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27. Crisis II

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27

Triumph as We Face Global Tragedy

Crisis II

 

 

In WIN! Wellness book 1, we presented “CRISIS I: From Tragedy to Triumph.” That chapterdealt largely with how we can successfully face personal crisis. In the present chapter, CRISIS II, we emphasize massive global crises.

 

 

 

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Triumph as We Face Global Tragedy

CRISIS II

 

 

 

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Critical crisis

Tucked away in extreme southeastern Tennessee lies an area forgotten by travelers rushing by on today’s American interstate highways.This quaint corner of the Appalachian Mountains lies near the confluence of Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina.It is a land ofrolling mountains just south of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, along with rushing streams ideal for whitewater rafting.This had been Cherokee Indian country from time immemorial, as the names of rivers, lakes, and forests still bear witness. There runs the Hiwassee Scenic River; there lies beautiful Ocoee Lake; and there stands the Chattahoochee National Forest.

 

Around 1843, copper was discovered in the hills.By 1900, the Tennessee Copper Company controlled most of the mining, and business boomed. Copper ore had been dug out from deep mines by hand in the early days, but as the years went by, machinery was added.Since copper is oftentimes found with sulfur in its natural state, the trees were cut down off the hills and the wood used to burn out the sulfur, and then this burned ore was taken to the smelter in the town of Copperhill, where the rest of the sulfur and impurities were removed.Huge mountains of toxic “tailings” were left behind.

 

 

 

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 But something was wrong.

 

 

As the sulfur was burned out of the ore, it belched sulfuric acid into the environment. Trees and vegetation for miles around had died off. This was years before the environmental movement took hold of the public conscience. I remember driving through this region on highway US 64 in the late 1940s. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was like a moonscape! The countryside was carved by eroded gullies. Wildlife had almost vanished. The land was toxic and desolate, and the previously flourishing community had diminished to a few survivors. In the mid-twentieth century, it was a high-level crisis time for land and inhabitants.

 

Slowly, reclamation projects began to reverse the damage. Erosion was to a great degree contained. Black soil was trucked in. Trees were planted. Gardens, lawns, and forests began to return. Sixty-five years later, the wilderness is again blossoming. Restoration has taken place.

 

Our world is like Copperhill on a cosmic scale. Its original state of beauty is described in Genesis 1 and 2. A greedy and rapacious enemy took over, promising progress and prosperity if his plans were followed. What has he delivered?Crisis, sickness, desolation, and death. God looked down past a million galaxies, and there in the western spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy He spied a medium-sized solar system and a fast-sinking world that we call planet Earth.If left to Satan and to itself, the world would perish. Something had to be done. The plan of redemption, kept in silence through eternal ages, was put into immediate operation. God would intervene and contend.

 

 

 

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God would reclaim. God would restore.

 

 

 

 

 

The Bible says: “For we know that the whole creation groans.”[1] “Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed.”[2] Jesus spoke of the time of His glorious return to the earth, saying, “ ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ ”[3]

 

Zeniths and nadirs

 

 

 

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Years ago as a youth, I studied astronomy as my hobby. Although I have not actively pursued it in recent years, I still remember some of the definitions. The zenith is that point in the heavens which is vertically above your head. The nadir, on the other hand, is that point of the celestial sphere directly under the place where you stand. It is the lowest point.

 

In the great controversy between good and evil, humanity has had its nadirs of crisis. There are common denominators in all of these crises, namelymisapprehension of the character of God and a corresponding breakdown of human relationships, combined with natural disasters. Interestingly enough, the nadirs are often immediately followed by zeniths. It is like the law of action and reaction. God permits man to go his own way. He goes down, down, down until it seems he can go no lower. Then like a lightning bolt, God intervenes, bringing man to a zenith of hope.

 

God has His answer to the nadirs of crisis. In the last days He will speak loud and clear by His chosen heralds “and will restore all things.”[4] God will announce a zenith of hope.

 

The daily news brings us stories of disasters and calamities. Traumatic and stressful times are no respecters of persons ortheir wealth, age, or social status. Crises occur around the world, resulting in immeasurable human suffering.The following examples provide evidence of nadirs.

