Thursday, March 26

What a crisis does to your faith

Scripture: Judges 1-3, 1 Corinthians 12

Judges 2:10–12 After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. 11 The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal. 12 They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord.

Observation

Judges is the story of Israel in the in-between.  They were in-between the period of Moses and Joshua who led them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, and the period of the kings (Saul and David and Solomon, etc) who led them as an established nation.  In-between were the judges: charismatic leaders who arose in times of crisis and led Israel, delivering them from foreign oppressors.  

The time of the judges (about 400 years) was characterized by repeated apostasy—the Israelites time and again abandoned God and worshiped the gods of the nations around them.  It was also characterized by lawlessness—everyone did what was right in their own eyes.  Because of this, there are some stories in this book that will curl your hair!  And it was characterized by cycles of renewal and rebellion.  The people would rebel and abandon God; God would allow them to be conquered and oppressed; the people would cry out for help; God would send a judge to deliver them; as long as the judge lived, they would serve God; when the judge died, they would abandon God.  And the cycle would repeat.  

This cycle started the first time after Joshua and his generation died.  The next generation didn’t know the Lord and hadn’t experienced first hand “the mighty things He had done for Israel.”  They abandoned the Lord.  

Application

We are stuck in the in-between right now: parts of our lives are on hold while we wait out this crisis.  So this book of Judges might have some things to teach us. 

The story of Judges can be played out in our lives.  We can go through cycles too—far from God, crisis comes and gets our attention, turn to God, only to abandon Him later.  Or for some it works the opposite: close to God, crisis comes and our faith fails, and we abandon God.  

I don’t think any of us want to have a shallow, cyclical faith—up then down, close then far.  Here are a couple things to remember and apply.

First, God doesn’t have any grandkids.  You can only go so far on your parents’ faith (or your pastors’ faith, or your friend’s faith).  You need your own experience with God, your own stories of His power in your life.  Second-hand faith is usually weak faith.  Be grateful for whatever heritage you’ve received, but grow your own relationship with God!  Be God’s child, not His grandchild!

Second, a crisis won’t destroy your faith; it will reveal it for what it is.  If your faith is strong, the crisis will push you closer to God.  If your faith is weak, the crisis may overwhelm your faith.  But the crisis didn’t make your faith strong or weak; it simply revealed what it was.  

A pastor in this coronavirus crisis was concerned about losing people from his church since they weren’t able to meet for several weeks.  Someone replied, “A faith that can’t stand on its own for a few weeks isn’t a very strong faith.”  True that.

Now is always the time to sink your roots deep into Jesus.  Then when crisis comes, your deep, sturdy, strong faith will sustain you. Do it now and you’ll have stories to tell your kids of what God did in this time! Let’s do it!

Prayer: Lord, help us every day to sink our roots deep into You.  Help us have a strong and sturdy faith that doesn’t go up and down with each crisis, but stands strong no matter what!