Faith can be difficult. When we face trials, tragedies, or simply an emptiness in our souls, it’s easy to doubt God’s presence and love. If your faith has been wavering lately, you’re not alone. Many great heroes of the Bible struggled with their faith at times.
The good news is that we can look to Scripture for encouragement and reminders of God’s faithfulness. If you’re short on time, here are some key books of the Bible to read when struggling with faith: Psalms, Job, Lamentations, John, and 1 Peter.
In this article, we’ll explore why these books in particular can strengthen and restore our faith when it’s being tested. You’ll discover how the psalmists’ raw emotions mirrored your own, learn from Job’s Example of remaining faithful through suffering, gain insight into God’s faithfulness from Lamentations, be reminded of Christ’s divinity and salvation through John, and receive encouragement from Peter to stand firm.
Psalms: Raw Emotions Mirrored
Expressions of Doubt
The book of Psalms contains many raw expressions of doubt and questioning in the midst of struggle. Psalm 13 begins with “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” (v.1). Other psalms cry out to God asking why He seems so distant and silent when trouble comes.
These honest expressions give voice to human doubt and pain. We all at times feel abandoned by God, and the Psalms assure us that He can handle our doubts.
Cries for Help
Alongside expressions of doubt are desperate cries for help. “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck” (Psalm 69:1). “Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress” (Psalm 4:1). God invites us to cry out to Him freely in times of need.
He can handle our rawest emotions. The psalmists model raw, unedited prayers that hold back nothing from God. We often filter our prayers, but God says bring me your real, messy prayers.
Remembering God’s Faithfulness
Even in the depths of doubt and pain, the psalmists choose to remember God’s past faithfulness. “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done” (Psalm 143:5).
They urge their souls, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5). This choice to still praise God redirects their focus back to His power and steadfast love. Remembering the past gives hope for the future.
The Psalms validate our pain while reminding us of God’s eternal faithfulness. They guide us into raw, authentic relationship with a God big enough to handle all our emotions. What a gift to have this inspired prayer book that mirrors our deepest pains and highest praises.
Job: An Example of Faith Amidst Suffering
The book of Job provides an incredible example of remaining faithful and maintaining integrity through intense suffering. When Job lost everything – his wealth, his family, and his health – he refused to curse God (Job 1:20-22).
Despite his wife and friends encouraging him to give up on God, Job responded “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10). His steadfast commitment to righteousness is an inspiration for believers struggling to reconcile troubles with faith.
Yet Job was not a stoic robot, unfeeling in his faith. He poured out raw, emotional cries to God, pleading for answers about the injustices done to him (Job 7, Job 10). Job asks bold, daring questions – why do the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer?
This models bringing honest doubts before God. Questioning and wrestling are not opposites of faith – they can purify faith. We see God respond kindly to Job, not rebuking him but reminding Job of His power and presence.
Humility Before God
Ultimately, Job models humility before the mystery of God’s wisdom. Job admits his ignorance and finite human perspective compared to God’s infinite knowledge (Job 42:1-6). His bold complaints mature into awe-inspired trust.
This teaches us that faith is not about having all the answers – it is about entrusting ourselves to a God far bigger than we can imagine. Job’s story gives hope that we can be honest with God yet grow deeper in faith through sufferings.
Lamentations: God’s Faithfulness
Mourning and Grief
The book of Lamentations expresses deep grief and mourning over the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple of God. The author, Jeremiah, cries out in agony as he sees the devastation and experiences severe hardship (Lam 1:12-22).
Yet even in the midst of extreme lament, Jeremiah acknowledges God’s great faithfulness and compassion. He states, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam 3:22-23).
Though Jeremiah mourns, he still trusts in God’s lovingkindness.
Trusting God’s Compassion
The book of Lamentations reminds believers to trust in God even in times of suffering. Jeremiah admits his pain is great, yet he acknowledges “the Lord is my portion” and “the Lord is good to those whose hope is in him” (Lam 3:24, 25).
Despite the tragedy and grief, Jeremiah anchors his hope in God alone. This serves as an incredible model for Christians today. When walking through suffering, it can be tempting to turn away from God. However, Lamentations urges readers to do the opposite – turn towards God and His unfailing compassion.
Though heartbroken, Jeremiah chooses to praise God and proclaim, “Great is your faithfulness” (Lam 3:23).
