One of the things that kids in Oklahoma learn early on is how to react in emergency situations; because there are many tornados in that part of the U.S. ---they call it, "Tornado Alley". Whenever the siren went off:
- Check the T.V. for info
- Learned best place to take refuge
- Many built special shelters
Of course each place has its own dangers and emergency preparations. However, these are not the only types of emergencies that can happen. Sometimes in our lives, we face spiritual emergencies and I think we need to learn to prepare for these events as well, because everyone at one time or another will .. face a "spiritual" emergency of some kind.
When you really think of it, there are all kinds of spiritual emergencies. For example:
Someone you admire and respect, as a Christian, lets you down or acts in an unchristian or sinful way, and you feel cynical and discouraged about your faith. This is a spiritual emergency.
The church where you attend has trouble, there is division or infighting, and it threatens to make you quit church all together. This is another spiritual emergency.
It seems that unbelievers and evil people in the world, go unpunished and enjoy a great lifestyle and are happy and carefree. This is going on while you and your faith are experiencing nothing but struggle and very little reward… a crisis of faith that sounds the alarm for a spiritual emergency. Probably the most difficult of all, someone you love, who has everything to live for, is taken suddenly through an accident or cruel disease.
You watch them being taken, long before their time and you feel the crushing pain of loss mixed with anger and desperation all coming together to take your breath away. And like a sudden cold wind through an open window, this catastrophe blows on the flame of your faith and nearly extinguishes it. And you awaken from the dead sleep, asking why of a God you are beginning to doubt, maybe even hate… you find yourself not only in grief and mourning, pain and sorrow, you are also in a full blown spiritual emergency. For all those who have ever been there, for those who are there today, for those who will experience it in the future, I urge you to listen carefully so you can keep the faith when you face your own spiritual emergency.
How to Prepare for Spiritual Emergencies
I believe that even though some of us are sitting here this morning, smiling and greeting each other, we may still be experiencing spiritual emergencies in our hearts. Unlike tornados, however, or fires, or floods, spiritual emergencies will eventually hit your house one-day. A good example of one who dealt well, with spiritual emergencies is David, the second King of Israel.
There was one particular time in his life when he was in great danger of losing his soul. This was right after he had sinned with Bathsheba. Most of us are familiar with this story: In II Samuel, we read that David seduced another man's wife and conceived a child with her. Once this was announced to him, he arranged to have the woman's husband killed in battle. He married the woman trying to hide their sin.
After these events take place, God sends the prophet Nathan to confront David about his sin and David acknowledges his wrongdoing. In II Samuel 12 beginning in verse 7 we read about the spiritual emergency that David finds himself in, and how he dealt with it.
7 Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, 'It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I also gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! 9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. 10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' 11 Thus says the Lord, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 12 Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.'" 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord." And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. 14 However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die." 15 So Nathan went to his house.
Then the Lord struck the child that Uriah's widow bore to David, so that he was very sick. 16 David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him in order to raise him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat food with them. 18 Then it happened on the seventh day that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was still alive, we spoke to him and he did not listen to our voice. How then can we tell him that the child is dead, since he might do himself harm!" 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; so David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?" And they said, “He is dead." 20 So David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he came to his own house, and when he requested, they set food before him and he ate.
21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food." 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live.' 23 But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me."
24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her; and she gave birth to a son, and he named him Solomon. Now the Lord loved him 25 and sent word through Nathan the prophet, and he named him Jedidiah for the Lord's sake.
- II Samuel 12:7-25
I want you to notice the enormity of David's spiritual emergency:He was caught in a series of terrible sins. He managed to save his own life but God previews the terrible punishment that will take place in his family (division, and public shame). He was in disgrace before his family and nation. A child that he desired, dies. He also knows that it is his fault that the child is taken; his sins did this to the child. I think most of us would cave in if we were under such extreme stress. But David managed to do three things that enabled him to deal successfully with the spiritual emergency that was facing him:
1. David Did Not Abandon God
David could have gone away angry, could have made foolish remarks, could have used this as an excuse to turn away from God to do his own thing or even excuse his bad behavior in other areas, but he didn't. He was mature enough, sober enough, spiritual enough, to realize that God didn't cause this tragedy - sin caused it - his sin. David didn't make the mistake of blaming God for the sins that he committed. He understood that from the beginning of time, it is always sin that brings death in its many forms, not God.
Sometimes death comes because we ourselves sin. For example, we abuse ourselves or take risk or act foolishly and bring about the things that kill us before our time. Most times, we are the victims of the weakness of human flesh brought upon us by Adam's first sin. The Bible tells us that this sin unleashed the domino effect that reaches into every generation to slay us through wars, natural disasters, stupidity, or, as has been the case in many of our lives, sin has unleashed a lethal disease born in a disrupted ecology, and blindly passed on throughout the generations.