 

Earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear disasters

 

 

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The Bible tells us that one of the signs of the nearness of the second coming of Christ will be earthquakes, with “the sea and the waves roaring.”[1]

 

 

 

 

 

On Friday, March 11, 2011 at 2:46 p.m., a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit the eastern part of Japan. It devastated the land, and the sea responded with unbelievable force, destroying towns and villages. But that is not all: a third disaster brings an even greater fear.The people of the region were in danger of death and catastrophic disease from radiation leaking out of the quake-ravaged Fukushima nuclear power-plant reactors.What could they do to protect themselves from possible radiation?

 

The fear was felt nationwide. Some remembered the past. Horrific nightmare memories surfaced.One person said, “There was enough hardship with the earthquake and tsunami, but fears about the nuclear power plants carry echoes from my early life —Hiroshima, Nagasaki.” The crises escalate!

 

The tsunami caused the most damage, however. An eighty-three-year-old man heard the sirens blasting and jumped on a bike, pedaling fast to escape the coming ocean surge. Another man spent days in an elevator. Three people were rescued from the mud-covered wreckage of a car sixty-twohours after the tsunami. A woman opened the door of her house and was caught in the ravaging waters, but managed to grab onto a nearby tree where she perilously hung on for hours. Another woman floated to safety on top of a mat. Two traumatized dogs survived, although shaking, starving, and mud-covered. The fortunate people lived. Some wonder if it would have been better if they had not survived. One asks, “What have we done to have this come upon us?” Sometimes there seem to be no answers.

 

The recovery and rescue is another crisis—lack of food and water, no electricity in certain locations, no place to bathe. The horrors are many: searching for survivors in the snow;smelling death in the rubble; discovering your own family in the fragments of a home. Finding a family picture in the waste, showing it to other survivors, and asking, “Have you seen them?” A fireman continued serving others, although he had discovered that all his precious family were no more. All these were in a painful crisis.They were survivors. Those not going through such a crisis can only vaguely understand what those people have gone through.

 

Financial crisis

 

 

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The world’s wisest men do not know how to solve our interconnected economic crisis.

 

 

Unemployment, homelessness, and hunger are widespread. Families are losing their homes in foreclosure. The economic forecasts are bleak.This is another example of our world’s nadirs.

 

The crisis of war

 

 

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The Bible foretells that in the last days

you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.[1]

 

 

 

Surely this prophecy has been fulfilled in our day and age. Millions of people around the world are impacted by war.Soldiers die in the prime of life. Refugees flee their homes and are vulnerable to disease.Schools are closed or destroyed, depriving children of an education. Infrastructures of health care, communication, transportation, and food security are destroyed.Regardless of the cause of war, the cost is terrible in terms of human suffering.

 

Children in crisis

 

 

 

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Trafficking in children and sexual exploitation are an increasing crisis worldwide. We all know that the gauge of a society is how it treats its children and its elderly people.

 

 

 

 

One million children enter the sex trade annually: "UNICEF reports that across the world, there are over one million children entering the sex trade every year and that approximately 30 million children have lost their childhood through sexual exploitation over the past 30 years.”[5]

 

Worldwide pandemic of catastrophic diseases—AIDS

The Bible tells us that one of the signs we are in the last days will be pestilence, or disease pandemics. Although in more developed countries mortality rates are being increasingly worsened by degenerative diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, such epidemics as flu and HIV/AIDS are claiming huge tolls on human life in other parts of the world.

 

AIDS is terminal. It is like a plague. With AIDS, one faces aninevitable, irrevocable sentence.

  • HIV and AIDS are two stages of the same disease.
  • HIV is spread by

                  unprotected genital, anal, or oral sex with an infected person

                  having sexual contact with someone of unknown HIV status

                  infected blood from needle sharing

  • More thantwenty-five million people worldwide have died of AIDS.[6]
  • More than thirty-three million are currently infected.[7]
  • Transmission of HIV to babies can be prevented.

