By Deborah J. Thompson
What is the first reaction that most of us have in a crisis? That first emotion when we hear bad news?
If we are honest with ourselves, it is probably fear. Even those of us who calmly take control, call for the bandages, carefully follow the emergency procedures that we may have learned, and logically work to solve the problem still experience that initial "punched in the gut" feeling before our common sense and training take over.
And what if the crisis is a very personal one—illness, death, loss of a job, etc.? After the initial phase of fear and denial, what do you do then? How do you feel? What are your coping mechanisms?
I will honestly admit that for most of my life, fear has been the ruling emotion in a crisis. Sure, I "trusted" God, but where was he when my world was crumbling? I couldn't wait around for him to "show up" and clean up the mess. I needed answers NOW! And God wasn't speaking up when I was falling apart.
I have recently come to understand that my "trust" wasn't really genuine--that my "faith" only applied when things were going my way. And when that faith and trust were tested by the trials and tribulations of life, I wasn't turning to God for my strength and my salvation. I was relying on myself to "do" something--to fix things.
And even when I was so bruised and battered that I didn't have anywhere else to go and I finally turned to God in desperation, I really didn't completely trust and relax in God's care. I couldn't find peace in the midst of my panic. So even though I asked for God's help, I didn't get out of his way and let him work.
By continuing to worry, I wasn't demonstrating my confidence in him. I would "Let Go and Let God" momentarily, only to take my problem back again by continuing to stress over it. So basically, I was asking God to help and then telling him that I didn't really believe that he would!
Does any of this sound familiar?
The fundamental issues at the core of my worry were these:
1.I didn't trust God.
2.I didn't think he would use his power to save me.
3.I didn't think I was worthy and didn't understand the meaning of "Grace."
4.I was impatient and wanted God to answer my prayers my way.
...which led me back to #1--I didn't trust God, or his plan for my life.
1. Trust God
Really trusting God is the foundation of faith. Without complete trust and surrender of control, we will never experience the full power and blessings of our amazing God. So how do we know that we can truly Trust God? Well, scripture is full of verses and examples that should convince us.
• "…If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God." ~Isaiah 50:10
• "They cried out to God during the battle, and he answered their prayer because they trusted him." ~ 1 Chronicles 5:20
• "O my people, trust in him at all times; Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. ~ Psalm 62:8
• "Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me." ~ John 14:1
• "…Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God." ~ Daniel 6:23
• "Let us hold firmly to the hope that we have confessed, because we can trust God to do what he promised." ~ Hebrews 10:23
And these are just a few of the places where you can find evidence that God is trustworthy. Time and time again, God shows up to save his people. Read about David, Daniel, Job, Moses, Noah, etc., etc. Look back on your own life and the lives of those around you. God keeps his promises and he promises us that he will be there for us. But we have to do our part. We have to TRUST.
2. God Uses His Power to Help Us
Our God is all-powerful. Nothing is beyond his capability. He can part the Red Sea, move mountains and destroy our enemies. He is OUR FATHER, and Fathers have a natural inclination to show up and fight our battles for us.
"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." ~ Exodus 14:14
But again, we have to do our part. And one of the ways that we demonstrate our TRUST is by getting out of God's way—by being "still" and letting him work on our behalf. When we try to control the end result, we sabotage God's plan and we interfere with his approach to arrive at our best outcome.
Have you ever found yourself trying in vain to solve a problem? And even with all your efforts, it seemed that the odds were stacked against you? But when you finally stopped fighting, things seemed to just work themselves out—and the solution turned out to be better than what you were working toward? Well, you were finally "still" and allowed God's power to flow through toward HIS solution.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~ Jeremiah 29:11
In the midst of our troubles we often forget that God wants to help us! Like a parent, he uses the experiences in our lives to teach and to guide us. And when we trust him, trust his plan, and trust his power; miraculous things happen!
3. What is Grace and Who Deserves It?
Grace is "the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God." And Mercy is its forgiving counterpart. God forgives us and withholds punishment from us, while at the same time, blessing us and bringing good to us—even though we don't deserve either His Mercy or His Grace.
"Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath." ~ Psalm 78:38
So the truth is that I am NOT worthy of God's Grace or his help. None of us are. But it is God's desire and God's nature to freely offer his forgiveness, his mercy and his grace to us. Grace is pure; Grace is God's alone to give. And it is a gift, not something we can earn.
"And if they are chosen by grace, it is no longer a matter of working for it. If it were, grace wouldn't be grace anymore." ~ Romans 11:6
When we recognize the very nature of Grace itself, we are finally humbled to realize that we are dependent upon God. And it is only when we surrender to him, and stop relying on ourselves that we open ourselves up to fully receive this amazing gift.
"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." ~ 1 Peter 5:5 and James 4:6
Therefore, part of learning to completely trust God and rely on him is to come to understand the concept of Grace and to recognize all the times when God has bestowed his Grace upon us. We must remain humble, appreciative, and fully surrender to God's will for our lives. When we do, we can be assured that God will be there for us in all our times of trouble. He did not promise us a life without problems or strife. But he did promise us that he would help us whenever we needed him.
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." ~ Hebrews 4:16
4. I Need Help and Answers and I Need Them NOW!
When in the throes of a crisis, we are desperately seeking solutions, answers, guidance and deliverance. And we are impatient; we want to see our way out as fast as possible. And therein lies the fundamental problem: we say that we trust God, but by desiring a specific and rapid resolution, we are denying God an opportunity to work, to implement his plan rather than ours.
And this reveals the basic dilemma in Crisis Management 101—until we completely, fully and totally TRUST God, we will never achieve the peace that comes from knowing that "All is Well."
When we are impatient, fearful, controlling, demanding, insecure and stressed, we reveal that we are not confident that God is on the throne and that he has a better plan for us than we can design ourselves. We deny ourselves his ultimate blessings as we seek to settle for much less than he desires for us. And we spend our days in panic, turmoil, and pain rather than in peace.
So the next time life throws you a curve and you feel that "kicked in the stomach" fear creep in, just remind yourself to TRUST God. Talk to him all throughout each day; he will not forsake you. And he just may be trying to bless you, if only you truly believed.
"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." ~ James 1:2-4
Deborah J. Thompson is a writer, artist and Stephen Minister. Her articles are published by Crosswalk.com and "The Fish" family of Christian radio station websites around the country. She shares "Reflections" on Life and Marriage on her website, www.inspiredreflections.info. And she is working on her first book, Your Life, Your Choice, which gives 5 simple steps to harness the power of your choices and bring more Love, Joy and Peace into your life. Join her on Facebook and Twitter/InspireReflect.