How do you feel when you come into a crisis, pray for a solution, but a solution doesn’t come so the crisis escalates until it is much worse? Does it seem that God walked away and forgotten to look back?
Sometimes it may feel like that. Recently it’s felt like that for me, bringing new meaning to the old adage, “When it rains, it pours.” But God spoke to me through a bird – or rather, several of them (rather fitting for a birder!).
This is the season of year when bird activity increases. Just this week I’ve watched families of House Sparrows, Robins, and House Finches. One can’t miss them with all the baby chatter, which so obviously screams, “Feed me! Feed me!”
Babies follow their parents around to the point of distraction. Where Mom/Dad fly, Baby flies. Where Mom/Dad hop, Baby hops. It’s a kind of “in-your-face” thing where Baby squawks and wing-flaps frantically to get attention in order to be fed. The parents occasionally poke something into Baby’s beak, but mostly they feed for themselves, teaching Baby by example how to get his own. I even see the parents turning on the youngster and pecking him/her away until Baby gets the idea to look for his/her own food. It may seem downright mean of the parent bird to peck their child away. But if they didn’t, Baby would never learn to find his/her own food.
Scripture tells us that our spiritual life must grow (Ephesians 4:14,15, Hebrews 5:12-14, 1 Peter 2:2…). Only, this growth at first appears to be backwards. While Baby Bird learns to do things on his/her own, God wants us to grow up into a trust in Him that depends solely on God for everything in life.
In a life crisis that means that we learn to lay aside the worry, fear, unbelief, and distrust, and approach the situation with calmness, having confidence that we are still in God’s hands and He has everything under control even when it doesn’t feel like it. I can testify that this isn’t easy! But it’s possible.
James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience (steadfast endurance). But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking nothing.”
Just as a parent bird will push its young away so they can learn to feed on their own, we may be allowed to go through a crisis in order to grow us to the next level of relationship with God, so that we can come closer to spiritual maturity.
How can we go through these kinds of trials intact? Here are a few starter suggestions:
1. Choose to maintain your connection with God. Even if at first your daily worships seem to be all tears and complaints, don’t stop coming to Him! Do include reading the Bible, though. It gives God a chance to speak to you.
2. Choose to arrange your life during the crisis so that staying connected with God is first priority. That means different things for different people. You may spend more time playing hymns on the piano, or singing praise songs on the way to work, or sitting by a river for a few minutes on your way home to commune with God, or taking time to prayer-walk. It can also mean getting more sleep. Whatever it takes, do it.
3. Choose to praise and thank God. That’s tough. But it is a choice. Find things you are truly thankful for – Jesus, for instance, and His sacrifice that made possible a future life for us with no suffering.
4. Choose to lay the situation down at the feet of Jesus – and leave it there. Even if your loved one dies, you go bankrupt, it feels like your purpose in life has been taken away, choose to surrender it to God and be ok with whatever happens.
Easy? Hardly! But if you want to come out of a crisis more mature, these choices are foundational to anything else you do.
What other suggestions do you have for maintaining your trust in God during a crisis?