April 13, 2017
God Shows Up in a Crisis
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Have you ever ridden in a helicopter? It’s the ride of a lifetime! But when you land … now that’s another story. A helicopter landing sends absolutely everything flying in a hundred different directions at ridiculously high speeds. I know. That’s how I live life.
One of the reasons I love the apostle Paul is because he seemed to live the same kind of life. Philippians is one of my favorite books written by Paul. The fourth chapter of Philippians is one of the most positive passages Paul ever wrote … and it is written in the midst of a helicopter landing in Paul’s life! Paul is in a Roman jail awaiting judgment and possible execution. He could be terrified and doubting God at this point. Instead he is writing a book about joy and peace. How in the world did he pull that off?
Life is filled with crisis. Each one of us can tell our story about a disaster we are facing or a storm we are going through. If you are a Southerland, you live from one crisis to another. That is just the way we roll.
I battle clinical depression on a daily basis.
I have Scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, arthritis and stenosis in my back.
My husband has A fib. He has had two heart ablations and 31 cardio versions.
Financial crisis as a result of the above mentioned medical adventures always seem to be lurking just around the corner.
And I won’t even get started with kids and grandkids. You are definitely not up for that today!
I know many of you have the same kind of struggles. You know what I am talking about. The fact is that all of God’s children deal with crisis. Jesus said, “It rains on the righteous and the unrighteous.” He also said “In this world you will have trouble.”
Let me share with you what I have learned about dealing with pain and crisis. Character rises to the top over time and under pressure. From that truth comes my prescription for how we get through this world and how we respond to the damage we experience in this world.
We hurt. We are deeply injured. Pain is always about proximity. We must allow our emotions to flow. We must allow the emotions of others to flow. We must realize that emotions come in a different order and on a different schedule. Some will grieve first. Others will be angry. Some will be in denial. Some will be vocal. Some will withdraw. But we all hurt. Jesus wept. He knows about hurt and hurts with us.
We guard. The passage we read from Philippians 4 talks about “guarding your hearts and minds.” That is an important word for us when we face a crisis.
Guard your heart from despair. I know your heart is broken. People you love and trust have betrayed you. Your God is still with you. He will never leave you or betray you. The enemy will whisper to you that you are going down. That may be his goal, but it is not God’s plan.
Guard your heart from retreat. We are tempted to use pain and hurt as an excuse to abandon the plan to which God has called us. It is so much easier to simply give up. I know. There have been times when I have literally and figuratively pulled the covers over my head and told God to just go away. It didn’t work. He loves me too much, and He loves you too much to let you give up. He will, however, give you time to heal – not retreat.
It’s funny. Looking back, what I thought would be the biggest disasters in my life turned out to be the most magnificent victories. The mess in the messenger does not negate the message. God uses messed up people.
There is a scene at the end of the movie Apollo 13 that I love. The head of NASA is talking to the press secretary, listing all of the things that have gone wrong with the spacecraft. The head of NASA concludes by saying, “This could be the greatest disaster in NASA’s history.”
The flight director overhears the conversation, turns to the two men, and says, “I believe this will be NASA’s finest hour.”
You may feel that whatever crisis you are facing could be the greatest disaster in your life. That would be the enemy’s plan. Or it can be the finest hour of your life. That would be God’s plan. It is your choice.
Father, please forgive me for wanting to give up and turn away from You. I am so tired and so hurt. Please give me the strength to go on. Today, I choose Your healing power to work in my life. I will guard my heart against bitterness and anger. I will not retreat. I choose to believe that the pain of today is the foundation of tomorrow’s victory.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
What crisis are you going through today? Can you see how God can use this mess to create a new message in you? What would that message be? Record your thoughts in your journal.
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Originally published Thursday, 13 April 2017.