In times of crisis, what do you do? We happen to be living in a moment of great crisis in our community, our country, and around the world. As you most likely know, the coronavirus has led to great worry, panic, and fear. We have flooded our stores trying to get toilet paper (for some reason), medical supplies, and food so that we can make it another day.
In times of crisis like this one, the natural human response is for us to have great concern about our well being and to also worry and panic. Leaders do their very best to keep us calm, and rightfully so, but one cannot help but to become fearful in a time of crisis. Again, I ask, what do you do?
Personally, in times of crisis, I find myself leaning more into my faith in God and in scripture that I keep close to my heart. I commune with the One who dwells in me to grant me a calming peace. What I want to do today, is share some scripture with and show what God can do in times of crisis. I also want to show you what we can do in a crisis as well.
Preserve Me, O God
David says to God, “Preserve me, for I put my trust in You!” What a wonderful statement of faith. You see, it takes great faith to be able to be able to say this. This great faith is made up of knowing who God is, understanding God’s power and authority, and truly trusting in both God’s power and authority – His sovereignty.
Paul asked the question (Rom 8:35), “Who can separate us from the love of Christ?” Can tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword, he asked. His responding answer to that question was a definite no. Paul said (Rom. 8:37), “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
Note that all of those things that Paul mentioned were things that we still face today. Tribulation: the things that we suffer and go through. Distress: the pain and sorrow brought on from our tribulation. Persecution: mistreatment from others. Famine: lacking food. Nakedness: without clothes. Peril: in despair or great danger. Sword: the killing weapon of that day. Paul stated that none of those things could separate the believer from God.
Again, it takes a great deal of faith to be able to make that statement of being conquerors through Christ. It takes knowing who Christ (God) is; understanding His power and authority, and then genuinely trusting in His power and authority. God asks us, why do we worry about our life when He takes care of things like the birds of the air, the lilies of the field as He clothes the grass of the field (John 6:25-30).
Questioning God’s sovereignty in desperate times
If God preserves (cares for, keeps, or protects) those things, certainly He will preserve us (the creation that He breathed the breath of life into) in our most desperate times. Yet, in desperate times, we find that there are still some people who question God’s sovereignty. Best believe that there is someone somewhere, in this exact moment, who is questioning why God allows certain things, like this virus, to ravage our world.
There are times when this question is asked because someone wants to genuinely know. There are other times that this question is asked because people become concerned or worried. Then there are other times when that question is asked because the person asking the question already lacks faith in God. They use such a question and moment to talk down God’s sovereignty. Be wary of those that in desperate times, their first response is to mock the actions of faith in God.
You see, it is in our times of crisis where I believe God looks to see what we are going to do. In our time of desperation, are we going to have faith in His sovereignty? It is also In our time of crisis, that I believe God looks to see if we are going to be willing enough to put aside hatred and work together to overcome the crisis.
Elijah’s time of crisis
I want to take a moment today to look at a time of crisis that is recorded in scripture. There are certainly several moments of crisis recorded in scripture, but this is the one that immediately popped in my head this week. I hope you do not mind taking another look at the prophet Elijah; I know I preached about him not that long ago.
During Elijah’s day, God sent a great drought to the land of Israel for three and a half years (1 Kings 17:1; Luke 4:25). The reason for the drought being that the Israelites were being incredibly disobedient to God. I don’t want anybody to think that I am saying that the coronavirus is running rampant because of our disobedience against God – I am not saying that!
(Times of crisis are not something that is brand new! There are many people living today who can tell you about times of crisis that they have made it through in the past. For example: the Jim Crow south and the Civil Rights Movement.)
Back to Elijah and his crisis. Because the land would not receive any dew or rain, the inhabitants of the land would suffer a great drought. When there is a drought, that means that few crops would grow and if there were few crops growing, that means that animals would be unable to eat and would die off.
As you can see, the drought of that day was certainly a time of crisis for the children of Israel. This drought caused a great famine and would have certainly hurt the ancient Israelites economy. In this time of crisis, I want to take a look at what God did for His servant, Elijah. I want you to see what was required for Elijah to make it through this time of crisis.
