Who Lost Their Identity in the Bible?

Identity is a core part of who we are as human beings. Our identity encompasses our name, family, culture, beliefs, values, purpose, and relationship with God. Throughout Scripture, we read stories of people who underwent identity crises and struggled to find their true identity and purpose. In this blog post, we will explore some biblical figures who lost their identity for a period of their lives and how God restored them.


Our identity is rooted in being made in the image of God. When Adam and Eve sinned, humanity’s relationship with God was broken and identity was distorted. Ever since the Fall, people have struggled to find their true identity apart from God.

Here are some key takeaways we will cover about those who lost their identity in the Bible:

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  • Identity is found in relationship with God. When people lose sight of Him, they lose sight of themselves.
  • Sin and trauma can cause people to forget or reject their true identity.
  • God patiently works to remind people of their identity as His beloved children.
  • Restoration of identity comes when people turn to God in repentance and faith.
  • God uses times of identity loss to refine and strengthen those He loves.
  • Redeemed identity gives meaning, purpose and a calling to live for Christ.
w8qqn1pmqh0 Who Lost Their Identity in the Bible?

Abraham and Sarah

Abraham and Sarah experienced identity struggles when God called them to leave everything familiar and follow Him to an unknown land. They were asked to trust God’s promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations (Genesis 12:1-3). However, for many years, the couple remained childless.

This tested Abraham and Sarah’s faith in God’s promise and calling. Their identity as a married couple was distorted because of infertility. Sarah lost her identity as a mother and struggled to trust God’s purpose for her life. The long wait for a child caused her to usurp God’s plan and convince Abraham to father a child with her servant Hagar (Genesis 16:1-6). This led to family dysfunction and unresolved pain.

However, God proved faithful to His promise in His appointed timing. When Abraham and Sarah were well past normal child-bearing years, God enabled Sarah to conceive Isaac (Genesis 21:1-7). Isaac’s birth restored Sarah’s identity as a mother and Abraham’s identity as the father of many nations. Through the pain of waiting, God strengthened their faith in His faithfulness.


Jacob struggled with his identity from birth. He was named Jacob (“deceiver”) because he grasped his twin brother Esau’s heel at birth (Genesis 25:24-26). Jacob’s identity was intertwined with deception from the beginning. He manipulated Esau out of his birthright (Genesis 25:27-34) and deceived their father for Esau’s blessing (Genesis 27:1-40).

However, God met Jacob in the midst of his deception and strengthened his identity. At Bethel, God introduced Himself to Jacob and promised to be with him (Genesis 28:10-22). Years later, Jacob wrestled with God and was given the name “Israel”, meaning “one who struggles with God” (Genesis 32:22-32). This new name signified Jacob’s spiritual growth and God-given identity as the father of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Though Jacob struggled with deception much of his early life, God transformed him into a man of spiritual integrity and purpose. God redeeming Jacob’s identity teaches that He patiently works to restore identity in those willing to surrender to Him.


Jephthah grew up as an outcast in his family due to being the son of a prostitute (Judges 11:1-3). Rejected by his half-brothers, he fled and formed his own identity among a group of rebels. When threatened by the Ammonites, Jephthah’s brothers turned to him as a seasoned warrior to lead them into battle (Judges 11:4-11).

Though Jephthah regained some family identity when called to leadership, old wounds distorted his relationship with God. He made a tragic, irrational vow that if granted victory, he would sacrifice the first person to greet him upon returning home (Judges 11:30-31). To his devastation, his daughter was the first to welcome him (Judges 11:34-35). Jephthah lost sight of his identity as a child of God bound by His law.

Jephthah’s rash vow led to more family pain when he followed through with the sacrifice. This story illustrates how rejection and isolation can warp a person’s identity and relationship with God. Jephthah’s need for acceptance compelled him to make a vow that went against God’s laws. His distorted identity as an outsider fueled this tragic decision.


Ruth struggled with identity loss on several fronts. She experienced acute grief after her husband died and faced potential destitution as a childless widow (Ruth 1:1-5). Because she was a Moabite woman outside Israel, she also lost the security of her national identity.

Rather than retreat in her grief, Ruth courageously chose to accompany her mother-in-law Naomi back to Israel. She stepped forward in faith, asking the God of Israel to be her God (Ruth 1:16-17). Ruth left former comforts and false identities behind to fully embrace her new identity as a child of God.

In Israel, Ruth found godly community and her place in God’s redemptive story. As she sought provision for Naomi, her character and virtue were noticed by their kinsman redeemer, Boaz (Ruth 2:1-17). Ruth eventually married Boaz, finding security as his wife. She gave birth to Obed who became the grandfather of King David (Ruth 4:13-17).

