Thursday, April 21, 2011

Outbreak of Crises

While he was still speaking, another also came and said, "The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you." (Job 1:16 NAS)

CancerFrequently, when a crisis comes our way, it seldom comes alone. When I was a teenager, several crises happened in my life in succession one after another within a short span of time. The crises came like an outbreak of calamity, suddenly and without warning—a loved one seriously ill, an affectionate relationship broken, and a discord in church separating many friendships and the congregation. It was like the entire world turned against me and I was left all alone with no one to turn to for help or share my pain and agony. In that state of despair and desperation, I strayed from God for a little while, but soon returned because I knew I could never live a meaningful life without Him.

The Bible also tells of one who was suddenly faced with a number of crises in his life (Job 1:13-20). Job first lost his sons and daughters, and then he lost his servants and livestock. Yet, through it all, Job did not sin nor did he blame God (Job 1:21-22). Satan then smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, yet Job held fast to his integrity (Job 2:4-10). Some days later, Job spoke out and said of his anxiety, “… my cries pour out like water. For what I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, and I am not at rest, but turmoil comes” (Job 3:24-26 NAS).

Like the outbreak of crises and boils, there is a type of outbreak today that is also spreading around the world. This is the outbreak of worldliness and self-centeredness. Just as a disease outbreak such as cancer can mutate into variations, worldliness and self-centeredness can also lead to fatality and the domino effect of continuing sin, resulting in the eventual death of people around us. Some cancer patients have shared that once they have been diagnosed with the illness, they deem themselves as good as dead. Anxiety then sets in and in their minds they can only think of the doctors as just counting their days.

James in his epistle described the outbreak of worldliness and self-centeredness as the source of quarrels and conflicts that wage war among fellow believers (James 14:1). The root cause of the war is the pleasures, lust, envy, pride, wrong motives, impure heart and double-mindedness of man (James 4:1-10).

Sometimes we may fight and quarrel with others out of envy or lust, and sometimes we may even backstab others—knowingly or unknowingly—just to get what we want. We may at times want the right things for the wrong reasons, and we do not receive them because our motives are impure and self-seeking, desiring only to satisfy our own pleasures.

The Bible states clearly if our involvement with the world becomes too intimate that we participate in its adulterous ways, we make ourselves an enemy of God (James 4:4). We should therefore never be double-minded to think we can serve two masters, for either we will hate one and love the other or we will be devoted to one and despise the other (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13). We should instead be cautious never to be infected or become carriers of worldliness and self-centeredness.

Let us be on the alert always to watch out for symptoms and quickly take steps to avoid or prevent ourselves from succumbing to any outbreak. Submit and draw near to God; resist the devil and temptation. Purify our hearts and come humbly into the presence of God, and He will draw near to us and exalt us (James 4:7-10).

Dear Lord, forgive us for sometimes swaying from trusting You, especially when in times of crises. Do not let us succumb to the outbreak of calamity in our lives Lord. Strengthen us instead that we may hold fast to Your faithfulness. Help us not be double-minded, Lord, but be devoted to You whole-heartedly.

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