     

The case of Marie

 

 

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The story of Marie

 

 

 

Marie, a lovely thirty-eight-year-old, never had sexual contact outside of marriage. Her first husband died of AIDS, and she remarried. Her misfortunes continued when her second husband was killed in an accident, leaving her with his fourteen-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. So now Marie and her stepdaughter, Shelly, lived together. But the crises of their lives only got worse. Years after the death of her first husband to AIDS, Marie discovered that she too was suffering from that dreaded disease.

 

So what do you do when life hands you a sour lemon? Marie decided to make lemonade! Her young stepdaughter needed her, and someday, as hercondition worsened, Mariewould desperately need Shelly. Marie and Shelly made a pact—a covenant—of mutual support. Right now, Marie is giving Shelly a good education and making her a comfortable, loving home with food and the necessities of life.

 

Marie is an activist in the best sense of the word. Every opportunity that she has, she goes to schools, churches, and civic clubs and tells her story. She informs her listeners of the truth about HIV/AIDS and dispels the hundreds of myths that people believe about it. She is a popular lecturer. Marie has written her story in magazines with a wide circulation.

 

Is life easy for Marie? No. She is living under the shadow of a death sentence. Does everyone see things the way Marie sees them? No. Her own mother worries about the stigma of AIDS on the family reputation and was very upset that Marie would identify herself in the widely read article she wrote. But Marie moves ahead. She is an optimistic, positive kind of person. With the time she has left, she will help and encourage others, especially those who face crises similar to hers.

 

A coin has two sides. The day will come when Shelly will be caring for terminally ill Marie. Even now, when you see them together, Shelly, offering an enabling hand, is there to keep her adopted mom from falling. In the end, life is not decided by the crisis we face but how we face the crisis. Marie interprets her illness with AIDS as an opportunity to help others.

 

Facing death in faraway lands

 

 

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Gary’s life was turned upside down.

 

 

Gary and Bonnie Witherall went as missionaries to Sidon in southern Lebanon, where she was murdered as she attended to pregnant Palestinian refugee women in a clinic. His dearest earthly possession was gone! He would never again feel Bonnie’s loving touch. He was in crisis. It was devastating to see his wife’s blood on the clinic floor, yet he sensed an unspeakable presence of God in his life.

 

At the funeral, the press and television from around the world gathered and asked Gary how he felt about the ones who killed his wife. They were amazed to find that Gary forgave them. It wasn’t easy for him to fly back home in a plane carrying Bonnie’s coffin, leaving almost everything behind. Yet he felt marvelously supported by friends, coworkers, and the Lebanese people.

 

It wasn’t the story that Gary had expected for his life. But the whole world was moved during the following days as television and newspapers told of missionaries who gave all and who loved their persecutors. And someday, on the other shore, Gary will be reunited with his beloved Bonnie. That will be the real end of the story.

 

David and Linda lose their son

 

 

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David and Linda’s (unfinished) story

 

 

David and Linda faced a crisis that was just as devastating as was Marie’s and Gary’s. On a Thursday night, their seventeen-year-old son, Jim, was killed when his pickup truck failed to negotiate a curve. Their pain was excruciating. One recurring question bothered them during their grief recovery time. Where was their son, Jim, now?

 

Many were saying, “He’s in heaven,” “He’s in purgatory,” “He’s burning in hell,” “He’s gone forever.” David and Linda were very confused. Where was their son?

 

Then someone suggested, “Go to the Bible and see what it says.” That is exactly what they did. They began to read the Bible and made a big discovery.What did the Bible tell them about their departed loved one? To their surprise they found that the Bible describes death as a sleep, and that their son would remain in the grave without consciousness until the day of the resurrection.

 

 

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When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, He said, “ ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’ . . . Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.’ ”[8]He said that the dead will sleep and not awaken until His second coming: “For the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”[9]

 

 

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David and Linda found Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6: “The living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing . . . their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished.”

