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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

Facing a Crisis

"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil."

Ephesians 5:15-16 (NKJV)



Two thousand years ago the apostle Paul alerted the believers in Ephesus about the times the church was facing. "Evil days" is an expression that can be unfolded like this: in these times there is much wickedness, there is a widespread and arrogant presence of evil. It will not be difficult to assume that today is worse than then. The Greek word (poneraí, "bad") also indicates heaviness, difficulty, suffering: so these are times that make believers suffer, put them in crisis. In fact, everywhere you turn there is a crisis. Individuals, couples, families, communities, societies, governments, sports teams in crisis. It is a time of crisis for everyone a bit: small and big, strong and weak, beautiful and ugly.... Even today, who knows how many are in crisis. I too am in crisis, and maybe you are too. Paraphrasing a text from the Gospel, one could say how each day has its affliction, each has its crisis (existential, relational, spiritual, ecclesial).


The term crisis originates from the Latin "crisis" (Greek krísis) which means "choice," "decision," "separation," "sifting": a crisis sifts, tests, sifts. Probably the crisis we are experiencing will bring us to a choice or decision that we have been putting off until now. A crisis is like a disturbance, a sudden and unexpected change in what was going normally, or already struggling, with more or less severe and lasting effects. I am reminded of Joseph when he learned of Mary's pregnancy and was considering leaving her secretly so as not to expose her to infamy. "But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream ..." (Matthew 1:20). He was reflecting as he was in crisis; he was conflicted about what to do. Similarly, Anna had an inner struggle, embittered by the burden of not feeling fulfilled as a woman in the presence of her rival Peninna who was "in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish" (1Samuel 1:10). He had been in crisis for a long time now. We would also be reminded of Elijah, who under the weight of an unexpected threat "went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die" (1 Kings 19:4). Their stories tell us that a change, a turning point, followed from that situation.


Crisis is essential to growth. It is not an unfortunate accident, but a necessary moment of passage in a person's becoming, in our growth and/or life journey. Crisis brings us out of the usual, out of the reassuring, and forces us to become aware of reality; to break out of the arrangements we had given ourselves that gave us security. It forces us to rethink our position. The nodal point underlying the crisis is to listen to it, to allow ourselves to be challenged by it. In the second instance, the crisis requires us to manage it, that is, how to allow it to work in and on us. It is not a matter of avoiding it or removing it, but of processing it. The individual who is in crisis feels a strong sense of loss, is troubled and insecure, lacks lucidity: we remember Elijah asking to die. The longer the crisis, the greater the discomfort experienced. A strong crisis leaves its mark. The Bible itself, God's word, puts us in crisis by questioning us, revealing the distance between our thoughts, our ways, and God's thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8). The writer to the Hebrews reminds us how it sees reality from another angle by penetrating "even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (4:12).


In the crisis we must make the Word resound. In the waiting we must be resilient, like Job, like Jeremiah, because the crisis is a test of perseverance, faithfulness and patience. From all this, the letter to the Ephesians does not call us to flight or disengagement, but to engage by going against the current, to engage by taking on the form and mindset of the resister: "Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17). The time of crisis is a time for action. If the wicked are at work, as believers we cannot stand by and watch. An effort of discernment is needed to be guided by what pleases the Lord. It is time more than ever to be vigilant, to be alert, to be clear-headed. In fact, Ephesians says, the time of crisis is an opportunity to live wisely. If you are going through a crisis, ask God for wisdom!



 

Weekly Bible Reading Plan # 06

February 05, Exodus 36-38; Matthew 23:1-22          

February 06, Exodus 39-40; Matthew 23:23-39

February 07, Leviticus 1-3; Matthew 24:1-28

February 08, Leviticus 4-5; Matthew 24:29-51

February 09, Leviticus 6-7; Matthew 25:1-30

February 10, Leviticus 8-10; Matthew 25:31-46

February 11, Leviticus 11-12; Matthew 26:1-25


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