How do you respond when a crisis crashes into your life? Someone you love is in ICU (that’s what we’re dealing with this week), or a conflict erupts among friends, or someone does something to hurt you? Or how about when an unexpected need arises? Your car needs a new transmission or the toilets need replacing all over your house (that one is for you, Mom:)).
During a crisis, I see a lot of different responses in myself and the people around me. Maybe you can relate to one of these:
Panic: worry, stress out, think, worry, imagine terrible outcomes, think, worry, worry some more
Escape: get away from the pain and confusion by indulging in the opiate of your choice (food, drink, movies, books, the internet etc.)
Despair: give up, crawl under the covers
Control: manically clean your house from top to bottom, thinking this might help you feel better
As we deal with our family crisis, I’m fighting the urge to do several of these today. I’m looking a lot like the disciples in Mark 7 and 8. They are traveling with Jesus, crossing the sea again. They realize that they’ve forgotten to bring bread. In fact, they only have one loaf for a whole group of hungry men. Their response? Strategy. They begin discussing the problem with each other, probably trying to figure out how to solve it.
Now let’s not miss the irony here. They are sitting in a boat with a man they saw walk on the very water beneath them. A man who spoke to the storm, and it obeyed him. A man they watched feed thousands of people with a kindergartener’s lunch. Twice. And they are strategizing how to solve the problem of their hunger?
We scoff at the disciples’ stupidity. We roll our eyes at their inability to see the power available right in front of them. Silly disciples.
But we’re not any different, are we?
When crisis hits, we do a lot of stupid things, too. We panic, we escape, we despair, we control, we strategize. We forget to turn to Jesus who is standing right in front of us.
Jesus knows what his disciples are discussing. He asks them several questions, trying to get at their hearts. And then he asks the question that haunts me, Do you not remember?
Do you not remember how I took care of you the last time you were hungry?
Do you not remember how I provided for you the last time you were at the end of your resources?
Do you not remember how I held you through the last crisis, working things out on your behalf?
We don’t remember. So we try, feebly, to deal with the crisis in our own way only to find our methods ineffective and worthless. Again.
I think the response Jesus is looking for in his disciples, then and now, is trust. A crisis or an unexpected need arises and the first thing we do is look at Jesus. We turn a childlike, trusting gaze to him and ask him what to do. He’s in the boat with us, after all. He always has been. Remember that.