There was a time when I didn’t do know how to search the Bible for answers and comfort. During those times of crisis, I allowed my emotions to control my perspectives and my decisions.
I remember almost ten years ago praying for my Aunt, who entered the hospital. I had been a Christian for three years and the only Christian in my family at that time. I prayed and prayed, and then my aunt was released from the hospital. I rejoiced and thanked God for answering my prayer.
Two days later, my Aunt died. I was devastated. I didn’t know how to make sense of the outcome. I broke down in tears, ready to no longer believe there was a God.
We all have crisis situations in our lives. Whether we are Christians or non-Christians, we face happenings and decisions in our lives that will change our lives forever. The difference is how we manage our crisis situations.
A crisis is a crucial moment or a turning point in our lives. Often a crisis is associated with a loss, a disaster or a decision. In those moments, we will choose to trust God or to walk away from God, to stay in the marriage or to file for divorce, to pursue a dream or to give up on the dream, to live courageously or to die a coward.
When thinking about managing crisis, I thought about the most crucial moment in the history of mankind and how the main character, Jesus Christ, managed that moment. The record of that crisis moment is recorded in Matthew 26:36-56 and has been read for us already.
If I were writing a book on Crisis Management based on the how Jesus Christ handled His crisis, the following is what you would read.
Chapter One: Respect your negative emotions. Verses 36-38
By respect, I mean to give appropriate attention to dealing with emotions such as embarrassment, anger, sadness and fear. Jesus was overwhelmed with sadness in his heart. There were a number of reasons why He would be overwhelmed with sadness.
Jesus was sent by God to restore humanity’s relationship with God. And the people, whom Jesus came to help, planned His execution.
Another reason for Jesus’ great sadness was that Jesus, who was the only one to live a perfect life, would also be the one to carry the sins, shame and guilt of humanity on the cross. His death was not the death of a martyr but the death of a substitute. He died in our place and for our wrongs against God.
Finally, Jesus was troubled with great sadness, because at the moment of death for our sins, his relationship with God, the Father, would be broken. We read in Matthew 27:46, when Jesus was hanging on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
The Chinese has an old saying, "Men shed blood, but not tears." That sounds masculine, but it’s unhealthy. I would suggest that, "If men shed tears more often, they would shed blood less often."
In times of crisis, we need to give appropriate attention to dealing with our negative emotions. For a person who loses his or her job and deals with grief, fear, anger, embarrassment, anxiety or whatever other negative emotion, first, he or she will be better able to secure future employment. Otherwise, negative emotions not dealt with will interfere with his or her concentration, motivation and ability to secure a new job.
Only those who respect their negative emotions can handle their crisis clearly and courageously. When you lose your health or lose a loved one, take time to grieve the loss. When you have to make a major decision, deal with your negative emotions that are associated with the decision first, so you’ll have a clear head. When faced with a crisis, Jesus respected His negative emotion first, and so should we.
Chapter Two: Request alternatives within the will of God. Verses 39-44
The cup Jesus is referring to is the cup of suffering and death on the cross.
Jesus asked God the Father for an alternative that was still within the plan of God. Jesus didn’t just ask once; He asked three times. But His request for alternatives were always secondary, while doing God’s will was always primary.
When you or others you know are in a difficult situation, don’t assume God doesn’t want your situation changed. God does not enjoy seeing us fail or hurt anymore than a loving parent enjoys seeing his children fail or hurt.
I remember thinking about interviewing for a job, but I was unsure if I would get the job. Then a friend told me, "Go and interview. The worse that can happen is they say ’no.’ But don’t say ’no’ for them."
Even if you have terminal cancer, ask for and pursue healing. Don’t say "no" for God. Even if your marriage has been difficult for years, ask for and pursue improvement in your marriage. Don’t say "no" for God. Even if all you can see are lose-lose propositions at work, ask for and pursue win-win propositions. Don’t say "no" for God.
A pastor friend often prays for his congregation this way, "God, please bind up the broken marriage, take away the tears and heal the illness, unless in the broken marriage, in the tears and in the illness, they can see You better and be more useful to You." When faced with a crisis, Jesus asked for alternatives within the will of God, and so should we.
