I am 38 years old. I have been married for 15 years. My son, Alexei, is 11 years old. My husband and I have been serving in the teen ministry for 15 years.

I have had an eventful life so far; I have been through the divorce of my parents, the loss of my father, moving from a small town to a big city, physical and emotional abuse, attempted suicide, postpartum depression, the death of my mother and the loss of close friends who left Jesus.

Looking back, I see a lot of pain, shed tears, fear, disappointment, confusion and loneliness. I know that many of us have been through such moments. Moments that have destroyed and hurt us. However, I can say that all those moments have made me who I am today and brought me closer to God. These moments have revealed to me the heart of Jesus, helped me to come to God and keep my faith.

Today I want to talk to you about crises of faith openly, honestly and practically. I will share examples from the lives of the saints of the Old and New Testaments, and from my life too. With God’s help, I want to give you tools that will help you overcome crises and find God’s way.


The word ‘crisis’ is very interesting. This word, when translated, means ‘decision’ and ‘turning point’. The question is; from what does one turn and in which direction should one turn?

Clear and Plow

We will look at topic at hand in a springlike manner. After all, spring is in the garden. Let’s think of garden beds. We will dig our way to the answers concerning crises of faith. In order for something to grow up out of the earth, one must select a site with good soil, clean it up and loosen it. We will use this analogy to help us understand our hearts.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Matthew 13:44 (NIV)

The treasure is hidden in the field. In order to find it, the man had to take up a shovel. Crises are transitional periods; they show hidden conflicts and imbalances. As you know, hidden conflicts are not quarrels with friends, but imbalances (not extra pounds that you have gained over the winter). We get rid of weeds, dig & loosen the soil so that it can be saturated in oxygen and other useful elements from the depths.

God is constantly digging up the soil of our hearts. The Bible contains many examples that include weeds, soil and earth. If we did not have crises, our hearts would suffocate and stop altogether. Satan and the world are constantly pressuring our hearts and stamping on the soil so that the fresh greenery never sees the sun.

Be Careful

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faith ful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NIV)

Our practical framework is scripturally-based. Let us examine this passage from the Bible. How can a person stand firm and be confident, but also be able to fall? Because there is something that can be shaken beneath him. The land on which he stands! A few tremors are enough to make a person fall if he lacks the needed support.

The passage does not end there. God promises, that He will not allow any situation to overcome us. He gives us a way out. Why does our faith decline? The answer is in verse 13. This is a normal, human test. Normal and human means that it is not beyond measure. One who is able to pass through the trial is the one to whom the trial comes. Let us remember this. It is not beyond our measure, we can pass it, because God gives us a way out and helps us rise. This is a promise. From this we derive a framework for the analysis of life examples.

  1. What situation does God give to dig into a person’s heart?
  2. How does this situation look through the eyes of a character from the Bible/a person?
  3. What does this situation truly reveal in one’s heart?
  4. How does it help one go through a personal crisis and change for the better?

Our first example for analysis will be Peter.

Peter was born into the family of Jonah, a simple fisherman, in Bethsaida. His original name was Simon (Shimon). By nature, Peter was very lively, impulsive and hot-tempered; he was the one who wished to walk on water toward Jesus, and it was he who cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant in the Garden of Gethsemane. On the night after Jesus’ arrest, Peter, as Jesus had predicted, showed weakness and, fearing persecution, renounced him three times before the cock crowed. But later Peter sincerely repented and was forgiven by the Lord. He was present, together with James and John, on Mount Tabor when Jesus’ transfiguration took place.

The book of Acts depicts how the apostle Peter preached with such power that up to five thousand people turned to Christ in one go, the sick were healed and the dead were raised. People held him is such high regard that people took the sick to the streets so that even the his shadow would overshadow them as he would pass by. Let’s turn to the Bible and go through our framework.

“And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, means Peter).” John 1:42 (NIV)

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” Luke 22:31-34 (NIV)

“Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:74-75 (NIV)

Jesus promised Simon that he would become a rock. What situation changed him? From Peter’s point of view, being questioned by the fire was scary. Two women and a stranger were suspicious that he had a close relationship with Jesus. God dug into Simon’s heart and what came out? Fear of people. But could Simon he have become Peter if he were more afraid of people than of God?

