The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly- John 10:10 ESV
One could argue life is nothing more than a long series of hard times punctuated by brief moments of peace and tranquility.
Jesus straight-up admitted as much in John 16:33 when He promised we would have trouble in this world.
Because trouble and hardship are a given in life (Genesis 3:13-19). Christians who want to make a difference in this world must become skilled at managing hard times with faith, grace and a least a measure of dignity. This is no small task.
Doing so requires wisdom and unceasing prayer (Colossians 4:21st Thessalonians 5:17).
One of the many lessons I learned this week as I struggled to manage a series of weird little disasters is that one aspect of handling a crisis well is understanding that the enemy is eager to steal some things from us in tough times. The good news is Satan can’t take any of those things from us without our cooperation. God allows us to decide whether or not we are going to concede these five things in a crisis:
The biggest difference between a Christian and a non-Christian (besides where they spend eternity) is a Christian has the power not just to appear peaceful in a tragedy but to actually be at peace in the face of chaos and deep personal pain (John 14:27, Romans 8:6, Colossians 3:15). Because peace is the one visible trait separating believers from unbelievers, the enemy does everything possible to steal the peace that is our birthright as Christians. The enemy wants to send Christians spinning (metaphorically speaking) in a way that is visible to other people because this causes non-Christians to believe God is either imaginary or weak and ineffective. We hold on to peace by choosing to focus on the good God has done in the past and is currently doing in our lives. Then we must discipline ourselves to pray about our situation rather than worrying about it. Finally, we must look for things to be thankful for even when life is tougher than we wish it was (Philippians 4:6-9)
Faith in God does three very powerful things. Faith saves sinners from the consequences of their sin (Acts 20:21, Ephesians 2:8, Hebrews 10:39). Faith causes Christians to act on behalf of others even when it is not in their best interest to do so (James 2:18-25). Finally, faith acts as a witness of God’s existence (Hebrews 11:1). When unbelievers see Christians act in faith it provides evidence God is real. Because faith is such a powerful thing, stealing our faith in times of crisis is a high priority of the enemy. We keep our faith intact by meditating on how God came through for us in the past and by asking God to show us how He is working on our behalf in the present. I believe with all my heart and soul faith is a gift God will us if we ask for it (1st Corinthians 12:8-10).
Our ability to think and reason-
The ability to think and reason is perhaps the greatest gift God gives people. The ability to reason keeps us from acting out of instinct and causing ourselves or others harm in scary situations. Because human beings are made in the image of God Satan hates humans with a foul and unholy passion. Therefore, he wants people to act rashly and hurt themselves. We keep from doing ourselves harm by intentionally slowing down in a crisis and doing nothing until we have prayed fervently over our next move. As we slow down and pray we become capable of separating feelings from facts. This empowers us to calmly and rationally think through all the available options rather than the ones that look or feel obvious and easy. Remember, obvious and easy are nearly always the worst possible options in a crisis.
Our compassion for others-
Hard times either cause us to care more about people than we ever did before or they cause us to become incredibly selfish, judgmental and self-protective even after the crisis has passed. We maintain our compassion for others by asking God every single day to give us the ability to see people the way He sees them.
Our Problem solving abilities-
We lose our ability to problem-solve anytime we look too far down the road and focus on what might happen rather than the problem we have in front of us (Matthew 6:25-34). Concern for the future is wise (Proverbs 21:5). However, when we allow ourselves to become fixated on what might possibly happen if we do this or that we lose the power to envision a future without problems. This keeps us stuck in an endless loop of what-ifs. What-ifs are one of Satan’s favorite playgrounds.
If we can hold onto the things Satan wants to steal from us in a crisis, we will go through the it with our faith and dignity intact. We will also come out the other side praising God for His goodness and better equipped to help others with the trouble life inevitably brings.