In other words, sometimes we're the victims of our own sins, ands sometimes we are the victims of the general weakness and fallen nature of mankind. Either way, we are victims of sin. David understood that God forgave sin but, in order to save the spirit, he allowed the corrupt body to be detached from the flesh, and that separation which we call death, would be ugly, painful, and hardly ever timely. David, through his tears, recognized the process, the naturalness of it, the good to come form it, the control of God behind it, and the need for it to be this way for the soul of the departed to be at rest, in peace and poised for joy in heaven.
David did not panic or make sudden spiritual moves. David acknowledged God's sovereignty, he also remained fully aware that even though one he loved dearly had died - God was still very much alive.
Another thing that David did to avoid spiritual calamity:
2. David Accepted Reality
Note that when they informed him of the death of the child, he stopped acting as if the child were still alive and accepted reality. Of course this was a new reality, one he begged not to face, one that changed his world (and not for the better), but he accepted it.
I believe God helped him here by bringing him to a place where many of us usually take a long time to get. We grieve and heal and work our way to acceptance with the help of God and others. David, with God's help, was able to arrive at this point more quickly.
The point I'm making about this part is that when David was faced with the new reality, he accepted it. He didn't remain in denial or anger or depression, etc. He accepted what God had permitted to happen. He accepted that God didn't answer his prayers positively.
David accepted the new terms and conditions of his life. Some people face spiritual emergencies by living in the past, by living in anger, by living anywhere but in the present. We need to understand that this is a form of rebellion to God's final will. David submitted his will to God's and accepted the new reality, which put out the fire of his pain.
The final thing that David did in order to deal with his spiritual emergency:
3. David Began to Minister to Someone Else
When he first met Bathsheba, David used her for his own pleasure. This woman lost: her honor, her husband and her baby. She was devastated, helpless and humiliated and dishonored before God. She needed help and David began to minister to he in order to remake he broken life before God, before her departed husband, and before the nation.
Many times, we face the crisis by perpetually living in the crisis. It's as if staying in emergency mode, emergency prep, becomes a way of life in itself. Sometimes it's our way of not facing the future, we simply live in the fear of another emergency. Like people actually moving into their storm shelters. It's a life, but it's not a normal life.
Eventually, the siren goes quiet, the rescue vehicles leave the scene, the crisis is over and we must move on. Usually, it's better for us if we focus less on saving ourselves from the next crisis, and more on saving others at this point. Ministering to others is a good way of getting our balance back. By trying to help heal another person's broken heart, we go a long way in healing our own.
In the end, David and Bathsheba have another son and his name is Solomon. Later on in his life, the Queen Mother, Bathsheba, plays an important part in assuring God's will is done in seating Solomon on David's throne. Because he reacted well to his spiritual emergency, God blesses David despite his mistakes. As I said Bathsheba bears a second son, his name is Solomon and he becomes a great king over the nation at its peak.
In the end, God makes something great out of David's tragedy. Because David:
- Did not abandon God
- Allowed God's will to be done in his life
- Began to minister to another
- David became a better person
Isn't it amazing that long after David had committed these sins and faced his spiritual emergency that the Holy Spirit said of him in Acts 13:22:
I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after my heart who will do all my will.
You see, it's not whether or not you have spiritual emergencies in your life; it's about how you deal with them that will determine the kind of person you are before God. We should look at David's life when we ask ourselves how we will meet the tragedies and losses and spiritual crisis in our own lives. When our time comes:
- Will we abandon God or will we bear under the hurt and surrender ourselves unto Him even more?
- Will we refuse to accept the difficult new reality by giving up life and love and hope all together, or will we accept this change and make the best we can of it knowing that the hurt will one day be less and the sun will shine once again?
- Will we retreat into ourselves, focus on our loss, choose to love only in this moment from now on, or will we transform our grief into the powerful energy of love?
After all, once the emergency is over, we still have a life to live and people to love and care for. Who will give them the love that they need, who will minister to them now that the emergency is over?
I don't know what it is, I may not live long enough to see it, but I know by faith that God can make something out of tragedy.
- God can glorify Himself.
- God can bless others.
- God can honor those whom we have loved and are now gone.
God can do all this if you do not allow the crisis you face to extinguish the flame of faith that glows brightly in all of you for Christ. Of course, before I close out this morning, I want to remind you that the greatest spiritual crisis that anyone faces is to go before God in judgment without the cleansing blood of Christ covering their sins. No amount of emergency management or crisis control can stop the judgment of God coming upon you if you do not respond to Christ in faith.
I urge all of you therefore, if you have any sins between you and God, to deal with them now and avoid the crisis that will come should you have to face God without faith in Christ.