“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
These well known verses are probably the best advice ever given for dealing with trials and difficulties. They contain three tried and true crisis management principles that have helped people through the ages navigate trying times.
1. Believe that beyond this stormy sea, God has a sovereign plan. (“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”) A nationally known teacher by the name of Bill Gothard used to give a chalk talk about the purposes of God. As he taught he would draw a huge landscape picture. At the end of the talk he would turn on a black light revealing an entirely different picture than the one we saw him drawing. To every ones surprise we suddenly saw a cross-shaped bridge leading to what looked like the gates of heaven.
Essentially the light revealed that there were 2 pictures – the one we could see being drawn and one that was hidden carrying the real meaning and purpose of his talk. In tough times, we need to remind ourselves that what we see is not the whole picture. We need to “trust the Lord with all our heart“ that in His timing He will shine His light on our situation and it will reveal His redemptive purposes for us.
2. Focus your faith in believing that God will deliver you and not in figuring out how or when He will deliver you. (“Lean not on you own understanding.”) I’ve found out the hard way that I cannot predict how or when God is going to do the things I am asking Him to do. I’ve learned that as soon as I figure out the answer to my prayer I can cross that off the list because that is one way He certainly will not do it. He warns us not to be wise in our own eyes. (Proverbs 3:7) He is God and we are not.
We need to take seriously the wisdom to not gravitate to or lean on our own understanding. Right before Jesus ascended into heaven His disciples were trying to figure out when He was going to return. He gave them the same advice He would give to us regarding our propensity to want to figure things out. He told them “it is not for you know the times and the seasons the Father has determined by His authority.” (Acts 1:7) And so, in times of trouble, shut your “knower” down and concentrate on trusting that He will deliver you and not on the when and how.
3. Keep a right attitude and that will keep you moving in the right direction. (“In all your ways acknowledge Him.”) It’s been said that our attitude determines our altitude. That is especially true when it comes to facing trying times. Our attitude will either lift us above the churning sea and propel us ahead or drag us down and drown us in conflict. Trying times bring out either the best or the worst in all of us. It is our choice as to how we will respond.
Choosing the best comes through acknowledging Him. When we acknowledge Him in crisis we are enabled to forgive rather than take up an offence. We are under girded to love rather than accuse or hold a grudge. We are empowered to help rather than to hinder. We are graced to give thanks rather than to grumble.
Summary: God promises that when 1) we trust in the Lord with all our heart that He has a sovereign plan, 2) don’t lean on our own understanding trying to figure out the how or when, and 3) keep a right attitude by acknowledging and glorifying Him in all we do; then He will make our path straight and bring us through.
This is a freeing truth. Bottom line, it is not our responsibility to figure out how to get out of a crisis. Rather, we simply need to be the kind of people God can lead out. Deliverance in trying times is much more about keeping a pure heart and being right with God, than knowing and doing the right things. Our job is to guard our hearts – He’ll take care of the rest.