We live in an age like no other. All over the world there are wars taking place, economies getting worse and some even failing. We work our fingers to the bone and have little to show for it. Some of us can’t work because we don’t even have a job. Homes are being foreclosed on. Food prices as well as other needed commodities are going up, up, up to many bills and not enough pay check.
The feeling that we have is that no matter where we turn, we have the sword of Damocles hanging over our head.
For those of you who do not know , this phrase comes from greek mythology about a man named Damocles who had to eat his food with a sword hanging over him which was tied up by a single hair.
If he did not eat, he starved. If he did eat he has this heavy sword hanging over his head. No matter how you look at it, this guy was living in crisis.
So, how many of us feel like this?
It is very easy to feel despair, especially with all that is going on in today’s world, our personal lives and professional lives.
We are surrounded by stress 24/7 – 365 days a year.
Oh, and to heap even more on you, it is not getting any better.
Hope in Times of Despair
We are living in times of despair. It impacts us deeply. There is nothing that we can do and the feeling of helplessness is overwhelming.
The world seems to be moving at eight times the speed of light and things are so overwhelming.
In fact, some of us are in crisis right now.
How can we prepare and respond to all these crisis that are taking place all over in our lives and outside our lives?
Problems vs Crisis
In this muddied up world we have to learn to determine what a “problem” is and what a “crisis” is.
What is a Problem?
First of all, let’s look at a problem. Problems are things we can deal with and most likely do something about. We have the ability to “fix the problem” with the gifts and talents that God has given us.
What is a Crisis?
On the other hand there is the crisis. A crisis is a situation or an emergency that requires immediate action. In fact the action implemented will often need to solve the crisis.
A crisis is something that you usually cannot “fix” and there is nothing that you can do about it.
A crisis occurs when a stressful life event overwhelms your ability to cope effectively in the face of a perceived challenge or threat.
In both of these instances there is an answer.
The Third Party Rule
When you are in the ministry, you have a huge target painted on your back. Every bump, every obstacle, every challenge, trial, tribulation, ect happens to you.
Because you are making a difference in the world and helping further the kingdom of God.
It is a very bumpy ride of out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Now, because of the days we are living in if you are a true bible believing Christian, you to have a large target painted on your back.
It was all these trials, tribulations and crisis that after a while Cynthia and I learned to apply what we call “The Third Party Rule.”
The third party rule is as follows…
Proverbs 35-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
So whenever we come up against a situation, we have learned to quickly decide if it is a “problem” or “Crisis”
If it is a problem, one or both of us work to solve the problem.
But after a while of working on this problem, we come to the conclusion that it is not a problem, but actually a crisis.
Remember, a problem is something we can fix, a crisis is something outside our realm of control.
When Cynthia and I realize that what we are dealing with is a crisis, we have learned to instantly jump to “The Third Party Rule” – AKA Proverbs 35-6.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
This is the first part of the Third Party Rule. Problem with many people is that they say they trust in the Lord, but then try to take control of things on their own and what usually happens is that they botch things up even worse. What often happens is that the crisis escalates into a Serious Crisis.
This is often due to the fact that we ourselves are not made to solve crisis, we can solve problems. But remember a crisis is often something that we cannot solve.
That is why it takes a third party and for those of us who are bible believing Christians that third party is God.
The faster that you lay your crisis at the feet of God, God can then solve that crisis.
Here is the important part that many of us forget when we lay it at His feet, we are then to completely walk away and never return to pick back up the crisis again.
That is the part that often gets us in trouble.
We often think that we have it within ourselves to solve our crisis and we don’t. We are to prideful to admit that we have a crisis and we need God’s help to solve the crisis. And until we can get to the point where we can admit that we are helpless and cannot solve the crisis, we will continue to flounder, sink, and in some cases drown due to a crisis we were not willing to let go of.
The primary key to applying The Third Party Rule is having faith that God is going to handle it for us.
We often fail because we do not have enough faith in Him. And as sad as this sounds, many of us struggle with this.
Now Cynthia and I have had years of trials and tribulations, we have learned to quickly apply The Third Party Rule, when it is needed.
In our lives we have found that when we do apply The Third Party Rule, God will usually create “a way out” / answers our prayers in His timing.
Third Party Rule = Prayer
Applying the Third Party Rule means having to do one thing.
Praying to God and asking Him to solve the crisis.
Cynthia and I have learned to quickly pray and also ask others for prayer.
