“Never let a crisis go to waste.” You often hear that phrase used in relation to the current administration in our nation’s capitol. But, according to my resident scholar Alexa, that phrase was used many years ago by Prime Minister Winston Churchill. His exact words were “Never let a ‘good’ crisis go to waste.”
Some folks believe that politicians create a problem or crisis in order to distract the public from another pressing issue. This would be similar to a person setting a building on fire while they go to rob a bank; the blazes attract the attention of the firefighters and police while the thief pulls off the heist.
We certainly don’t need any more crises but we do need to recognize the value a crisis can have in our life. Now, I’m not in any way advocating we should create a crisis. What I’m getting at is that we should never let a crisis go to waste. We can learn more and grow more from our struggles than from our easy times.
One of the challenges we have about learning from our problems is the forgetful mindset we have adopted because of the instant news cycle we have become accustomed to. We are bombarded with multiple tragedies, murders, scandals, wars in real-time from home and across the world. Crises are part of the daily news diet and we simply cannot digest it all. We tend to become hardened to it and develop a survival attitude; reluctant to ponder the profound life lessons crises may hold for us.
How can we look at these enormous challenges from a more personal, optimistic, and faith perspective? In his book Faithful Change, Dr. James Fowler says that each generation has felt they lived in unprecedented times, experiencing the full range of challenges of human living. To live faithfully, we must learn to make good choices in light of those challenges. Fowler discusses three kinds of change we must negotiate if we are to live faithfully: (1) developmental change,(2) healing or reconstructive change, and (3) change due to disruptions and modifications of the systems that shape our lives. Let me explain what I think Dr. Fowler means about these three kinds of change we face in our pilgrimage from birth to death.
(1) Developmental change is the process of physical, emotional, and intellectual challenges we face in the life cycle from conception, birth, young children, pre-adolescents, teenagers, young adults, and so on until old age and death. This process is ever-present as we deal with the two additional areas of challenge. I’m in my eighth decade and certainly notice lots of challenges that come with the territory. The next step in this process for me is dying. That idea doesn’t appeal to me but I know the One who will see me through that just as He has faithfully brought me to this stage of life.
(2) Fowler also writes about “healing or reconstructive change;” the need for healing from harmful patterns of emotion and thinking which we have adopted to help us feel safe and less vulnerable to the harsh realities of life. This false sense of self and security is challenged when we lose a job, face a major health crisis, lose a loved one or go through a divorce or other significant disruption. Such a crisis presents an opportunity to reassess who we are and to make necessary changes. Think about how true this is in your personal experiences. How has God helped you faithfully change in light of personal loss or crises in your life?
(3) Change due to systems that shape our lives has to do with the challenges that come from our participation in our society’s social, political, and economic processes. We often feel the only control we have in these areas is how we will respond to the decisions of those in power. We are in the midst of what is often labeled as a “cultural war.” One of the challenges a believer faces in this postmodern culture is how to maintain a faithful, loving witness in a society we believe to be in a rapid downward spiral. While we don’t control many of the financial, health-related, and political issues that affect us, we must learn from these crises and take responsibility for our choices. Our nation is in a mess on different fronts. How can we respond faithfully to what we see is happening to the country we love?
Never let a crisis go to waste. Life often poses a variety of challenges; coming at us from various directions. To live well, we must understand how our everyday choices form patterns of decision-making that will ultimately prove to be wise or foolish when the next crisis comes. And, troubles will come to each of us in one way or another.
Sadly, lots of folks may look back on the crisis events of the last few years and regret their lack of preparation for the problems they faced. Some will wish they had spent more time with those they have lost. Others will chide their lack of financial discipline and regret they didn’t put away some savings for times like these.
Those who don’t let their crises go to waste will come to terms with the fact that material possessions and money, while necessary, are not a reliable source for our security. We are made for another world, and it is to our great benefit that we invest our life and temporal possessions in that world.
Whether solely personal or shared with much of humanity, every crisis is an opportunity to reassess how you live and invest in God’s priorities. There are more crises ahead, and the daily investments you make will be crucial in weathering the coming storms.
Many believe our nation is in a great crisis politically, economically, and morally. Are the vitriol and divisiveness a harbinger of a country that is about to come apart at the seams? Where is that something or someone to bring us together, to unite us?
When I am concerned or worried about personal issues or the various challenges of our republic, I find a new perspective and comfort in scriptural passages like this one in Psalm 46: 1-2 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea.”
Think about this. Much of the New Testament was written to help the early believers deal with persecution and crises. James 1:2-4 tells believers to understand that their problems can be an opportunity to grow to be more like Jesus.