Being There in the Crisis

“You’re called to give aid to people in distress.” Ro 12:8 MSG

You say, “It’s not my responsibility. I’m not getting involved!” Psychologists call this “compassionate disengagement,” the tendency to avoid helping someone in trouble. Whether your motivation is inconvenience, self-protection, or indifference, it’s wrong. “Being there” is how you demonstrate your love for God and your neighbor. And helping requires recognizing three kinds of crises: (1) Accidental or situational crises. These involve things like sudden threats to our well-being, disruptive events, unexpected losses, the discovery of a serious illness, the death of a loved one, a family breakdown, the loss of livelihood or security. Job experienced all these events together and wondered why God allowed so many bad things to happen to him. (2) Developmental crises. These occur in the course of everyday life. Moving houses, going away to college, adjusting to marriage, parenting, retirement, aging, declining health, and the loss of friends. Abraham and Sarah moved many times. They also endured years of childlessness and family stress, including the challenge of sacrificing Isaac. (3) Existential crises. These are when we face disturbing truths about ourselves. We may see ourselves as failures, grapple with being divorced or widowed, learn that our illness is incurable, experience rejection because of our race, class, age, or gender, or realize we may be getting too old to fulfill our life goals. True “helpers” understand, get involved, and encourage. They keep their eyes open, and are quick to “give aid to people in distress.”

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