We live in a fallen world and therefore there are times we all face challenges regardless of how spiritually mature we may be.
Jesus warned us that “In this world we will have trials and tribulations but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
This means that as long as we are in this world, we will always face challenges or trials from time to time.
When you’re facing a crisis, remember what Jesus said to His disciples the night before His crucifixion: “Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:1).
Imagine what it would have been like to be one of Jesus’ disciples at the end.
They watched as He was arrested, beaten, and crucified. All of their hopes and dreams were rooted in Him, and then He was dead and seemingly defeated.
The confusion, hurt, and pain from that alone were probably unbearable, but then came the thoughts: “We have made such sacrifices, leaving family and businesses, risking it all on the belief that Jesus was the Messiah. Might it all have been in vain? How long will it take before they come to get us too?”
That was real stress and pressure. There comes a time in our own lives when all seems lost and we go through very stressful periods.
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I believe the disciples were facing a crisis that none of us will ever endure, yet what did Jesus say? “Let not your heart be troubled.”
That statement is the first step in resolving a crisis. When a crisis comes, and it certainly will, do not panic.
Let not your heart be troubled.
The moment you panic you are likely to make the wrong decisions thereby making the situation worse than it is.
I personally believe that people’s first reactions to a crisis will dictate whether or not they overcome.
Most people let their emotions and hurts run their course, giving them time to build huge strongholds of unbelief in their hearts.
Then, after the strongholds have been well established, they turn to God and ask for help.
They don’t realise that it’s much easier to keep the storm of a crisis from getting inside their hearts than it is to remove it later.
The idea is to focus on God, the author and finisher of your faith.
A story is told of a husband and wife in the United States.
The wife found the husband lying unresponsive on the ground.
She called the ambulance, yet refused to panic. She was able to harness her emotions in the face of negative doctors’ reports and stand in faith for her husband’s healing from a massive stroke.
She was so calm that the neurologist accused her of not taking him seriously. This is what happens when you have your mind stayed upon the Lord, because He will give you perfect peace even in the midst of a crisis (Isaiah 26:3). We should always put our trust in the Lord.
“One-third of his brain is permanently damaged,” said the doctors.
“His left side is paralysed. He’ll never swallow or speak again, and he’ll need a stomach tube for the rest of his life.”
Yet just nine days later, the husband walked unaided out of the hospital and returned to his job.
A second MRI still showed “permanent” damage to his brain, but he remains unaffected by the stroke.
He is a walking miracle, and I believe he is alive today because the wife understood that step one of dealing with a crisis is to not panic and “let not your heart be troubled.”
We live in a fallen world and tribulations will come. You cannot avoid them, but if you’re prepared you can keep them from getting on the inside of you.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been divorced, suffered financial disaster, or facing cancer, God can turn your problem around if you believe and not panic.
There is nothing that is too difficult for the Lord. The devil wants you to lose hope and give up.
Never ever give up. It is important to realise that you are an overcomer. Whatsoever is born of God, overcomes the world (1 John 5:4).
You can control your emotions, and you can control your feelings.
You can control whether or not you have depression and whether you are encouraged or discouraged.
Jesus would not have said “let not your heart be troubled” if it were not possible.
He would be unjust to tell you to do something that you couldn’t do.
The fact that He told you to do it means you have both the capacity and the power to do so.
In 1 Samuel 30:6, we read that David made the decision to encourage himself in the Lord while in the middle of a huge crisis, facing severe consequences.
There are times when you have to encourage yourself in the Lord by going back to scripture and see what His Word says about your situation.
The Word of God has power within itself to accomplish what it says.
“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”
David called for the ephod, which is the Old Testament equivalent of the Word of God.
He inquired of God, he built himself up, and he encouraged himself.
If he hadn’t, I believe his men would have killed him. But because he did encourage himself, his vision came to pass within forty-eight hours: He became king.
What the devil had meant for evil, God turned to good.
I have seen people coming for prayer with various issues.
Many believe their problems are unique and often begin by describing just how bad their situations have become.
What many are looking for is empathy and my sympathy, but I won’t go there with them.
It’s not because I don’t have compassion. In fact, I have enough compassion to say to them, “Get over it and believe God.”
I’m telling you, brothers and sisters, you are selling yourselves short. Many of you believe that because you are human, a fearful and paralysing response in a crisis is normal.
The truth is that you are not only human; you’ve got the Holy Spirit of God living on the inside of you, and therefore you can prevent your heart from being troubled.
When you stand up and do what you can do, then God supernaturally energises you.
Peter couldn’t walk on the water by his own human power, but he did get out of the boat under his own power.
The moment he took the first step, the supernatural power of God enabled him to overcome and walk on water.
It’s also important to keep your problems in perspective. We have countries where people have underground churches and are beaten and tortured for their faith and yet they remain committed to their faith.
You and I have freedom of worship but we don’t take advantage of that to deepen our relationship with the Lord.
It is sad that at times we mourn and groan over issues that are not as challenging as those of people living in countries where they are persecuted for being believers.
Let us not give the devil that much credit. He is a defeated foe. He was defeated over two thousand years ago.
This devil goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8).
If you never bump into him in this life, it might be because you’re going in the same direction.
But when you turn around and begin swimming upstream, following God’s plan for your life, you’re going to get some resistance, and you will need to know how to keep your heart from being troubled.
It is very important to note that no matter what you may be going through, God is always there. He never leaves you nor forsakes you. He is a dependable God.
Trust Him and lean not on your understanding. You will always overcome.
Dr Doug Mamvura is a graduate of Charis Bible School. Feedback: [email protected] or Twitter @dougmamvura