(Following is an excerpt from my current article on Boundless...)
It's not easy to follow our national news these days. There's a free-floating sense of dread in these reports: Will the various bailouts work? How can we afford them? Will the economy recover — or collapse entirely? How many jobs will be lost before we hit bottom? Whose will be among them?
Peppered among the higher-profile financial stories are reports of increased opposition to Christian activity or beliefs. A pastor is arrested for praying outside an abortion clinic. A military chaplain is not allowed to pray in the name of Jesus. A little girl is reprimanded for talking about her pro-life beliefs in class. A church service is interrupted by obscene protesters.
At first glance, these kinds of reports may not seem to be related. But both lead to some kind of loss — loss of fortune or loss of freedom. Faced with the possibility of loss in either category, believing Christians can panic ... or we can prepare.
Preparing for difficulties might seem odd, but it is a biblical concept (Luke 21:34-36). Throughout history and even in many nations today, Christians face loss and persecution for their beliefs. American Christianity's recent history of prosperity and comfort may be the exception, not the rule. In fact, the apostle Paul warned Timothy that "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim. 3:12). As theologian Iain Duguid notes:
Believers around the world know this from experience, yet here in the prosperous and supposedly tolerant West we have come to expect our lives as Christians to run smoothly and successfully, at least if we are faithfully following the Lord. We think that the slogan "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" means that our lives should be protected by God from any form of unpleasantness. This is a false belief, however. Persecution comes to us in a variety of forms and from a variety of directions, yet it is something that we should expect constantly to mark out our lives in a fallen world. It may come in the form of mockery and isolation at school, or conflict or trouble at work, or simply being regarded as peculiar and strange people, but one way or another we should expect to suffer abuse for the sake of Christ.1
I've heard many wise pastors say that the time to prepare for a crisis is before it happens. When faced with a sobering diagnosis, the loss of a job, the rejection of an unbelieving friend, the criticism of a non-Christian culture — these are not the times you want to dig deep into your faith only to discover shallow roots.
Crisis management is not the time to do an in-depth study on God's character, lovingkindness, and sovereignty over our lives. You have to have that kind of knowledge ready on tap for the day of crisis.
The Roots of Endurance
Many believers who have gone before us have done this kind of preparation by studying God's Word in depth before trouble comes. They rooted themselves and their families in the biblical essentials in order to stand fast and endure to the end. They steeped themselves in God's perspective and promises so that no one would say of them, "Oh, ye of little faith."
I particularly like how Reformation activist Martin Luther prepared his wife for widowhood. Not only did he make financial arrangements for her, he also tended to her soul.
[Read the rest of "Crisis Prep 101" on Boundless.org.]