One of my former classmates blogged about how he struggled to continue to be a Christian (I am waiting to read part 2 of his two part series).
Personally I think we all come to parts of our lives that are very difficult - what could be called a hell on earth. Death, illness, loss, relational stress, relational breakdown, family crisis - they can all trigger other internal crisis within ourselves, including a crisis of faith.
I have been in this place; since around my 10th year of life, I knew what it was to lose someone I loved. I have seen families shattered when the mother unexpectedly died. I have seen the small children crying, in shock; I have seen them still struggling, years later. These are no small things.
The question then is what gets us past or through these times; if we do, indeed, get through them. I am reminded of something Fr. Thomas Hopko said - a lot of what happens to a person, and that person's reactions (esp. about faith) come from who they have met.
My spiritual family (various brothers and sisters), my spiritual Father, my spiritual mother - they are part of this.
For me it is also a glimpse of God's love - an accepting warm love - when I was a teenager that kept me from giving up. When I struggled to believe, I would think of this experience and know that there was something more out there, even when it seemed totally alien to me.
Also now it is the Church and the Saints and the Icons. The monasteries. The Church and the Saints are part of this love. Humility, I have been told, is the other side of love; one coin two sides.
These things, they keep me.
The Psalms, they uphold me; Kathleen Norris writes of the Psalter as sustaining prayers, keeping her while her husband battled cancer.
Above all is God's mercy.
Psalm 23 - Thy mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life.
One of the translations I read replaces follow with pursue.
I know too well how I fail in areas of my life daily. I worry, fail, try to trust, and then find myself worrying some more (for example).
Yet I am promised that His mercy is new every morning. In the end somehow God pursues and keeps me. May we live under God's mercy forever and strive towards it.