We live today in what might be called a time of “layered crises,” one on top of the other our lives are stressed by trials and threats, big and small, national and personal, so the question becomes, how should we then live/
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #45 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
Life happens, and since we live in a fallen world tainted by the curse of sin and the sin of our own hearts, this means crises happen – trials, emergencies, tragedies, suffering – both national and personal.
It could be called a time of “layered crises,” one on top of the other. While the 20th Century saw world wars and the Great Depression, the 21St Century has brought us: 9-11, Katrina, a global pandemic, an increase in refugees and immigration that’s produced humanitarian challenges in countries throughout the Middle East and the West.
In large part due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we now have something called “food insecurity,” an inability to get sufficient quantities of grain that in turn yields hunger and possibly starvation, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. Human trafficking and slavery. Wars in Yemen and Syria, raging inflation, “Acts of God” as the insurance industry calls them, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, more, violence, ad infinitum.
On a personal level, we face sudden illness or difficult prognoses re diseases like cancer, accidents and tragedies including loss of loved ones, job loss, financial duress, divorce and broken families, loss of hope, fear, paralyzing depression, and what’s now being called a “public mental health crisis,” especially among youth.
Meanwhile, the Scripture is replete with verses providing us with the promise of protection, stability, and hope:
“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” Phil. 4:4-7
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Rom. 8:28
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 8: 37-39
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way.” Psalm 45:8
A crisis is an emergency that is “unexpected, disruptive, a single event or multiple occurrences, and could lead to either positive or negative results.” It can be attributed to humans or nature, and it is an external uncontrolled force, unpredictable.
So, during our lives we will live through national/international crises that may or may not affect us directly, and we most certainly will live through our own personal trials or crises. If you haven’t yet experienced a crisis in your life, you just haven’t yet lived long enough.
God is aware of our trials and sufferings. God is there to help us, even to walking through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23).
I remember a time when I faced the most serious crisis that had yet come my way.
For some reason, my wife was gone over a weekend during which I wrestled with this, and I remember being so stressed that my stomach hurt, and I literally bent double under the strain.
At that point, I began reading the book of Psalms. I confess that up to that point in my life I had wondered about the shepherd king David, author of the Psalms, like “What’s wrong with this guy? He always seems to be whining, sort of crying out to the Lord, not able to deal with his problems.”
Well, now that I had hit the wall, I understood. For the first time in my life, I felt like David. I could not handle my own problems, and I knew it.
So back to the Psalms. I read, and I read, and I read some more. Ultimately, I read the entire book through three times in about a month. I found phrases repeated over and over, like God’s “unfailing love.” I later learned that in the NIV, the phrase God’s “unfailing love” is cited 32 times in Psalms.This phrase said to me that God knew exactly what I was experiencing, and guess what, I was still amid his “unfailing love.”
Another repetitive phrase in the Psalms was various versions of “God’s strong right arm” or “God’s right hand.” This conveyed to me God’s ability to deal with my problems and, frankly, to deal with me.
Finally, I found various expressions of the phrase, “Let your face shine upon me.”
David wanted God’s favor, and he asked God to give this to him in the wonderfully poetic words of “make your face to shine upon me.”
What I learned facing that crisis is this,
- God was entirely aware of my concerns,
- The Lord was still there and capable of administering the crisis according to his will and my good,
- And that I could not work through the problem in my own strength.
I learned to pray, “Lord I can’t handle this. I give it all to you and trust you to work through me as you wish.” I learned this is a wonderful prayer of release. It is personally liberating and professionally energizing. I was still responsible to work as unto the Lord, but the results, the outcome belonged to him.
I have prayed this prayer a few times since, and I recommend it to you. It is not weakness, no more than David was “weak.” It is realistic, wise, and healing.
Today, as America experiences daily crises, brought to us 24/7 on media and social media, older adults are saying they don’t recognize their own country, and many are turning to alcohol and opioids. Meanwhile, young people are suffering from rash anxiety and a skyrocketing mental health crisis.
Sadly, most of the adults and nearly all the youth do not know the Word of God, do not understand theology, do not comprehend God’s promises or his sovereignty, so they have nothing to fall back on. They have no failsafe, no backstop, no lifeline. Thus, their circumstances, life itself, overwhelms them and we get addictions, suicides, emotional PTSD.
How should Christians, then, speak into this cultural moment? How can we be a witness to peace and hope?
Several things we can do:
- We can demonstrate that how we respond to crises is a choice.
- By how we live our lives, trusting God, we can demonstrate that circumstances do notdetermine our character or our faith, even if they often reveal them.
- We can illustrate that one’s response to any crisis is an opportunity.
- Via the capital C Church, the Body of Christ, we can show a caring God.
Crises are challenging, perhaps threatening, but God can use them to bring people together.
What then should we do amid crises?
- Pray, seek God’s face.
- Read the Psalms.
- Choose Resilience, Optimism.
- Remember, every crisis ends – “This too shall pass.”
- Trust the Sovereign God.
Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com.
And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2022
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