A while back I wrote this reflection on facing crises.
I pray that, as you read it, you will find comfort and be affirmed in your faith in a God Who is with and for us always.
To many people life is but a cycle of luck and misfortune. It takes faith to see God’s involvement in the events of our lives. To those who have faith, certain events take on a whole new meaning. Many faithful Christians would tell you that there were times when their theology failed them. Some would even confess occasional disappointment with God.
Facing life’s ‘ups and downs’ is not always easy. Most of us seem to be able to, for example rationalize the concept of our mortality; nonetheless, we’re never truly prepared for the death of a loved one. Any disturbance, be it sudden or expected, could cause us to question the parameters of our faith paradigm. And that’s because doubt often creeps into the equation.
Time and again we doubt the plausibility of the future that we had planned. Some times we fearfully doubt our own ability to bounce back to an equilibrium of sanity. Often, we don’t even know where to place our doubts. Contrary to popular belief, it is rare that we truly doubt God. The opposite seems to be more probable. In uneasy moments, many take the time to revisit their gospel memoirs – memories of past divine intervention – and thus refuel their belief in a God who cares.
This truth brings us to the crux of the matter. Much too often our faith seems to rest on our knowledge of God’s attributes and His ability to solve our problems. What happens if God chooses not to employ a particular attribute, let’s say providing finances for a family in distress? I propose a more purposeful approach to the issue of faith in times of crises. I suggest that we focus our attention on who God is rather than what He can do for us.
God is love (1 John 4:8), and trusting Him means trusting His loving attitude towards us. No matter what the outcome of my appeals for His intervention, I’ll remain reassured that His love will never fail me. I may not understand everything, but that won’t take away the comfort of His love sustaining me. Knowing that He’s been there with me is more uplifting and faith affirming than just believing that He’s been there for me.
The Oxford dictionary primarily defines crisis as “a decisive time”, and then as “a time of acute difficulty or danger”. Whenever found in a predicament it is good to remember that it is a decisive time for you, not necessarily for God. God has nothing to prove and is never involuntarily sucked into trivial demonstrations of God-ness. We, on the other hand, have everything to prove; and a crisis offers us a decisive moment to trust God’s love and better judgment. If we persist to focus on His attributes alone, our faith might be determined by the outcome of our predicament rather than by trusting in God and God alone.
That’s not to say that God is never there for us. Just that this is totally up to Him. This is a comforting truth considering that we often misunderstand His attributes altogether. A while back while my daughter was still very small, a friend was visiting our home when she began to articulate her love for her daddy. The visitor politely remarked, “So, your daddy is a hero.” After a short moment of reflection, the little pearl defended with conviction, “My daddy is not a hero. He is a good person!” How often don’t we think of God as a “good God” while wishing that He could have been great just for once! Disappointed with God? Remember Golgotha! Remember how much He loves you!
Crises do not challenge us only on the issue of our perceptions of God. It goes deeper than that, and further . . . eternally further. What do I mean by that? All major changes in our lives help design the make-up of our belief systems. Thus, all human crises could be perceived as that which determines our fate. Crises alone cannot threaten our ultimate destiny, but sin can. What does faith have to do with this? Apparently, everything, for “everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23).
Theory usually seems to jump the gun on practical matters. When the arrow of unbelief strikes at the heart of our finite existence it sometimes redefines our coping strategies. Faith acquires new facets, some totally inconsistent with the object of our faith. Other times there is a temporary abandonment of trust as illustrated by the Old Testament concept of “broken faith”. Often crises led to unfaithfulness and disloyalty (Exodus 21:8; Deuteronomy 32:51; Joshua 22:16; 1 Samuel 14:33; Malachi 2:10,11,14-16). Historically this also occurred in times of peace and prosperity.
The concept of “brokenness” encompasses the hope of restoration and final redemption. God’s readiness to mend a broken nation has been all too evident in Biblical times. The terminology also alludes to the truth that there are times when we become vulnerable in our spirit and thus exercise fragile faith. How can we ensure that the faith we live by is in agreement with our theology? By consciously applying it in our daily activities.
You may wonder how this works. Simple! When crises wound your soul let God be God. Don’t give up your faith; give in to God and trust in His unconditional love. You’re much too precious for Him to let you down. Learn to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11), and give thanks amid your crises (1Thessalonians 5:18). But above all, “guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.” (Malachi 2:16).