“But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20 (NIV)

Peter overcame his difficulty! Let us have a look at someone from the old testament, Jacob.

Jacob is the son of Isaac and Rebekah and the brother of Esau. Acting on the instructions of his mother, Jacob deceived his father and deprived his brother of the blessings that he was due. Upon receiving his undeserved blessing, Jacob traveled to his father’s homeland to find himself a wife. He fell in love with Rachel, was deceived by her father when he replaced Rachel with Leah on the wedding bed, Jacob worked for 20 years to marry Rachel, and worked another 10 years to return home. On the way back home, he fought with God, received a personal blessing and a new name from him, met his brother, and showed his humbled heart.

Let us look at some Bible verses of this story. I recommend you to study this story in its entirety at home (Genesis 27-33). We will look at a few verses from these chapters.

“Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.” Genesis 27:11-12 (NIV)

“Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the LORD will be my God and[b] this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” Genesis 28:20-22 (NIV)

“He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me.” Genesis 31:5-7 (NIV)

“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?”. “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Genesis 32:24-28 (NIV)

“He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.” Genesis 33:3 (NIV)

“Esau asked, “What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met? To find favor in your eyes, my lord,” he said.” Genesis 33:8 (NIV)

“No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably. Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need. And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it.” Genesis 33:10-11 (NIV)

Jacob’s heart really changed. He was ready to share, and not take away! Jacob fought with God to receive the blessing that he deserved. No cheating. He received both mercy from God and the honor of becoming the first in the family of Israelites. This was God’s decision. Jacob did not take this birthright from anyone!

Study out the stories of Sarah, Abraham and Paul at home. They also received their new names as signs of change. Try to understand which situations dug into their hearts? What did these situations reveal in them? How did these situations help them change?

Life and Death

I want to use an example from my life and and analyse it using the framework used to analyse the aforementioned biblical characters. A few years ago, I found out that my mother’s sister was in very bad

shape because of a tumor. I consulted with my husband and he let me go for a couple of days to go and spend some time with my aunt. I have many relatives in Belarus. Another one of my mother’s sisters and her three sons, my cousins – with whom I am quite close – all live there. The plan was simple. I was to arrive by train in the morning and leave for home the next day.

As I traveled by train I prayed. I had no idea what awaited me. My relatives and I gathered at the table of one of our homes. I tried to maintain a spiritual tone during our conversation, but I felt that I was defending myself and snapping at my relatives. We ended up talking about financial contributions to the church and leadership of the church, which steals money from honest citizens.

The mood was very low. I was able to get some time alone with my aunt. Everyone went home as I remained with her. I knew that I did not have much time. My aunt was very weak. The sun started to set. We spoke about various current affairs. But I still could not muster up the courage to talk to my aunt about Christ.

It was completely dark when I decided to open up my Bible. My aunt did not allow me to turn on the light. Things got to the point where she became completely exhausted and said goodbye. I went to my aunt’s house to try and get some sleep. But I could not fall asleep. After some time, I realized that this was my last chance to tell her about Jesus. And it dawned on me. I cried like a little child. I did not cry because my aunt was dying. I cried out of self-hatred for my cowardice and weakness.

What kind of disciple are you after that? That was the main question. I returned home crushed and broken. I hid from God. From my point of view the situation was terrible. I did not cope with the mission and disappointed God and Christ. I felt I no longer had a place in the church.

A few weeks later my aunt died. That really was our last conversation. I attended the funeral. I took a Bible with me for my aunt. I traveled without expectations and hope. Hope disappeared. My Orthodox relatives used the services of an Orthodox priest for the funeral service. I felt unwanted.

Then something happened. Something invisible to the eye. I heard a word. It turned out that despite the mournful singing, the priest chose some very comforting and deep passages of scripture. They penetrated my heart and gave me comfort. I gave the Bible to my aunt. The other relatives asked why I had given a Bible to aunt alone. They also wanted to read the word. This was my first shock. My brother, the most critical of all my relatives, came to see me before bedtime. He said, “Well then, tell me about your God.”

