A young man comes into church. He seems like a normal high school boy. He comes to youth group more out of a quest for his girlfriend’s approval than for any sort of spiritual nourishment. In the midst of family turmoil and a search for something bigger than himself, he comes to ask Christ to come into his life. His girlfriend breaks up with him, and he is devastated. Somehow, this spurs him on to grow deeper in his faith.
A middle-aged man watches his father die. He begins to become interested in a woman that is part of a cult, and the cult swindles thousands of dollars. His son begins to have discipline problems. Somehow, in the midst of his misery he decides to turn to Jesus. And the very circumstances that you might think would cause him to turn away from God and even question God’s very existence are the circumstances that drive him right into a deeper, more committed, more authentic faith.
It is so strange. Ideally, you would hope that our personal growth would most easily come out of gratitude and blessing. It would be easily to logically conclude that people grow when we are in the ideal circumstances and environment. Sometimes I wish it were so. However, for many of us the opposite is true. It is those moments of failure, of crisis, and of trial that God seems to make himself most clear to us. As the Message translates one of the beatitudes into modern idiom, “Your blessed when you are at the end of your rope, because THEN (my emphasis) there is more of God and his rule.”
Crisis is an odd catalyst, isn’t it? It can be a tipping point to personal and community transformation, or it can be a tragedy that you get stuck in and really recover from.
Why is this? I think it is because moments of crisis put us at a crossroads in our life. We can give up or press on. We can ask “Why me?” or we can ask “What do I do now, Lord?” The difficult and painful moments of life puts us in a position where we can move closer to God or away from God. In those moments of crisis, it our responses and our attitudes that determine whether our tragedies, frustration, and heartache are somehow redeemed by God’s grace and love into blessings and triumph.