Crisis and Renewal

When our church went through our series on Renewal, one of the principles we spent time on was:

Our reaction to crisis will determine whether we find Renewal.

Often, genuine spiritual renewal is the result of some kind of crisis. Sometimes is it large-scale cultural upheaval, sometimes it is a radical change of regional circumstances, and sometimes it results from an individual crisis and a person who is driven into the presence of God with unrelenting passion.

On a normal day we say these kinds of things and think something like, “surely we can find renewal without crisis!” After all, who wants crisis?

Then, because of circumstances beyond our control, we find ourselves in the middle of one. To use an image floating around about the possible extent of the Coronavirus pandemic: is this a blizzard, a winter, or a new ice age? In other words, for how long should we be prepared to deal with the fall-out of the virus? The answers to that question are certainly reliant upon several factors – medical treatments, local and international politics, economic fallouts, and so forth. All of which are beyond our immediate control.

These kinds of considerations can be overwhelming, even crushing. But we have the examples of those who have gone before us, endured crisis, taken appropriate steps toward God, and found His powerful presence on the other side. Crisis can blind us to God’s presence, but it shouldn’t. Crisis can lead us further into the presence and power of God, teaching us things we have not known and make us part of God’s plan to saturate creation with His presence.

Crisis in the world around us means there needs to be a group of people who step up to the plate and show the way out.

Take Psalm 37, for example.

In verses 1-2 and 12-15, David talks about the kinds of people he is dealing with, and it isn’t good. He is surrounded by evil and evildoers (there are still plenty of those during a pandemic, in fact, the pandemic has revealed plenty of them!). But his vision of what is possible is not consumed with evil and the consequences of evil. David is able to turn his attention at every turn to who God is and what God is able to do even in the face of the seemingly overwhelming actions of evil.

If you look at verses 3-9, they act like a kind of “to-do” list for the believer caught in crisis. There is a process for the believer, and it looks like this:

Trust in the Lord, Delight yourself in the Lord, Commit your way to the Lord, Be still before the Lord, Refrain from anger.

Our reaction to any crisis will be the difference between depression and anger, or renewal. When circumstances offer us an opportunity to see God more clearly, we need to take it. Our response can be one of pushing ourselves deeper into the presence and will of God, learning to hear His voice and follow His will in new ways.

Crisis in the world around us means there needs to be a group of people who step up to the plate and show the way out. Renewal is the way out. More of God is the way out. Souls finding God for the first time is the way out. The people of God finding God again is the way out.

The opportunity to find God in powerful ways lays at our feet. Who will kneel and find it?

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