Hello, dear reader. Welcome to this article.
We may not have met, but there is one thing I know about you: your 2020 has sucked.
You have likely experienced, along with much of humanity, crisis after crisis after crisis.
Where I live, our state was first devastated by bushfires, before the fires were replaced with floods... and then we got to March.
In the ten years since then, we’ve seen a global pandemic, with highly restrictive lockdowns, all the while being told we’re inching toward an unprecedented global financial crisis.
We’ve become bedfellows with discouragement and disappointment that we never imagined we’d face.
Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but we better get used to crisis.
It’s coming again.
At the end of 2019 I was at a pastor’s training day where the leader of the session told us that for any group of 50 people, there would be a crisis amongst the group every two weeks.
The question is: how should we face the common human experience of crisis? Whether global, financial, familial, or personal, crisis is coming for each one of us.
Thankfully, we don’t walk in this world alone. The saints of old, and the God who breathed his Scriptures to us through them, provide us with otherwise unattainable wisdom.
Isaiah 7 recounts for us an episode in the life of God’s people that bears such wisdom.
In Isaiah 7, Judah is under attack. Israel, to the north, have joined with Syria and are threatening to take over the southern kingdom. Assyria, the global military power of the day, are on their way from the east. King Ahaz of Judah has a decision to make: who does he side with?
God offers him a sign:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
- Isaiah 7:14
Names mean a lot in the Bible. This name, Immanuel, means ‘God with us’. God was telling Ahaz - and tells you and me through this example - that in the midst of a crisis, when we don’t know where to turn, God is with us.
Unfortunately, Ahaz was more interested in protecting his political base. He sided with Assyria, and his political alliances would later come back to haunt him.
Rather than following Ahaz, the sign God gave to Ahaz points us to someone else. Centuries after this promise and its first fulfilment in 735 BC, God took it to another level:
All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.”
- Matthew 1:22-23
Not satisfied with simply telling us he’s with us, God took on flesh himself to come and dwell with his people. In Jesus, God would go even further, doing all that was needed for us to be with him, forever.
God’s crisis management strategy for Judah and King Ahaz is the same crisis management strategy he has for us today.
God with us.
Whatever you might be going through right now, whatever you certainly will go through in the future, get it into the bones of your faith that God is with you through it all. If this is true, then you can stand. If this is true, you can endure. If this is true, we have hope.
If this is true, you can face the next crisis.
God is with you in Christ.
Nick is the Lead Pastor of City on a Hill Melbourne East. He loves Jesus, is passionate about connecting deep theology with everyday life, and eager to make a difference in the time he has by helping plant as many churches as possible. After Jesus, Nick loves his wife Jules, and his two kids, Axel and Aria. He holds an MDiv from Ridley College, is a member of Acts 29, an ordained Anglican minister and gives too much of his time to fantasy sports.