Faith in God required
The first thing God told Elijah to do after announcing the drought to Ahab was to hide by the Brook Cherith (1 Kings 17:2-3). At the brook, God would provide for Elijah a source of water to drink from and then God would send ravens that would help provide food for Elijah (1 Kings 17:4). We are told that Elijah did not hesitate or disobey God’s command but obeyed God’s command. Because of his obedience, we see that God provided for him (1 Kings 17:5-6).
I imagine that things started off well for Elijah at the brook but because there was no rain in the land, eventually the brook dried up. So, what does Elijah do now? Does he worry? Does he panic? Scripture does not tell us whether or not he did those things. (I don’t believe he did.) We are, however, told that God had a new command for him.
Scripture tells us that God tells Elijah to go and dwell in Zarephath with a widow who would then provide for him (1 Kings 17:8-9). To me, this command I find to be very interesting. Why would God send Elijah to a widow? I have to wonder whether or not Elijah questioned what God was doing because… well, I guess I can’t help myself. We often question what work God is doing in our lives when things are more peculiar than normal.
Elijah and the widow
For those of us familiar with the story of Elijah and the widow, we would say that God sent him there for the purpose of eventually reviving the widow’s son from death (1 Kings 17:17-24). I can certainly understand that reasoning, but I tell you that there was more going on here than just that! I should note that it is not recorded in scripture that Elijah questioned God’s new command for him; he simply got up and went to Zarephath (1 Kings 17:10).
When he arrives, Elijah saw the widow as she was gathering sticks. He asks for her to bring a little water in a cup and we see that she had a little water to spare. We see this because once she starts to go get the water, Elijah asks for her to bring him a morsel of bread (1 Kings 17:11). I will get to her response about the bread in a moment but, without realizing it, this interaction with the woman so far tells us something about her.
Helping each other in time of crisis
She seems to be a good person because she was willing to spare a little water with a stranger in a time of crisis. Jesus spoke very highly of those who would be willing to share food and drink during the time of Great Tribulation. He said (Matt. 25:34), “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in.”
We do not live in the time of Great Tribulation but there certainly are times of tribulation that we face in our world. These times of crisis calls for us to certainly have faith in God, but they also call for us to be there for each other! Being there for each other and being loving and sympathetic for one another is a testament to our faith in God through our actions!
About that morsel of bread: At first, the widow was hesitant to give Elijah any bread because she felt she only had enough ingredients to make bread for her and her son (1 Kings 17:12). This widow, I believe, was a woman who had some faith but she had become consumed with her panic and worry over the famine. Her panic and worry had turned into fear and it is never good to be consumed with fear! She was ready to die but Elijah tells her (1 Kings 17:13), “Do not fear!”
Elijah encourages her by saying to her, “Do not fear!” He pushes her to continue moving in faith and not with fear (1 Kings 17:13-14). (She had already started moving in some faith to go get the water.) He tells her that if she makes him a small cake that the bin of flour would not be used up nor will the jar of oil run dry until the drought ends. You see, God was going to make a way for them, but we find that her and Elijah would end up being a great help to each other! In times of crisis, it is not good to try and take it on by yourself, but to have someone there to help as well!
Faith in time of crisis
Imagine that: two strangers working together to help each other to make it through a crisis. We like to talk about how smart we are and how capable we are, but as soon as things get too difficult, then we want to deride God’s power and authority. We never hold ourselves accountable for what we can do to help each other in a time of crisis.
Yes, we should certain keep our faith. As God brought Elijah through in his time of crisis, He will do the same for us as well. God will preserve us and is going to bring us through this crisis and the next crisis that we face as well. However, our faith in God also requires action and often times that action is an action of caring for someone other than yourself.
You have seen me say this before, but I will repeat what I have said again. We are not in our own world, but in a world that is filled with other folks just like us. In times of stress, God has given us each other so that we can lift each other up through a crisis instead of fight over toilet paper in a Target.
I quote Paul in saying that we are certainly more than conquerors through Christ! Do not put your faith in God on hold just because of this crisis. It is your faith that will give you that calm and peace of mind to continue to carrying onward.