What Crisis Can Teach Us When We Let God Use It
David Gushee, who is a professor of Christian Moral Philosophy at a major university, tells of a transforming time in his life. Holly, his eighteen year old daughter, was driving on a rain swept road at night when she must have missed a stop sign. A large SUV traveling at the speed limit of 55 mph struck her car on the driver-side door and dragged her car sideways for several hundred feet. Besides multiple broken bones, she had suffered significant brain injuries which left her unresponsive for three day. The doctors warned the family that they had no idea how much brain function she might recover. Then she opened her eyes and had some body movement but seemed slow to comprehend her environment. For the next eleven days she drifted in and out of consciousness with minimal movement and never uttering anything but groans and signs of pain. The family was told to talk to her and keep her TV on in the room if they were not present so that there was a stimulating environment around her to which her brain function could respond. Then, fourteen days after the accident, when a nurse came into her room to check on her, Holly rasped out the words, “Could you change the channel, I never liked that show.” While she had a great deal of physical rehab ahead of her, the doctors were amazed at her mental recovery, calling it “absolutely miraculous.”
David had just written a book about human nature before the accident, though it had not yet been published. He revised it a bit before it was published because he said that the months after the accident had modified his thinking. It was basically the same book but his experience from the time after the accident had caused him to refine some of his insights and applications. As a friend of his wisely pointed out to him, the difference was between knowledge and experience. He had emphasized the deep and mysterious interconnections between human beings and how sacred human life is. But he had not realized how deeply that was true until he had seen Holly’s bruised and broken body in the ER, and his wondering in the following days if she would ever wake up, and if she did, whether she would still be “Holly.” The experience of getting her back as from the dead awakened in him an understanding of her immeasurable value, and by extension to the immeasurable value of every human being. He knew that before the accident, but now he really knew it because he had experienced it in a way that was very personal.
Following Jesus’ crucifixion and death on Good Friday, the disciples were devastated and broken. Their hopes and dreams had been shattered. They asked, “Why did God allow this to happen?” After Jesus’ resurrection, in those forty days of additional teaching by him, and later after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost had awakened in their memories many of the things that Jesus had taught them, they came to realize how much of their hopes and dreams were wrong and not what God wanted them to learn. God used the crisis of those days, and many to follow, to remold and reshape them into the instruments of the Gospel that he had intended them to become. In like manner, God often uses times of crisis in our lives (most of which are not of his making!) to refine, reshape and prepare us for life ahead. Often, like the Disciples, we have to learn that many of our hopes, dreams and beliefs have gone astray and that we need to allow God to use the roadblocks and crises of life to get us back on the right track spiritually.