Sometimes it seems that no matter what direction we look, we find ourselves confronted by a crisis situation! In times like these, it is encouraging to remember that God's people have often faced crisis situations before. The Bible records many crisis situations faced by God's people in the past.
Best of all, it traces the remarkable things God did for His people in days of crisis.
It also tells us that these situations were placed on record for a purpose, and “everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
The sacred Scriptures bear eloquent testimony to the fact that God never leaves His people in the lurch in times of crisis!
before the Red Sea
In Exodus 14, we find God's people confronted by a king-sized crisis. They have just been miraculously delivered after generations in slavery. Now, on their journey toward the land God has promised to give them as their inheritance, they find themselves blocked by the Red Sea. While they are pondering how they are going to pass through it, they hear behind them a great commotion.
Turning around, they discover to their dismay the hordes of the Egyptian army are sweeping down on them.
Their destruction is imminent. They cannot go forward; the Red Sea stretches before them. They cannot turn back; the Egyptian army is rapidly advancing toward them. There is no deliverance to the right or to the left. Their only hope of deliverance is from above.
At the moment of their extremity, Moses addresses them with the heroic words, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13, 14).
These are words for days of crisis.
People's extremity is God's opportunity.
Crisis gives God His opportunity to act! God's power is never more gloriously revealed than in the context of crisis.
when Goliath defied God
Another crisis situation from which we can gather strength is recorded in 1 Samuel 17. This time, it is not the Egyptians but the Philistines who are threatening God's people. The enemy's champion is a 2.7-metre giant! Day by day, he parades before the army of Israel, challenging them to send someone to fight him and defying the God of Israel. “When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear” (1 Samuel 17:24).
Now, God does not always use spectacular methods to meet a crisis. He did not send out another Goliath, who was bigger and stronger, to meet Goliath. Instead, God chose a lad from the farm. David went out to confront the giant with his shepherd's sling and five small pebbles selected from a brook and, with such a simple arsenal, gained the victory.
Like the army of Israel, when we come to the end of our human resources, God remains. There are Goliaths abroad in the world today who are defying the God of heaven! They would do well to remember that the God of David is still God today, and He has ways and means of accomplishing His purpose, through the most unspectacular means and also in surprisingly unexpected ways.
the unseen forces of God
Another crisis is recorded in 2 Kings 6. This time the Syrians are threatening God's people. The Bible says that “when the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh, my lord, what shall we do?' the servant asked” (2 Kings 6:15).
Elisha's answer to his troubled servant makes good reading for days of crisis: “‘Don't be afraid,' the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.' Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all round Elisha” (2 Kings 6:16, 17).
It is so easy for us to forget this. It is so easy for us to focus our attention on the forces of evil that seem poised to sweep everything before them and eradicate the very name of God from the face of the earth. We think with dismay of the one-third of the angels of heaven that followed Satan in his rebellion against God and are bent on our destruction (see Revelation 12:4, 7-9), and forget the two-thirds of the angels who remained loyal to God. And that means the forces of evil are outnumbered by two to one! Let us never forget it. We often hear it said that the devil is working overtime.
And he certainly is. But let us not forget that the forces on God's side are working overtime, too. While the forces of evil are dedicated to our destruction, remember the forces of right are dedicated to our salvation. And there are twice as many of them as there are of the enemy.
Christ in the furnace
Let us next consider the crisis situation faced by three men of God living as captives in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, one of the greatest superpowers of history, erected an enormous image on the plain of Dura and commanded all his subjects to assemble before it in worship. Three of the king's subjects refused to obey his command.
They were not prepared to worship any man; their allegiance was to God alone.
In great rage, the king ordered the three young rebels be thrown into a furnace and his contemptuous retort was, “What god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” (Daniel 3:15).
The central characters in this story, however, are neither Nebuchadnezzar nor the three non-conformists, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The central character in the story is brought into focus by the flames: “Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?' They replied, ‘Certainly, O king.' He said, ‘Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods'” (Daniel 3:24, 25).
The Christ of the crisis had arrived, with His servants, in the flames! And He is with His servants in the flames today. He will be with His servants in the flames tomorrow. He remains with His servants in the flames to the end of time.
the storm on Galilee
Jesus and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in a little boat when a terrifying storm descended on them. “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don't you care if we drown?' He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!' Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid?
Do you still have no faith?' They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!'” (Mark 4:37-41).
There are times in all of our lives when we feel our hearts crying out within us, “Don't you care if we drown? Lord, why don't You do something?
Are You just going to stand there with Your arms folded and watch us go under?”
We have all experienced this at times, in both personal and corporate crises.
This story was recorded in the Bible so you and I might know that in the storms of life there is One who is greater than the storm. The wind and the waves still obey Him. And when He arises and commands, “Quiet! Be Still!”
the winds still cease and there is complete calm.
To us who live in days of crisis, Jesus says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).
Be of good courage. Christ is still the Christ of the crisis. And the Christ of the crisis is with you.