What we have experienced over the last few weeks has been nothing short of a crisis. My wife quotes the phrase "Never let a good crisis go to waste" because it was often spoken by a leader that she highly regarded at her former place of employment. I found that this quote is most attributed to Rahm Emanuel:
"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before." -Rahm Emanuel
Could This Crisis Be Discipline?
On my normal drive into work I usually listen to old Francis Chan sermons. In the last few weeks, my commute has decreased from about 15 minutes to about 15 seconds as I walk to our spare bedroom, so I haven't been listening. But one sermon in particular has been on my mind. Francis was talking about how a lot of people don't want to believe that our God is a God who deliberately allows adversity in order to discipline his people. He scoffed at this pervasive attitude because the Old Testament is full of examples of God doing this very thing. Francis admitted to not knowing God's exact purpose in every crisis, of course, but at the very least he was submitting himself to the possibility that it could be discipline, and more than that, he assumed it in many cases in his own life. He said that its his practice that when something bad or unwanted happens, his first move is to take an inventory of his life. He searches himself for sin. Hidden, deliberate, unknown. Anything. All of it. Being a Father himself, albeit in a different world than when the Bible was written, he can accept and relate the New Testament command:
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? Hebrews 12:7
This verse isn't necessarily telling us that any particular event is definitely discipline, but it is putting hardship in a positive light - showing that a father who loves is a father who disciplines. And we are to look at the world, and particularly the difficult times in our lives, as opportunities for training and further maturity.
Crisis Shakes Us To The Core
Today's upheavals to our "normal" may be something God is using to shake us out of our current patterns. The Message translation captures it powerfully:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule." Matthew 5:3
In times like these, I ask myself questions I don't normally ask. Questions like "Am I making a meaningful difference?" and "What good do I have to show from my life?" And, like Francis Chan, "what am I doing that God doesn't approve of?"
What is God trying to tell you in the middle of this crisis?
What have you been making a priority instead of God?
What does He want you to change?
In crisis, we find the strength from Him to do things we could not do before, to change things we thought were unchangeable, and to grow in ways we thought were only possible in the past. Crises are valuable for growth because they provide opportunity for change.
My hope and prayer for you and I is that through this crisis we reset our hearts to what is important, to loving our neighbors as ourselves, to what is eternal, to Him who gives everlasting life. My prayer is that we reset our priorities according to His will.