I was able share my faith with him and read several passages of scripture to him. He did not interrupt me once. This was the second thing that stunned me. Then he got up and said that “in a few years we will return to this conversation”. At that moment in time he was not ready to change his life. A month later, another brother of mine moved to Moscow and began attending our c hurch services. He even took part in giving financial contribution – the third thing that surprised me. When his father became ill due to a tumor, my brother visited him and gave him a Bible. He said, “Your life is in the hands of God, read the bible every day, at least a verse per day. Seek God. Whether you live you or die is down to him.”

Finally, my third brother came to Moscow to visit. He also attended our church services. I began to share the w ord and my beliefs with my relatives more.

What changed? What did this reveal in my heart? What did God want to teach me through this crisis in my mission field? It became clear that cowardice and an idea that I was the one changing this world were things deep in my heart. But God wanted to tell me that it is he who opens the doors of faith and changes the hearts of people. I need to be bold and not be silent. Once again I had to deal with my pride. I am learning to love my family more.

Postpartum depression

Since my days as a teenager, I dreamed of becoming a mother. I used to have dreams that I was pregnant. I was adamant that I would become a good mother. I am very patient, kind and able to take care of others well by nature. I got married at the age of 24. It was clear to me that in a couple of years we would start thinking about children, but that was not obvious to my husband.

This was not because he didn’t love children. He loves them very much. It was that he was 22 years old and did not work yet. He was a student at a medical university. It was the situation concerning children that revealed what was in my heart, like nothing else.

Firstly, I had strong conflicts at work with my new bosses. I felt that my bosses had a very unjust attitude towards me and my work. I cried a lot because of this. Then a ‘brilliant’ idea came to mind. I thought it would be great for me to stay on staff, but go on maternity leave. I thought after a few years, everything would just take care of itself. I began to put pressure on my husband and tried to convince him that I really need to become pregnant. He was against this idea, but offered to try for a baby anyway.

Many of my friends could not get pregnant, but I became pregnant right away. I joyfully went on maternity leave. I felt like I was a winner, everything was going so well.

Three months later, my world began to change. My boss was also pregnant and went on maternity leave. I just needed to be patient a little bit more. I had a mild pregnancy, but giving birth was very difficult. I went through my own personal hell: fetal hypoxia, intranarcous awakening and lack of milk. Then came a deep depression. Instead of joy, I felt devastation and loneliness, I was like a beast in a cage. I just wanted to be free and disappear. I stopped praying and reading the Bible. Nothing special had happened. Lightning did not strike and kill me. I ran from reality into an anime-like world and didn’t want to think about anything.

From my point of view, this challenge posed the following questions: where is the joy of motherhood? This is a setup. Being a mother is not good. These are fetters. This situation revealed the pride in my heart, a huge sea of pride, selfishness and weakness of my relationship with God. I did not trust him. I wanted to decide everything myself. But He knew that I was not ready for this yet. I recognized my sins and repented before my husband for pressuring him and not trusting his leadership. How did I survive? The word of God in my heart saved me.

The Bible was in my mind and heart. As soon as something happened, the word came. The Spirit worked. This period of my life had its consequences. Like a scar. Quiet times were no longer a habit for me. I fight to have them all the time. All because I was on the other side for a while. I gained a greater understanding of my heart. My child revealed all the demons in me. I was not so kind and patient. Only now do I understand. Understanding who I truly am humbles me every day. I thank God that he did not allow me to die spiritually. He gave me relief and a way out as promised.


If you are struggling and your faith is going through a crisis, then some important lesson from God awaits you. Do not run. Continue to believe and pray, seek God’s will and his way.

Many of you are familiar with instances when someone asks you to pray for everything to be okay in life and for challenges to end. But who are we and who is God? What do we know about this person’s path in life? Why did God give him such a challenge/trial? What will it teach him? Will he be able to faithfully reach heaven if he does not go through it?

Pray for the well-being of your friends, for their physical and spiritual health, and for the mercy of God. Also pray for your friend to learn his/ her lesson so that his/her heart will change for the better. God digs deep into our hearts so that we can see what we treasure on the surface. Finally, I wish to encourage you with one more passage from the Bible:

“Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.” Deuteronomy 8-1-5 (NIV)

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