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When you face a crisis, seek counsel from someone who has faced a similar challenge. Ask friends to pray.



for resources. Reach out to a support group. Most importantly, make a plan.


Management guru Jim Collins has some good words here. He and Morten T. Hansen studied leadership in turbulent times. They looked at more than twenty thousand companies, sifting through data in search of an answer to this question: “Why in uncertain times do some companies thrive while others do not?” They concluded, “[Successful leaders] are not more creative. They’re not more visionary. They’re not more charismatic. They’re not more ambitious. They’re not more blessed by luck. They’re not more risk-seeking. They’re not more heroic. And they’re not more prone to making big, bold moves.” Then what sets them apart? “They all led their teams with a surprising method of self-control in an out-of-control world.”


In the end, it’s not the flashy and flamboyant who survive.

It is those with steady hands and sober minds. People like Roald Amundsen. In 1911, he headed up the Norwegian team in a race to the South Pole. Robert Scott directed a team from England. The two expeditions faced identical challenges and terrain. They endured the same freezing temperatures and unforgiving environment. They had equal access to the technology and equipment of their day. Yet Amundsen and his team reached the South Pole thirty-four days ahead of Scott.

What made the difference?


Planning. Amundsen was a tireless strategist. He had a clear strategy of traveling fifteen to twenty miles a day. Good weather? Fifteen to twenty miles. Bad weather? Fifteen to twenty miles. No more. No less. Always fifteen to twenty miles.


Scott, by contrast, was irregular. He pushed his team to exhaustion in good weather and stopped in bad. The two men had two different philosophies and, consequently, two different outcomes. Amundsen won the race without losing a man. Scott lost not only the race but also his life and the lives of all his team members.9

All for the lack of a plan.


You’d prefer a miracle for your crisis? You’d rather see the bread multiplied or the stormy sea turned to glassy calm in a finger snap? God may do this.

Then, again, he may tell you, “I’m with you. I can use this for good. Now, let’s make a plan.” Trust him to help you.


God’s sovereignty doesn’t negate our responsibility. Just the opposite. It empowers it. When we trust God, we think more clearly and react more decisively. Like Nehemiah, who said, “We prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat” (Nehemiah 4:9 NIV).

We prayed . . . and posted. We trusted and acted. Trust God to do what you can’t. Obey God and do what you can.


Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.


Don’t let the crisis paralyze you.

Don’t let the sadness overwhelm you.

Don’t let the fear intimidate you.

To do nothing is the wrong thing.

To do something is the right thing.

And to believe is the highest thing.


I enjoyed breakfast recently with a friend. Most of our talk revolved around the health of his fourteen-year-old son. Seven years ago a tumor was found behind the boy’s spleen. The discovery led to several months of strenuous prayer and chemotherapy. The son recovered. He is now playing high school football, and the cancer clinic is a distant memory.


The discovery of the tumor was the part of the story I found fascinating. When the boy was seven years old, he was horsing around with cousins. One of them accidentally kicked him in the stomach. Acute pain led to a hospital visit. An alert doctor requested a series of tests. And the tests led the surgeon to discover and remove the tumor. After the cancer was removed, the father asked the physician how long the tumor had been present. Although it was impossible to know with certainty, the form and size of the tumor indicated that it was no more than two or three days old.


“So,” I said, “God used a kick in the gut to get your boy into treatment.”


Then there is the story of Isabel. She spent the first three and one-half years of her life in a Nicaraguan orphanage. No mother, no father. No promise of either. With all orphans, odds of adoption diminish with time. Every passing month decreased Isabel’s chance of being placed in a home.


And then a door slammed on her finger. She was following the other children into the yard to play when a screen door closed on her hand. Pain shot up her arm, and her scream echoed through the playground. Question: Why would God let this happen? Why would a benevolent, omnipotent God permit an innocent girl with more than her share of challenges to feel additional pain?


Might he be calling for the attention of Ryan Schnoke, the American would-be father who was sitting in the playroom nearby? He and his wife, Cristina, had been trying to adopt a child for months. No other adult was nearby to help Isabel, so Ryan walked over, picked her up, and comforted her.


Several months later when Ryan and Cristina were close to giving up, Ryan remembered Isabel and resolved to try one more time. This time the adoption succeeded. Little Isabel is growing up in a happy, healthy home.


A kick in the gut?

A finger in the door?

God doesn’t manufacture pain, but he certainly puts it to use.


