“I just can’t wait for the next crisis!”
That’s just what I need in my life now, another crisis. No, just let me go with the flow, don’t rock the boat, easy peasy.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose. Life has a mind of its own.
You and I may yearn for the easy, crisis-free life, but based on my personal experience and my counseling of others we’re wrong. Here’s why…
Crisis help you focus
That’s important and hard because there’s so much competing for your attention. The cat, the dog, the husband, wife and kids, the job, the television, your friends, etc.
Suddenly everything is off the table and there, at the center, is this one thing.
This happened to Moses. We sometimes forget the obstacles heroes overcame to reach their potential. This shepherd got married, settled into obscurity and then, one day a bush burned, an angel appeared.
All of the crises were ahead of him – persecution, a stubborn Pharaoh and the Red Sea. But that day his focus was forever changed.
Focus is good and there’s nothing like a crisis to narrow our vision to the things that matter.
Crisis digs deep
T.S. Eliot immortalized the Hollow Men… He yearned for a depth to life greater than suffering.
“We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar.”
Beneath the surface of life are what Eliot called, the “permanent things.” Crisis reveals those. Things like God, family, integrity and eternity. These are permanent and everything else will vanish.
Crisis forces dependency
Enough with the “DIY” mentality! It’s engrained in our culture and, in itself, is not a bad thing; unless leads us to believe we can go it alone and that we need no one outside of ourselves.
Crisis reminds us that we can’t DYI. It forces dependency on others. These may be professionals or friends we have forced out of our lives. They may be pieces of a broken family or strangers reaching out to us.
It’s all good.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that “in (God) we live and move and have our being. “He said this to a group of intellectuals who were too smart for their own good, but just to be safe, had erected an altar “To an Unknown God.”
Crisis is often a reality check that reaches us in the dark places of life where we need God and others to find our way.
Crisis creates balance
I’ve told this story in Lifedeck but here’s the nutshell version: Tom’s and Margie’s lives changed one night when Tom had a massive heart attack. He nearly died and only survived due to a cutting-edge heart pump that kept him going.
It would be four years before he would receive a heart transplant. Those years forced them to renew relationships, draw closer to God, manage finances and just heal. The four corners of life – the relational, the spiritual, the financial and the physical – all became important.
We sometimes ignore what isn’t necessary. Crisis demands our attention to all of life and creates a balance of necessity.
Crisis builds character
If you’re a praying person, try this: Don’t pray for an easy life, pray to be a strong person.
That prayer is attributed to Phillips Brooks (best known for his carol, “Little Town of Bethlehem”). Fired from his first job and never married, Brooks struggled with loneliness and a sense of failure.
“I wish I were fifteen years old again,” he pined, “I believe I might become a stunning man: but somehow or other I do not seem in the way to come to much now.”
In fact his life was stunning. He went from failure to fame – honored by Harvard, Columbia and Oxford universities; author of a Yale curriculum on preaching; statued at sites throughout the nation and the world; at his funeral it was observed, “They buried him like a king.”
Crisis shaped him as it can shape you. It can strengthen you for future crises and give you the tools to help others. It can make you do things you might not ordinarily do. It can push you to another level.
Or it can scare you into a hole.
It’s your choice.