The first hours and days after Craig’s accident were filled with uncertainty. His doctors didn’t know whether he would live, or what his condition would be if he did. Craig’s family, friends, and coworkers felt helpless. All they could do was pray – and they did so nonstop. When Craig regained consciousness and could scribble brief messages on a tablet, some of his first words were “I’m scared.” And I wonder, who wouldn’t be if you were Craig?
So how have you felt when you have faced a crisis? What was your initial reaction? Were you scared? Did you stay positive and think the best? Or, did you assume the worst would happen?
In the midst of the turmoil, how easy or difficult was it for you to place the situation completely in God’s hands? Did you try to stay in control? Did you hang on to worry and fear? Or, did you take comfort in the fact that God was in charge?
Did you tend to pray more – or pray more fervently – when confronted by the frightening situation? Or, was it just too difficult to talk to God because of your anguish with Him?
I heard this quote on the radio some time ago. Can’t remember who said it, but it was this: “The same sun that melts the ice also hardens the clay.”
Some of us have been through our share of crises. Others of us have them to look forward to. No matter who we are, we are guaranteed we are going to face them.
So what did the speaker mean by this quote? Well, sometimes crises and frightening circumstances softenpeople’s hearts toward God – they are drawn closer to Him. They cry out to Him during this time of fear and uncertainty asking Him to forgive their mistakes and to help them to get through the trial they are facing. On the other hand, sometimes crises and frightening circumstances can harden people’s hearts toward God – they are pushed farther away. They yell out in anguish – something like, “If you’re a God of love, how could you let my child die? Why didn’t you heal her? I cried out to you to make my baby well and you ignored my cry! How could you do that? She’s so young and had such a promising future, but you snuffed out her life before she ever had a chance. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t need you!”
So where should we stand when facing crisis and frightful circumstances? Or maybe a better way to ask it is, where should we be heading?
If we’re throwing our hands toward heaven and asking, “Why me Lord? What have I ever done?” we will find that these are valid feelings – feelings we’ve seen expressed throughout the Bible by Saints of the Bible. But beware, if we hold onto them they will take us far from where God wants us to be. This attitude cripplesus. It keeps us from having peace. It keeps us from knowing joy. It denies us from having understanding.
We need to keep in mind that God didn’t create the messes we face in this life. This is tough to hear, but humankind did. In the beginning, God made everything good. But the problem is, we disobeyed God in the beginning and this disobedience is now part of our nature. This sin, which is passed from generation to generation, has brought about the tears, the pain, the misery, the hard work, the disease, and the death that we face in our lifetimes.
But you know what? The beautiful thing about God in the midst of this mess is that He’s now here to pick up the pieces of our broken lives and put us back together.
Remember this nursery rhyme? Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men – couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again! But you know what? God could! And that’s what He is doing in this fallen world for you and me, if only we’ll allow Him.
Fear is going to come. It’s an emotion God created within us. It’s not a bad emotion because it can saveour lives. Think about it, what if you were hiking and ran into a black bear with her cubs? What would you do – go pet the cubs, or turn and walk away slowly? Fear says, “Get out of Dodge,” and that’s exactly what you better do if you don’t want to get mauled.
Fear is what keeps me from getting too close to the edge of a high cliff. Fear is what keeps me from committing crimes because the documentaries “Scared Straight” did their job on me as teenager.
You get the idea. Fear will keep you alive and out of harm’s way.
But fear coupled with worry is not good, and is what we need to fight against. God knows that fear coupled with worry will stop us dead in our tracks, keeping us from achieving what God wants us to be. Fear and worry together is a deadly potion – it’s just like the deer in the headlights.
Psalm 27:1 reminds us that we should not worry when facing a crisis. It’s been turned into a song. It goes like this: The Lord is my light and my salvation. The Lord is the strength of my life. So I will not be afraid. No I will not be afraid. Because, the Lord is my light, the Lord is my light, the Lord is my light.
Is there any need to worry? No, God will direct us (light), will watch over us (salvation), and will be our source of strength.
Now let’s look at Philippians 4:6-7.
Verse 6 says – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
The persons who are throwing their hands to heaven, who are telling God they want nothing to do with Him and His Son, are hardened. This is one passage they don’t want to have quoted to them when they are in the midst of a trial. But for the believer – the follower of Christ – the one drawing closer to God – this is sweet to the ears. Why? It’s because verse 7 tells us the consequence of our attitude and action if we choose to follow through on what we learned in the previous verse.
Verse 7 says – “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Guard against what? Worry. Guard against whom? Satan. The verse tells you, you’ll have an inner tranquility, a peace that will overcome you and keep you from anxiety and worry, which many times lead to depression. It also tells you that Jesus will keep Satan from attacking your emotions (your heart) and from attacking your mind with bad thoughts.
When both verses are combined together we see their relevance; we see their power. Together they tell us that if we choose to refuse to be anxious about anything, but rather present our concerns and petitions with a thankful heart to God, we will have the peace of God, beyond understanding, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
So the Big Idea we can take from this scripture is: Peace is yours for the taking in the midst of crisis.
Caroline and I would like to say we are there – that there’s nothing that will trip us. We feel we’re getting there through much experience, and we’ve found out we much prefer using God as our source of strength rather than using ourselves and others in the midst of crisis.
By far, the most trying crisis in our lives was the birth of our daughter in 2003. And if you don’t know, she was born with Down Syndrome and a heart defect. Yet through it all – the hospital stays, the surgery, her future with a disability – we have been able to place it in God’s hands.
When people would call to encourage our spirit, they would tell us how we encouraged theirs. People could sense and feel the peace we had in our hearts. This peace protected us from the fear, worry, and anxiety that Satan would have used against us in this trial. This peace allowed us to focus on and minister to others who were coming into the hospital waiting room or the Ronald McDonald House who were facing similar crises with their babies and children. Our strength was in Jesus and therefore Satan had no stronghold – he left us alone.
Catastrophe, crisis, trial, and tribulation are inevitable in our lifetimes. There’s no escape because we’re part of a broken world. Science says through evolution that things are to get better. But, when you live in the real world, you know better. There’s just too much pain and suffering that you experience yourself, and you’re always hearing and seeing that things really aren’t getting better, but worse.
The wonderful news is that God is here for you – He’s here to pick up the broken pieces. But the only way He can is if we allow Him to transform our thinking about crisis.
So do you want peace, a peace that God is with you and will see you through the crisis you now face and will certainly face in the future? If you do, then ask for it and believe. It’s then that life can throw anything your way and your faith will persevere to the end.