Like an 18-car pileup on the interstate, crises of terror, political brinkmanship, natural and man-made disasters give us no space to brace. You see them coming, but all you can do is to cry out in prayer. Sometimes you don’t even see them coming, and your heart is so numb, all you can say is “God, you know.”
Our unmissable vulnerability binds us in times like these. We may be able to track a storm, but remain powerless to shift its course. We can measure the force behind an earthquake, but can only learn of its imminence within seconds of its arrival. The floods of life are but a metaphor. While we think we can ride them out, placing our valuables further and further out of reach, the slow seepage reaches our property and our very lives sometimes. We, like all the rest around us, make a break for survival.
Extremity exposes us all. Naked, bereft of outward beauty and elegance in the trenches of a crisis, the real us emerges. It is either the heart of gold or the spirit of selfishness. I’ve heard many describe the human will to survive and the banding together in times of crisis. On the other hand, we’ve all seen the spirit of selfishness in the price gouging and profiteering from necessities such as food and gasoline.
You can find all the crisis management and resilience training you may ever want in the hundreds of book titles that have the word crisis in them. That’s if you have time to read a book while your life is turned upside down. My bug-out bag only has two tools, for real-time resilience, and I’ll share them with you.
Hang on while you stick together.
Your survival now and your mental well-being will pivot upon the support of those close to you. Remember how Moses raised his famed staff to heaven, a stance that signified strength, faith, and pointed to the Source of all? As he did this, team Israel, in real-time, fought back its enemy and advanced in the battle at hand. When Moses got tired, rested and lowered his hands, his people lost ground, and the enemy advanced. Finally, someone understood that helping Moses, powerful in faith as he was, would save them all.
“Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle” Exodus 17:12,13.*
Social scientists studied this effect when they explored the personal, inner core of survivors from the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” the wretched Vietnamese prisoner of war camp at which Senator John McCain was held for more than five years. Faith, humor, optimism, willingness to help others in need, having a role model, and maintaining physical fitness comprised his formula for endurance even in the face of torture. But, it was their “tap code,” writes Lucy Hone in her book Resilient Grieving, that made a difference. Their tap code was a way to communicate when they couldn’t see each other, a way to signal hope and encouragement, that gave them the strength needed to survive.
Our relationships with our close friends and loved ones—when we still have them—especially in times like these, emerge as the studs around which we have built our lives. Everything around us may fail, but these pillars of strength allow us to rebuild in the face of threat and waste. Get through this crisis by helping someone else endure, and you may find yourselves walking out together.
Grab Onto God
“When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace; In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.” The verse to the old hymn not only details on what and on whom to hold, but under what circumstance: when darkness veils His lovely face.
You may not have the benefit of human companionship when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death. It is there, however, that you find that inexplicable golden strand glimmering in the lightning, and in the firestorm, in the darkness.
Though you may wonder where He is, why He’s allowed this crisis to creep into your life, ask Him for clarity, Psalm 34:4. Your cries can’t escape His notice. Psalm 34:17. And, He is there, in your desperation, Psalm 34:18. And your displacement does not surprise or confuse God, Psalm 139:7-10
* Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.