What To Do After A Spiritual Crisis
This is a follow-up to the previous post of “What To Do Before and During a Spiritual Crisis”. Before an attack, it is advantageous to be prepared and fortified. Once the battle has begun, it is difficult to build up strength and resistance against the attacker. It is preferable and far more effective to already be strong, secure, resolute and rooted in the Lord when the assault occurs.
Also, during a crisis, it is much easier to remain focused and diligent if you have already established spiritual disciplines and are practicing them regularly. It is not easy to create a godly habit when you are already in the midst of the fight. When things are calm some people use that time to relax. They let down their guard, a little. Quite often, these times of calm can be used to build faith and endurance. Increase study, prayer, discipline and meditation of the Word of God when there is no present urgency.
Acts 19 recounts a spiritual crisis for Paul and the other believers in the city of Ephesus. This fiasco was initiated by one man, Demetrius. Never think that one person can’t make a difference. The church at Ephesus had started with about twelve men (Acts 19:1-7). Paul remained in that region for two years (Acts 19:10). Paul’s reputation as a man of God grew. Even an evil spirit testified of Paul’s renown in the spirit realm (Acts 19:15). This testimony concerning Paul and his influence and power (Acts 19:11-12) became so widespread that some folks became nervous, angry and agitated. Demetrius was one of those people.
He was a craftsman who made idols and called them gods. He and others had become wealthy through this vocation. Demetrius and those who did similar work were fearful that their businesses and incomes would dry up because of Paul’s teaching and preaching (Acts 19:26-27). The Bible describes the effect of Paul’s ministry like this:
Acts 19:20,23 AMP
Thus the Word of the Lord [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] grew and spread and intensified, prevailing mightily.
But as time went on, there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way [of the Lord].
This Demetrius raised such a ruckus and incited the people into a chaotic frenzy. So much so that the entire city of Ephesus was filled with confusion. (Acts 19:29) The emboldened mob all rushed together and dragged with them two of Paul’s ministry companions. They erupted into an unruly assembly in the amphitheater. Paul wanted to join the group in an effort to bring some order and wisdom to the situation. But because the wrath of the crowd was so intense his friends urged him to stay out of the mix. The out-of-control mob carried on with shouts and chants and madness for about two hours. (Acts 19:34) Finally, a town clerk was able to settle the crazed crowd and dismissed the assembly.
We know that once something like this is stirred up, life does not just return to normal. People’s minds are stirred to exhaustion. Their hearts are troubled. The entire atmosphere is charged with doubt, anxiety, fear and anger.
Intentional steps need to be taken in order to bring people back to a place of peace. The effects of spiritual trauma, just like any other trauma, do not just go away. Processes need to be employed to restore calmness, assurance and strength. Trauma attacks and often destroys confidence and faith. People’s hearts, minds and spirits need to be settled. The Truth of God’s Word must be reaffirmed to them and in them. Godly focus must be restored.
Acts 20:1 is an example by Paul of a Nine-Step Process for restoring order, confidence and stability. This is an excellent guide to follow in the aftermath of any chaotic or traumatic event. Some may use this as a guide to restore fellowship among the body of believers. Others have suffered brokenness in their natural families and may use this to bring members back to wholeness. We are living in a time where life as we knew it is uncertain. We have and are experiencing things that have not taken place before in our lifetime. The Bible lets us know that before the Lord Jesus returns there will be many more instances of insanity among the people. Plagues, killings, shortages of goods and services are all quite likely to continue and increase. Be ready. Be prepared to restore whatever group you are called and equipped to help. Arm yourself with God’s wisdom and peace so you can share the same with others.
This is Paul’s Nine-Step Recovery Process according to Acts 20:1 AMP.
After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples and warned and consoled and urged and encouraged them; then he embraced them and told them farewell and set forth on his journey to Macedonia.
Step 1 - “After the uproar had ceased…” Wait until the disturbance is over before trying to restore order and peace. People will not be able to hear effectively if chaos is still swirling and twirling and charging the atmosphere. They will not be able to receive instructions or implement them. (Proverbs 11:14)
Step 2 - “...Paul sent for the disciples…” Gather the people together. There is strength and safety in numbers. There is wisdom in sharing the same message of peace and safety to all the people at the same time. People benefit from seeing that they are not alone. Their confidence in God, themselves and the future is bolstered when His truth and promises are reiterated in a group setting. (Hebrews 10:25) People need to be reminded that they are a part of a thriving, vibrant community that has the ability, through God, to prosper in any circumstance.
Step 3 - “...and warned…” Don’t sugarcoat the severity of what has happened. Acknowledge and validate their sufferings. Be realistic about the dangers and deceptions. Informed people are powerful people. (Hosea 4:6) Admonish them to arm themselves with spiritual weapons. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Step 4 - “...and consoled…” Don’t leave them with the bad news. Fear paralyzes and impairs the senses both spiritually and naturally. Comfort the people. Remind them that God is for us! Therefore, no one can successfully overcome us. (John 14:27) We are the righteousness of God. He is our Redeemer, Protector and Provider!
Step 5 - “...and urged…” Paul persisted in earnestly advising them to stay on course. To be alert, aware and committed to the cause of Christ. Be diligent in persuading the listeners to remain faithful to what they have learned, seen, heard and believed in the Lord. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Step 6 - “...and encouraged…” Remind them to be steadfast in the faith. When faith is challenged, that is no time to let go. Share the sure promises of God. Rehearse in their hearing that the Lord never loses. He does all things well! His timing and methods are perfect. There is no one greater than Him! (John 16:33)
Step 7 - “...then he embraced them…” Actively demonstrate your love and care for them. You have reminded them of God’s love. Now show them your love. Don’t act like you are a separate entity who has not been touched or affected by the tragedies. Let them know that you share in their purpose (their future and destiny), their passion (what they care about), and their pain (where they are hurting). Demonstrate your concern. Let them know that you are invested in their well-being.
Step 8 - “...and told them farewell…” This is probably the most difficult part. Know when to let go of their hands. It is vital that they train or retrain themselves to keep walking and recovering without your immediate guidance. Allow them to mature and to regain or gain their strength in the Lord. It is vital that they rely and depend on the Lord and not on church leadership only. (John 16:4, 17)
Step 9 - “...and set forth on his journey…” Don’t lose sight of what the Lord has called you to do. While helping others, don’t allow their trials or troubles to interfere with the timetable and mission that God has for you. (Acts 20:16) Some have missed the timing and temperature of the Lord. “Timing” because they have stayed in a place physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually for two years when they were only supposed to be there two days. “Temperature” of where the Lord wants us to be may not be exactly where we want it to be. So we are constantly either trying to change the temperature or move to a different location. This journey is not about your comfort. It’s about your purpose.
Your continued presence in a place where you are no longer supposed to be will hinder the creativity of others. Their development and maturity will be adversely affected. The direction they are supposed to be going will be off and/or delayed.
A little white in red paint makes the color pink. The intensity and the impact of the red are greatly reduced by the white. A little blue in red paint makes the color purple. White paint and blue paint are good. But if the Lord’s plan is for red, the presence of the other colors interferes with God’s plan. It distorts the perceived purpose and alters the entire complexion of the ministry, corporation or household.
Know when it is time to move on and do so. Delayed obedience is disobedience. People cannot be their authentic selves if you are in their midst longer than you are supposed to be. Paul knew when to depart and so should we. Don't allow sentiment or tradition to outweigh hearing and obeying the voice of the Lord in your life and spirit.
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