Hope for the Future
In the midst of lamenting, Jeremiah expresses hope for the future. After describing Jerusalem’s ruin, he states “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam 3:21-23). Though weeping remains for the night, joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). Jeremiah clings to this promise of God’s restoration. He exclaims, “Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone” (Lam 3:32-33). Despite present troubles, Lamentations points to God’s redemptive purposes for the future.
John: Christ’s Divinity and Salvation
Jesus as God Incarnate
The Gospel of John powerfully proclaims Jesus as God incarnate (John 1:1-18). John presents Jesus as the divine Word through whom all things were created, but who condescended to become a human being in order to reveal God’s glory and achieve salvation for humanity.
John 1:14 wonderfully declares, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Throughout his Gospel, John emphasizes Jesus’ divine identity and mission to grant eternal life to all who believe in him (John 20:31).
Belief in Christ
John stresses the importance of believing in Jesus as the divine Son of God. He presents faith in Christ as the only way for people to receive eternal life and become children of God (John 1:12; 3:16).
John 20:31 explicitly states the purpose for writing the Gospel: “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Salvation is available to those who put their faith in Jesus and his atoning death on the cross.
Those who reject Jesus stand condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:18).
Born Again Through Christ
John 3 records Jesus’ famous conversation with Nicodemus where Christ speaks of the necessity of being “born again” to enter God’s kingdom (John 3:3). This spiritual rebirth comes through the work of the Holy Spirit who brings new life to those who believe in Jesus (John 3:5-8).
When a person is born again through repentant faith in Christ, they become a child of God and receive eternal life. John later writes, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1).
Salvation is a work of God’s grace received as a free gift when sinners place their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord (Ephesians 2:8-9). Through Christ, believers can have a transformed life as “new creations” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
1 Peter: Standing Firm in Faith
Suffering for Christ
In his first epistle, the apostle Peter encourages believers to stand firm in their faith, even in the face of intense persecution. As one of Jesus’s closest disciples, Peter knew firsthand the suffering that comes with following Christ (Luke 22:54-62).
Now writing to a community of Christians facing ostracization and oppression, he reminds them that their suffering ultimately paves the way for God’s glory.
Peter urges his readers not to be surprised by the “fiery trial” of persecution, but rather to rejoice that they “share Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 4:12-13). Just as Jesus was reviled and mistreated, so too will his followers face hostility from a watching world.
Yet in the midst of affliction, believers have hope knowing that God’s spirit rests upon them (4:14) and that their tormentors will one day give an account before God (4:5).
Living Holy Lives
While awaiting vindication, Peter charges Christians to live upright and holy lives. As ” aliens and strangers” in a hostile culture (2:11), they must abstain from fleshly lusts and be subject to human authorities (2:11-13).
Most critically, they must model the love, unity, and servant-heartedness displayed by Jesus Christ (2:21-25, 3:8-12).
In a pagan environment rife with hostility, the integrity and self-sacrifice embodied by believers would serve as a bold witness. Their blameless conduct might even convert some of their defamers (3:1-2, 3:15-16).
By living out the gospel, Christians demonstrate that though rejected by men, they have been chosen and precious in the sight of God (2:4-10).
Resisting the Devil
As the source of all evil, the devil seeks to devour faithful followers of Jesus Christ (5:8). Through his schemes and deception, Satan tempts believers to doubt God, harbor bitterness, live in fear, and abandon their hope.
Yet Christians have spiritual weapons to counter these attacks – including gospel truth, prayer, humility, and an unshakeable trust in God (5:6-10).
While the devil prods them to stumble, Peter calls Christians to stand fast against his advances. By resisting the enemy through faith, they demonstrate that their loyalty lies with their Heavenly Father rather than any earthly tormentor.
Though reviled by the world, they can take confidence in the day of salvation ready to be revealed (1:3-9). Come what may, their eternal victory in Christ is assured (5:10-11).
When faith gets shaky, it’s important to return to the strong foundation of God’s Word. The books covered in this article all provide beautiful examples of imperfect people clinging to God in the midst of trials.
Though the circumstances vary, the constant thread is God’s ultimate faithfulness towards His people. Meditate on these passages. Let the words soak into your soul. You may not find all the answers, but you’ll be reminded that you’re not alone.
Generations of believers have tread this path before, and God met them in their need. He promises to meet you in your need as well. Keep pressing into Him, even when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. He will never leave you or forsake you. Place your trust in Him today.