WHAT WILL THIS CRISIS REVEAL?
By Chuck Tripp
Tripp Christian Counseling
It is interesting that the Chinese word for crisis is a compound word made up of two Chinese characters. The first character means “danger”, which is what we usually associate with our concept of crisis. But the second character means “opportunity”. The Chinese understood that a crisis was like coming to a fork in the road. Where you go from there will be determined by the road you choose.
You could line up ten people who had the same negative thing happen to them. What you will find is that it affects each of them differently. There may be some similarities, but others will have totally different effects. The reason for this is simple. Each person responded in their own unique way. This proves that the power is not in the negative event itself but in how each person chooses to react.
Romans 8:28 says, “God causes all things to work together for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose”. Our God is an amazing God who can bring good even from very bad. The cross is the best example of that truth.
We are currently going through a real crisis as we face a pandemic that threatens to take the lives of millions of people around the world. As I write this, over 90% of Americans are under “stay at home” orders from their governors. Many businesses are shut down, schools are closed, and many people have been laid off. An ever-increasing number of people are getting sick and there is a great deal of fear throughout the world.
Some have referred to this as a plague. Some even see this as a sign of the apocalypse. Although I do not take that view, we can learn something from the Greek word apocalypse which literally means “an unveiling”. It is like unrolling a scroll which then reveals the truth hidden within. As we go through this crisis, how we choose to respond will reveal who we are. It is like testing metal in fire to reveal its strengths and weaknesses. It is also like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. What comes out is toothpaste because under pressure whatever is inside will come out. The same is true of our lives. A crisis brings out the best or the worst in people.
I worked for hospice for 12 years as a chaplain and grief counselor. I spent countless hours with terminally ill patients and their family members. It was very interesting so see the different effects their diagnoses had on those individuals. Some became bitter. Some became better. Some got angry and blamed God. Some took it out on their loved ones. Some lost all hope and went into deep despair.
But others chose to react very differently. Their heart softened and they changed their priorities. All of a sudden, what used to matter so much did not matter much at all. They were able to realize what really mattered. They began to treasure each moment, and each loved one. They drew closer to God and found true peace. I would often ask them, “would you give up the peace of God and the love of family and friends for a million dollars?” They would always answer “no” without any hesitation, and in so doing they realized how truly wealthy they were.
It reminds me of the song “Live Like You Were dying”. It tells the story of a man who got a terminal diagnosis. He said, “I went sky diving. I went Rocky mountain climbing. I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu”. In all my years at hospice I never heard of one of our patients going bull riding. But the next part of the song I did see lived out over and over again. He says. “I spoke sweeter and I loved deeper, and I gave forgiveness I had been denying.”
I have come to understand that life is not a series of chances. Life is a series of choices. How we choose to respond to this crisis will reveal who we really are - not what we pretend to be, not what we want others to think we are, not even who we have fooled ourselves into believing we are. But it will reveal who we really are and who by God’s grace we can become.
In the middle of March, as the seriousness of this pandemic was beginning to become real to many people, I was driving on Hwy 70 from Old Fort to Nebo. My heart was very heavy as I thought about the cloud of craziness that was descending on our world. But on that drive, I passed many signs that simply said, “We Care”. It lifted my spirit as I was reminded that God’s people really do care and that Jesus is Lord.
Many people will respond to this crisis with fear, selfishness or ignorance. Some will hoard things with no thought of who that might hurt. They will try to build a fortress of toilet paper to protect themselves. Their “prayer” would likely be, “God bless me, my wife and our two kids - we four and no more”.
Others will continue to put their head in the sand and refuse to believe what the medical experts are telling us. They will be like the people in days of Noah who said, “the rain is not coming to our town”. So, they will not listen nor heed the warnings and many of them will get sick and will infect others, some of whom will die.
Some will attempt to profit from this crisis financially or politically, attempting to price gouge or to sell fake cures of denying truth and promising false hope.
But the people of God must stay off that dangerous road and choose instead to take the road of opportunity. We can choose to respond to this crisis by asking God to make needed changes in our lives. 2 Chronicles 7:14 makes it plan that if we want our land healed, God’s people are the ones that must “humble themselves and pray, seek (God’s) face, and turn from their wicked ways”.
We can choose to take this crisis as an opportunity to walk closer to God, and to serve Him more than ever before. We can choose to thank God for how blessed we are instead of whining and complaining about what we do not have, realizing that we always have more to thank God for than we have to complain about. We can learn from this crisis what really matters. We can rearrange our priorities. We can let go of our idols and stop worshipping sports heroes, entertainers, or political leaders. We can stop being so materialistic and learn to live with less and share more. We can become more grateful for what we have. We can choose to come together instead of following the voices of those who would divide us. Christians today are known more for what we are against than what we are for. The time to change that is now!
This will be a painful and difficult time. Many will get sick and many will die. Many will lose their jobs and struggle financially. Our nation and our world will grieve. It is unlikely to end quickly. Most will respond in the flesh. But I challenge the people of God to respond in the spirit. Let us listen to the voice of Joshua who challenged God’s people in a different time to “Choose today whom you shall serve. But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord”.
I will end the same way I began, by asking the question:
What will this crisis reveal?