“Ask a strong, stable family where they got such strength, and you may very well hear a story of crisis.” (Philip Yancey, “June 11,” GRACE NOTES, Zondervan, 2009)
Blizzards, hurricanes, World War II stories, famines, Depression era stories, droughts, terminal illnesses, 9-11, tsunamis, public scandals, divorce stories, and business failures have stretched across human history, to name a few. Philip Yancey states, “I detect a trend that seems almost universal in the reminiscences of older people: they recall difficult, tumultuous times with a touch of nostalgia.”
Why would there be a paradoxical affection for demanding or punishing times in our lives, if we happen to survive? Could it be that our Creator used and continues to use the crises to bring about the beauty of His greater purposes?
I Peter 1:6-7 says, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
In my own story, the first beautiful crisis was learning to live under the authority of my parents. Don’t get me wrong. My parents were, and still are, great parents. But, I didn’t want anybody telling me what to do, especially when I was young and unwise. The next beautiful crisis was in being married and raising children. Don’t get me wrong. I am blessed with a wonderful husband and three great children and their families. But, there were no short-cuts. Tim Keller was right when he said marriage and family were created to sanctify us. My own expectations and time table were/are at constant odds with those of others. My own comfort was/is constantly at risk. My own convenience was/is shattered. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. If anything, I am admitting my obsession with myself – with self-preservation and self-centered achievement.
I admit, I was born with the silver spoon in my mouth and continue to enjoy major elements of the “cushy” life… But, I’d have zero substance in my life without the crises through which God has worked beauty. I praise God for these things! Because they forced me to grow up. To persevere. To understand what love really looks like. To be grateful that God loves me enough to hammer me into His image. To be ready for each subsequent crisis. To have genuine faith, proven by His grace.
My beautiful crises have confirmed that God really only wants me to respond correctly (His version) when everything around me is incorrect, to love more purely when everyone around me seems undeserving or unappreciative, and to detect and hate sin more emphatically so that I repent more often.
Beautiful crises, mine, unique and not so unique. I know the slicing and dicing of disappointments in the workplace. I know the sadness of broken and “unrepaired” relationships. I know the heartache of unmet expectations and the loss of friends to disease or death. By God’s grace, I have not experienced the dangers of war, the financial losses of the Depression, or the poverty and starvation that exists in some areas of the world. Yet, I have grieved over various family members and one who died this year from an overdose. I have seen the great damage to my house caused by Category-1 Hurricane Isabel. I’d hate to think what a 2, 3, 4, or 5 would have done. I spent a career building something that I thought would last, but hasn’t. I’ve not been exempt from life’s curve balls…
And, I’m older now. Wiser. If anything, I am nostalgic about God’s grace in and through the storms of my life. There is beauty in crisis. It’s how God showed me to depend on Him and stop trying to control the uncontrollable. It’s how God shows His mercy in providing His real presence and comforting guidance when all seems otherwise lost. It’s how God gives relentless joy to His children in the face of life’s atrocities and death-producing clutches. Faith gets proven genuine when I can honestly say, “I trust You, Lord.”
James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” There is beauty in crisis.
I trust You, Lord.