Responding to CRISIS
Have you ever been through a season where the only place that makes sense is when you're in the WORD?
My guess is, there are lots of nods and hand-raising going on. Scripture tells us to expect trial. It tells us to expect trouble. And it also tells us to take heart. (see John 16:33)
That’s what I have been doing much of recently. Taking heart. In the middle of trouble. In the middle of suffering. In the middle of trial. In the middle of shattered desire.
But my God is faithful.
I wouldn’t have always said that. There would have been a time when I would have played the blame game. Or held a “why me” pity party. But let me tell you, neither option served to produce endurance to character to hope. (see Romans 5:3-4) Blame games and pity parties simply served to put distance between myself and I AM THAT I AM.
It’s not that I’m not tempted to go that route...it would definitely seem justified, right? But somewhere along the road, my attitude toward suffering began to shift. There are various instances I can share, but today I want to expand on three.
When I miscarried two babies in a span of six months in 2011, I remember praying this prayer: “Lord, help me not sin in my grief.” Blessedly, I can attest to His provision. Something so grief-inducing as losing precious life would have, at one time, shaken me to my core. But God was faithful to that pain-filled plea. My heart was still broken, but He bound me up.
And He did the same last summer when a heavy weight of family crisis fell once again on our shoulders. It was a time of great adversity that not only affected hubby and me, but also our young family. It felt like a direct hit, and threw us into the fire of rage-filled childhood trauma. Previously, I would have placed my anger over the injustice of the situation at the sovereignty of God...this time, it was properly placed on the sin of man. We were afflicted but not crushed. Perplexed but not driven to despair. Persecuted but not forsaken. Struck down, but not destroyed. (see 2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
God promised to fight for our family. He did. He is. The trial isn’t over...the ramifications continue to surface...but HE is faithful.
And now, the crushing weight of crisis is here once more, this time bringing chaotic confusion and ever-widening ripples. I have added to my miscarriage prayer: “Lord, help me not sin in my grief, nor in my anger!” We’re in deep waters, but He is with us. We’re in rivers of difficulty, but we won’t drown. We’re in fires of oppression, but we won’t be burned up.
For He is the Lord, our God,
the Holy One of Israel, our Savior. (see Isa 43:2-3)
But how do we persevere and develop character that leads to hope?
I’m guessing there are different methods for each of us. Because of that, I can only share a few observations and tips that have helped me stand. Perhaps they will be of some comfort/help to you as well.
- Increase time reading the Word. In times of crisis, it can be easy to let circumstance dictate time in the Word...making it so we spend LESS time reading the inspired Word of the God, when we really need MORE. The competition for time is a fierce part of the battle. We must fight to increase time soaking in the WORD.
- Pray. Draw near to God. James 4:8 tells us that when we draw near Him, He will draw near us. May it be!
- Pray on the ARMOR. One of the prime battle scriptures I draw on frequently is in Ephesians 6--The ARMOR of GOD. As I studied this scripture, I was struck over and over by a few words: full, all, every, whole. It is vital for us to utilize every piece of protection we have. And after the battle, we’ll still be standing firm.
- Turn to the Psalms. In seasons of trial, I have found comfort in reading the Psalms out loud-- praying them, crying them, claiming them. There have been times when tears have been my only prayer as I poured myself out before the throne. The Psalms do a great job in taking us through emotion and then re-grounding us back under the Lord on High.
- Sleep in peace. This is a tricky one for me. When I am stressed, I don’t sleep well. I don’t sleep peacefully. Ever had one of those dreams where you wake up and ACTUAL tears are streaming down your face? Yeah...I have those! One thing I do that seems to help me is to sleep with my Bible. I use it like my kiddos use their stuffed animals. Just the act of holding/touching the Word seems to bring me comfort. And in times of great crisis, any sort of balm to my heart is welcome!
- Exhortation. I preach the Word to myself. I write. I read. I pray. I read scripture aloud. Anything to remind me of God and center me in Truth.
- Worship. The day after the most recent crisis hit, I lost my voice because I sang continuously. As loud as possible. There are songs that hit all the emotions of the Psalms (that’s what the psalms are after all!) There are songs that lament, songs that praise, songs that exhort, songs that encourage. In crisis, we need to worship. To me, one striking part of musician Jeremy Camp’s testimony is this: When his first wife died of cancer, Camp said that even though it was hard, the family gathered to worship the Lord in song after she died. There's beauty in his testimony, and an example to follow. For, even in trial, God is still God. He is still Good. He is still Faithful. It is good for us to glorify His name.
- Be Still. This can also be hard. We don’t really like silence, do we? But as we are still, we can know He is God! (PS 46: 10)
I will leave you with Psalm 46 in its entirety. Please remember when trial comes, you are not alone. He is with you. He is near the brokenhearted. And in Him, nothing that happens is ever wasted!
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
Though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
He utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
How he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
He burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our fortress.