Chapter 3: Respond to who you are. Verse 45
In all four New Testament records of Jesus’ life, this title, the Son of Man, is one of the most common titles Jesus used to address Himself. The Son of Man is a title for God Who would save His people through His own death and then be raised from the dead and return in the future to rule His kingdom.
Jesus took courage from responding to Who He was, because Who He was determined His purpose, values, meaning and future. Because Jesus responded as the Son of Man to suffer death to save others and then to return to rule in the future, Jesus’ current suffering could be endured. Responding to who we are enables us to endure the crisis in our lives.
A lack of sleep was a crisis to me until I responded to who I am. I’m a father of a toddler. I’m not supposed to get 8 hours of sleep nightly.
Maybe not being able to do whatever you want is a crisis for you, until you respond to who you are, a married man with teenagers. Your time is no longer your own. People who experience mid-life crisis are people who do not respond to who they are in different stages of life.
As Christians, we respond as children of God, who will live with God forever beyond the grave. Therefore, what is an unbearable crisis to many people, we can endure.
The Apostle Paul said in Romans 8:18, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory [the wonderful future] that will be revealed in us."
When faced with a crisis, Jesus responded to Who He was, and we should also.
Chapter 4: Recognize limited lifespan. Verses 45b - 46
Jesus was someone who recognized that God has a beginning and end time for everything. Five times John records Jesus saying his time had not yet come, either to be revealed as the Son of Man or to die as the Son of Man. But in this passage, Jesus recognized His time was up.
The Teacher, who wrote Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, reminds us, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, ..., a time to weep and a time to laugh, ..., a time to search and a time to give up, ..., a time to be silent and a time to speak, .... (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)."
Susan and I do our very best to spend time with our parents once a week. We know they won’t live forever. If we expect our parents to live forever, we will not take time to enjoy and honor them currently. And when they die, we will have a bigger crisis on our hands than necessary.
Many times, unnecessary crisis occurs because we don’t recognize everything on this side of heaven has a limited lifespan. Our parent’s health, our body parts, our plumbing, our car and even our favorite chair have limited lifespan.
When faced with a crisis, Jesus recognized limited lifespan, and so should we.
Chapter 5: Relinquish self-protection for the will of God. Verses 47-56
The question was asked, "If Jesus were God and sinless, and if He didn’t allow others to kill him, would He have lived forever as man?"
My answer is, "I’m not sure, but He would have certainly lived longer." He could have called the angels at his disposal to wipe out Judas and the crowd. But if Jesus protected Himself, He would have lived outside of His Father’s plan, and humanity’s sin would not be forgiven.
If our goal in life is only to stay alive, occupy space, keep breathing and experience periodic pleasure, with no consideration for God’s plan for our life, then almost everything that threatens our life, our space, or our periodic pleasure will become a crisis without a purpose.
The one who relinquishes self-protection in order to live out God’s plan for her life has the ability to reduce the number of crises in her life and to allow God to use her profitably.
When faced with a crisis, Jesus relinquished self-protection for the will of God, and so should we.
Paul J. Meyer in his book, Unlocking Your Legacy, tells about the time his Mother was found two days after she had fallen in her home. She died a few days afterwards in the hospital. This was in 1969.
Paul J. Meyer writes, "In the apron she was wearing the day she fell, I found a note that read: ’S.S. HOPE: 7 miles, 7 cents.’ I cried uncontrollably, realizing that she had raised seven cents after walking seven miles for S.S. HOPE, a hospital ship that provided medical care to people in developing nations. Those seven miles might have even been what killed her."
Instead of being bitter at God for what happened to her Mom, Paul J. Meyer became one of greatest Christian philanthropists, giving millions of dollars in the name of Christ to help the needy.
The concept of crisis in Chinese is represented by two words, "danger" and "opportunity." When we manage the crisis of our lives following the example of Jesus Christ, we will are able to turn the dangers and disasters of life into opportunities to fulfill the will of God.