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Discerning God’s Gifts in a Crisis

Posted on February 15th, 2017

I received a phone call to turn on the news as a story was breaking about a local supermarket burning to the ground. Images of fire trucks, destruction, and towering flames filled my computer screen. A New Life Fellowship Church member had invested 25 years of his life to build that business. His life work was now in ashes.

We met over dinner a few weeks after the tragedy, and Geri and I listened to the story. What surprised me most was not his response but mine. His grief and disorientation were so great that my first thought was that he speak with a good Christian counselor. It was only when Geri and I were in the car returning home that I realized how I had failed to ask a far more important question – that of discernment. Where was God in the fire?

This is what I failed to remember: Death and resurrection are the normal, lifelong spiritual rhythms for every follower of Jesus (Jn. 12:24). A central teaching of Jesus is that life comes through death, that we gain our lives by losing them. When we embrace this rhythm, we approach life differently. New possibilities emerge. These become seasons of profound transformation and doors to new revelations about God and ourselves.

We comfort people in crisis, hoping to make them feel better by our presence. We try to help them develop new ways of coping. The reality, however, is that spiritual growth cannot happen without embracing the little and small deaths that come into our lives.

Let me invite you to ask yourself the following 4 questions the next time you, or someone around you, finds themselves in a crisis:

  1. How might your crisis be an opportunity to discover what is dying in your life?
    My first reaction in pain or roadblocks is to get angry and not listen to God. When I ask this question, however, I often discover God has a lot to say.
  2. How might you reframe, or rename, what is happening so this becomes a time of finding God and not missing Him?
    My tendency is to problem solve and fix – as quickly as possible. This question slows me down to reinterpret crises as God’s normal spiritual rhythm for my transformation and leadership.
  3. What sounds of resurrection might you faintly hear in the distance?
    Entering the place of loss and pain is hard work. It is easier to join the culture and flee, fight, or freeze as a way to medicate the pain. While I find His voice of love very difficult to hear initially, over time it does become clearer – if I remain with Him in the process.
  4. Who might be a wise companion to help you discern the death and resurrection God is doing in and through you?
    I often wonder what would have happened to Mary if she didn’t have her cousin Elizabeth to accompany her in discerning the new life that was forming in her womb.

May we who lead find the grace to step out in vulnerability and tell the truth about the deaths in our own lives. This will open up an opportunity for us to model the journey of what it means to follow Jesus. Yes, it is true that we live and die. But it is also true that we die and live.


Let me invite you to our Emotionally Healthy Leadership Conference May 3rd and 4th at New Life Fellowship Church where you can learn and experience what this all looks like on all levels of leading a local church community. Learn more here.



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