God, hear my cry; listen to my prayer. I call to you from the ends of the earth when I am afraid. Carry me away to a high mountain. You have been my protection, like a strong tower against my enemies. Let me live in your Holy Tent forever. Let me find safety in the shelter of your wings. Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you. . . . God, who gives all grace, will make everything right. He will make you strong and support you and keep you from falling. “Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

PSALM 61:1–4; 1 PETER 5:7, 10; MATTHEW 6:34

In Her Own Words:


I grew up in an amazing Christian home, and I witnessed a picture-perfect marriage as my parents guided me steadfastly to live for the Lord. I loved God, but in my youth I fell completely out of step with what it meant to live for God.


When I went to college, I drank . . . a lot. After I graduated from college, I continued to associate with people who did not publicly value the Lord. I wanted and kept looking for peace, stability, and an amazing husband . . . none of which I found.


Feeling the loneliness that comes with pursuing the things of the world, I decided to quit my job and move across the country to live in DC with my sisters. I figured close proximity to my family would help ease the ache and fill the void. Within two weeks, I met Patrick. He loved his family, the Lord, and me. We began dating, and everything about my life was looking brighter.


After we had dated for six months, though, Patrick fell ill. He was diagnosed with stage IV lymphoblastic lymphoma—a childhood cancer not generally found in adults. And that cancer was everywhere—in his lymph nodes, bone marrow, everywhere. Dates and nights on the town in DC turned to long days and nights in hospitals, where I saw the true ugliness of cancer. Our relationship became nurse and patient rather than the typical dating couple.

I cried . . . a lot. I prayed . . . a lot. But I still didn’t go back to church. Furthermore, I was relying on God to get Patrick and me through this, but I wasn’t praising him. I was pleading with my heavenly Father at every turn, but I wasn’t trusting in the fullness of his power and grace. My sister finally called me out on that. Heather demanded that I return to the Christian lifestyle we were raised to live and begin attending church on a regular basis. Insisting that I begin walking in step with what she knew I believed, she said the only way I would get through this mess was to fully rely on the Lord.


So when Patrick was not in the hospital, he and I began attending church together regularly. We began worshiping together, which for me added a whole new dimension to our relationship. Worship also reminded me that no cancer is too big for our God. After three long years of chemo and radiation, after too many hospital visits to count, Patrick has been cancer-free for six years.


After we married, God reminded us how big he is and how he loves to see us rejoice after he has brought us through a storm. Then, against all odds and despite what seemed like insurmountable medical roadblocks, God blessed us with a child. We named her Grace.


Do you recite your woes more naturally

than you do heaven’s strength? If so, no

wonder life is tough.

You’re assuming God isn’t in this crisis.

He is.


Now there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of

Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine.


During the time Joseph was struggling to reconcile with his brothers, he was also navigating a catastrophe. It’d been two years since the last drop of rain. The sky was endlessly blue. The sun relentlessly hot. Animal carcasses littered the ground, and no hope appeared on the horizon. The land was a dust bowl. No rain meant no farming. No farming meant no food. When people appealed to Pharaoh for help, he said, “Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, do” (Genesis 41:55 NKJV).


Joseph faced a calamity on a global scale.


Yet contrast the description of the problem with the outcome. Years passed, and the people told Joseph, “You have saved our lives; let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants” (Genesis 47:25 NKJV).


The people remained calm. A society that was ripe for bedlam actually thanked the government rather than attacked it. Makes a person wonder if Joseph ever taught a course in crisis management. If he did, he included the words he told his brothers: “God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you” (45:5–7).


Joseph began and ended his crisis assessment with references to God. He assumed God was in the crisis.


Then he faced the crisis with a plan. He collected grain during the good years and redistributed it in the bad. When the people ran out of food, he gave it to them in exchange for money, livestock, and property. After he stabilized the economy, he gave the people a lesson on money management. “Give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and as food for yourselves . . .” (47:24 ESV).

Joseph never raised the dead, but he kept people from dying. He never healed the sick, but he kept sickness from spreading. He made a plan and stuck with it. And because he did, the nation survived. He triumphed with a calm, methodical plan.


Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.


High above us there is a crowd of witnesses. They are the Abrahams, Jacobs, and Josephs from all generations and nations. . . . Listen carefully and you will hear a multitude of God’s children urging you on. “Run!” they shout. “Run! God will carry you through this!”


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