 

 

In Psalm 146:4 (KJV) they read: “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”

 

This was all new to the grieving parents, David and Linda, but was a great consolation to them.Their sonwas not watching from heaven, looking at their grief and problems on earth. He was not suffering eternal torment in hell or even temporary torment in purgatory. Jim was sleeping. This new knowledge comforted them. Now they felt they could pull their own lives together and go on, because there was light at the end of the tunnel. The Bible made it perfectly clear to them that when Jesus comes, He will call their son. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.And the dead in Christ will rise first.”[10] They would see their Jim again. Their nadir of tears would be followed by a zenith of restoration.

 

 

 

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Like David and Linda, we too may suffer pain in crises not of our making.But the One who triumphed in the crisis of the ages is there to strengthen us and guarantee personal and global victory.

 

Future crises are coming.How we handle today’s crisis will prepare us to face even greater future crisis.

 

From cosmic Copperhill to coming King

Today we have evidence that our world is in a nadir. There is global crisis. The outlook is bleak, but the uplook is full of hope.A zenith will soon occur.When Jesus Christ comes, He will restore the world that He created.

 

In order to survive the crisis, we need to see light at the end of the tunnel.We need to have a hope that points to something better awaiting us beyond the trauma. The Bible foretells that “times of refreshing” will “come from the presence of the Lord” and that the Father will “send Jesus Christ” and there will be “times of restoration of all things.” But in order to be ready, we need to “repent therefore and be converted” so that our “sins may be blotted out.”[11]

 

There is great news!Soon Jesus will pronounce: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. . . . ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ ”[12]

 

 

 

 

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The Bible tells us about future crisis. It is imperative that we study the Bible carefully

so that we and our families will not be deceived by our adversary Satan, nor by popular opinion.

 

You have your story, and I have mine, of how we have been rescued from crisis after crisis. But the greatest story ever told is how Jesus, by His death, won the war against Satan and earned the right to write the conclusion of this earth’s history. The world is aCopperhill, but it will be restored to the beauty of the Garden of Eden. Jesus created Eden, and He initiated the restoration of the world when Satan the adversary brought blight and death. Jesuspaid the ultimate sacrifice to win the war against Satan. We are the heralds to prepare the way for the coming King. Very soon He will return for His waiting children, resurrect the dead ones to life, and restore us and planet Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

At this moment, do you want to look beyond the trauma of today’s global and personal crises and accept triumph in this life and for eternal ages through the victory of Christ for you? He freely offers it to you. Do you want to move from the nadir of crisis to the zenith of restoration?

 

 

PowerPoint©Slide 17   Prayer

Lord, all of us are in a crisis. I am in crisis because I live in a world filled with pain and suffering, sickness, and death. Thank You that on Calvary You experienced a crisis for my sake. In Your crisis, Lord, You moved from tragedy to triumph, and right now You are inviting me to accept Your triumph. I have decided to move from the nadir of earth’s prospects to the zenith of total restoration. Thank You that “I know the end to the story.” In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PowerPoint©Slide 18Reflect/Discuss

  1. What is God saying to you about present and future crises?
  2. What are your plans for present and future end-time crises?
  3. What is God calling you to do to help individuals in present and end-time crises?Are you willing to serve or be served?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Personal Reflections

  1. How am I personally preparing myself spiritually, physically, and materially for future crises?

Would it be wise for me to own a place in the country where I could be more protected and have garden produce when circumstances become difficult?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Intentionality

___I will ask God for wisdom to help me handle today’s crises and end-time crises.

___I will study about survival and start my survival plans for future crises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Triumph as We Face Global Tragedy

CRISIS II

 

 

 

 

 



[1]. Romans 8:22.

[2]. Psalms 102:25, 26.

[3]. Revelation 21:5.

[4]. Matthew 17:11.

[5]. Commercial sexual exploitation position statement. UNICEF UK. 2004, January 28. (enough.org/inside.php?id=2uxkjwry8)  See also http://carm.org/collateral-moral-decay.

[6]. “Global Statistics: The Global HIV/AIDS crisis today,” US Department of Health and Human Services,  June 20, 2011, http://aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/hiv-aids-101/overview/global-statistics/.

[7]. Ibid.

[8].  John 11:11, 14.

[9]. John 5:28–29.

[10]. 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

[11]. Acts 3:19–21.

[12]. Revelation 21:4, 5, emphasis supplied.

 

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