Remember the song we used to sing as a child?
Jesus loves me this I know.
For the bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.
More than anyone out there, Jesus understands suffering. He (God) came to earth in the flesh and He suffered for us. Christ was innocent and died a cruel and horrible death.
So He understands our crisis.
We can cry out to Jesus because He cares for us and He knows what we are going through.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in Peter.
1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him for he careth for you.
Here is something neat. In Isaiah Christ is described as the following…
Isaiah 533 He is despised and rejected of men a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief and we hid as it were our faces from him he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Christ knew our fear and anxiety, our physical suffering, our hunger, our cold, and our sadness. He wept. He even questioned God.
So who better to go to, when we have problems and crisis take place in our lives?
Why is …?
Why is my family struggling?
Why isn’t my husband or wife here?
Why is there evil in the world?
Why are we at war?
We need answers and we need an opportunity to ask these questions. It is part of our human nature because crisis is often “bigger” than us and outside our control.
Like how a loving father listens to his child’s questions, God also listens to us. He is not threatened by our questions. In fact the Bible is full of people questioning God.
The wonderful thing is that God answered them and He will also answer you as well.
But here is another key point, we may not like the answer we get.
A Great Lesson From Habakkuk
Habakkuk was one of the Minor Prophets and also the author of the book of Habakkuk found in the Old Testament.
Like many of us, Habakkuk looked around at the world around him and asked God the following…
Habakkuk 1:2-3 O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! 3 Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me and there are that raise up strife and contention.
Basically he is saying “God how long do I have to cry out and you not hear me?”
Ever feel your prayers bouncing off the ceiling?
Habakkuk goes on and asks “ Why do you just look on when those guys out there are being so treacherous? God, you hold your tongue / hold back when the wicked does evil against those who are righteous.”
Does this sound familiar?
How many times have you asked something akin to this?
How does God answer Habakkuk? We read the following…
Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him but the just shall live by his faith.
“The just shall live by faith”.
Kind of sounds familiar right?
Remember “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”
We have got to have faith in Him. Faith in believing that God is big enough to deal with the things that we cannot change.
God is going to bring some good out of the crisis that is taking place in our life at that time.
Living by faith means waking up in the morning and saying “God, I have no idea what you are going to do to my world today. At the moment my world is a mess and it hurts. But I know you are there and that you love me. So today I am going to get out of bed and be on the lookout for things that take place, always watching as you make things right.”
Bad Things Happen To Good People
God does love us, very, very much. But bad things happen to good people.
It sucks, I know. We have had bad things happen and we have asked why.
Look out there, many among us are grieving for lost loved ones. We might be anxious for sons and daughters who are sent off to war. We might be fighting private battles against illness or betrayal or finances.
The days can get very ugly and a peaceful sleep at night eludes us.
But there is one constant. God is still in control and He still sits upon His throne. In the midst of all the chaos, there is still a reason to hope.
We may not see it at that moment, but no matter what, God has our best interests at heart. His grace is sufficient for us and He will see us through the crisis.
He promises us that with the following…
1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
No matter what crisis you are going through, God will not make it such that you cannot bear it. His grace will be there and His grace will see us through any storm, crisis, even unto death, God’s grace is there for us.
That is His promise to His children.
Are Bad Things Taking Place In Your Life? Do YOU Need Help With Your Crisis?
Bad things happen, that is a fact. But the wonderful thing is that God is there and that He loves us. When things are happening to us that break our heart, it also breaks His heart. He knows what we are going through because He himself has been there as well.
See there is reason to hope, even in the crisis that you may be facing now.
Hebrews 1:35 Let your conversation be without covetousness and be content with such things as ye have for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
He can make what is wrong, right. What is bad, good and something beautiful out of something ugly.
He does this because He loves us and wants to be that loving father.
There can be peace in the raging storm that you might be facing right now.
That peace is found only in God’s only Son Jesus Christ.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God
Part of our problem is that we are sinners who are lost and need a savior. Because we are sinners, we fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Because we are sinners our wages, our penalty is death. But because God gave His only begotten Son Jesus, we have life.
But to have that life, we need to make things right and repent for the sins we have committed against God.
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at but now commandeth all men every where to repent
So we are commanded by God to repent and doing that is hard. But God also gives us a wonderful promise.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Christ is there for us in our crisis and He will see us through. But what we have got to do when we are in crisis is to learn to apply “The Third Party Rule.”
Remember “the just shall live by his faith.”