Despite acute grief and loss of identity, Ruth found her purpose and identity in relationship with God and His people. She models faith during times of identity crisis.


Few people faced an identity crisis as severe as Job’s in Scripture. Job was a righteous, wealthy family man who served God faithfully. When God allowed Satan to attack Job’s blessings, he lost his identity as a prosperous, respected patriarch virtually overnight (Job 1:6-22).

Worse still, Job’s understanding of God was overturned. The book of Job explores the question: Will Job still love God if he loses everything? Throughout his bitter trials, Job wrestled to understand why such calamity had befallen him. His friends claimed it must be punishment for sin (Job 4:7-9). Job maintained his innocence yet could not make sense of his suffering in light of God’s justice and mercy.

Job’s courageous decision was to remain faithful despite his confused, painful state. Eventually, God spoke to Job out of the storm and reminded Him that His ways are higher than man’s ways (Job 38:1-3). Job repented of his earthly, limited perspective (Job 42:1-6). God then restored Job with even greater blessings for having persevered in faith (Job 42:10-17).

Job’s story reminds us that our human understanding is incomplete. Our identity must remain rooted in God’s unchanging divine love and wisdom. Like Job, we can trust God’s purpose even in suffering and wait patiently for redemption.


Joseph faced persistent threats to his identity beginning as a young man. As his father’s favored son, he awakened his brothers’ jealousy (Genesis 37:3-4). Their hatred erupted when Joseph shared his dreams of ruling over them one day (Genesis 37:5-11). Fueled by envy, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt (Genesis 37:12-36).

In Egypt, Joseph’s identity was again stripped away as he was unjustly imprisoned for years. However, Joseph remained faithful to God. When given an opportunity, Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and was made second in command of Egypt (Genesis 41:1-44). After reuniting with his brothers, Joseph understood God had used his trials to place him in a position to save his family during famine (Genesis 45:5-8).

Despite trauma, betrayal, and isolation, Joseph allowed God to shape his identity. His story displays God’s sovereignty in bringing redemption even when people intend harm. Joseph’s firm identity in God enabled him to forgive and bless instead of becoming bitter over the injustices done to him.


Though born a Hebrew slave in Egypt, Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s household as an adopted son (Exodus 2:1-10). However, when Moses tried to connect with his Hebrew origins, he was rejected and fled to the wilderness (Exodus 2:11-15). There God called Moses to deliver His people from Egypt (Exodus 3:7-10).

When Moses returned to lead the Hebrews, he faced further identity challenges. Pharaoh rejected Moses and increased the oppression (Exodus 5:1-23). The Hebrews also complained Moses had only increased their misery (Exodus 5:20-21). Crisis shook Moses’ confidence in his calling (Exodus 6:12).

Through this refinement, God strengthened Moses’ trust. After enduring the 10 plagues, Moses led the Hebrews out of their slavery in Egypt (Exodus 7-12). God affirmed Moses’ leadership by parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14). When the people complained again in the wilderness, God spoke with Moses face to face to confirm his authority (Exodus 33:11).

Moses teaches that when God calls us, He equips us. Our identity is secure in Him despite outside rejection. Walking in God’s purposes aligns our identity with Christ.


Peter demonstrated bold faith as Jesus’ disciple, earning him the identity as a “rock” upon which Jesus would build His church (Matthew 16:18). However, Peter’s courage failed when Jesus was arrested. Ashamed, Peter denied even knowing Christ 3 times (Matthew 26:69-75).

Peter lost a sense of his identity when Jesus was crucified. He retreated to his previous fisherman lifestyle, unsure of his direction (John 21:3). Jesus lovingly restored Peter by forgiving his denials and refocusing him on the mission ahead (John 21:15-19). At Pentecost, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and preached the gospel with conviction (Acts 2:14-41).

As Peter grew into his new identity as an apostle, he recognized his worth was in who he was in Christ. He wrote to believers about their “living hope” and “priceless inheritance” in Christ (1 Peter 1:3-4). Despite temporary failures, Peter found his true identity in relationship with Jesus.


Throughout Scripture, we see God patiently restoring identity in those who turn to Him. As humans, our worth is rooted in being made in God’s image and His relentless love for us. Though sin distorts how we see ourselves and others, God’s redemption heals and renews. When we surrender our lives fully to Christ, our spiritual identity comes into alignment. Understanding our identity in Him gives us purpose, meaning and direction. Our key takeaway is that our identity is only fully realized when rooted in intimacy with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

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