commented a few up had his picture posted on my Facebook page...kind of weird, but wanted to let you know!!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      30 September 2012 at 00:21 |
      Thanks Jill! Appreciate your comments.

      Yes, I'm a bit annoyed the way the Facebook share function works. Sometimes it works great, other times not so much. Thanks for letting me know.


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