NOTE: Both my husband Norman and our Pastor, Dr. David Clear encouraged me to write this article in response to several questions regarding what to do when there has been upheaval in the ministry. This is written mainly for those who are wondering how to help.
Have you ever read a description from a survivor of an explosion? Soldiers in battle are very familiar with this experience, as they are frequently faced with the possibility of stepping on land mines or having a grenade tossed their way. Consider this description of a grenade explosion (collected from several articles, edited for general audiences):
- Shrapnel (pieces of metal, glass, or flying debris) from a fragmentation grenade would be driven with a piercing force into the body at an enormous rate of speed. The heat from this explosion would be felt almost immediately. Soon, the severe burning sensation changes to coldness, particularly as shock sets in. The closer a person is to an explosion, the greater the harm...
Bad news is like an explosion; immediately painful and abruptly shocking, knocking people off their feet. The cold numbness it leaves behind is a side-effect that takes time to resolve. Explosions in the ministry have been happening for years now, and are a sad reminder of our perilous times.
What can a Christian do after something has happened to cause the earth to feel like it is crumbling underneath their feet? What can we do when tragedy strikes, leaving us dazed and wounded? There are some things that we can do:
1. Turn up the prayer to the maximum level. Walk around praying, sit down and pray, kneel and pray, fall asleep with prayer on your lips, wake up and pray, and pray as if you were the only one on duty! "Pray without ceasing." (I Thess. 5:17) Make a list of the names of everyone you can think of, then pray for them specifically. Pray for everyone involved. We will never pray too much, and God will never get tired of hearing from us.
2. Offer to help. If you are close to the situation and able to help from the inside, help with actions and few words. People in shock need reassurance that God has not abandoned them, that they will be all right, and that not one item of Scripture has been changed by the temporary upheaval. Be consistently loving and steadfastly reassuring. Don't be surprised if you can't find the words to say. Just be there. "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." (Prov. 17:17)
If you would like to help in some other way, administer good wherever you can. Any good deed done to hurting people will make a difference. Just be sure to keep your motives pure. Nobody needs an "ambulance chaser" after a crisis, but a person whose desire is to deliver aid is a welcomed relief. "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men." (Titus 3:8)
3. Do not panic! Bad news is not the end of the world; even though it may change the face of a ministry or a family. "Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken." (Prov. 3:25-26) Remain calm in the face of all the billowing smoke and crumbling structures. As many a Grandmother used to say, "This too, shall pass."
4. Stay on track for the Lord. Stay in church, and maintain your Bible study and prayer habits as close to normal as possible. Hand out extra tracts. Be especially kind to strangers, never knowing which one may be your next soul winning opportunity. People may change, and situations may seem utterly devastating, but our job description of "laborers" doesn't change. Even after an explosion, we still have work to do. "Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray he therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest." (Matt. 9:37-38)
5. Recycle good news. There is a sickening tendency to keep bad news alive by discussing and analyzing situations over and over again. This has been made easier by today's technology, but what good does it do? The focus should be on repair; not on rehashing. "A talebearer (scandal-monger) revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter." (Prov. 11:13) We have seen fallen soldiers before, and their pain is not entertaining. Go back to item number one (prayer) and practice it earnestly, fervently, and diligently. Do not fan the destructive flames of gossip by participating in useless discussions about "what happened."
Consider this closing piece of related advice for How to Survive an Explosion from eHow.com*:
- "Remain in a covered position throughout the initial blast, and expect to experience a momentary loss of breath, as a great deal of oxygen may be displaced, varying in intensity by the force of the explosion." (eHow contributor, 2078042)
Staying in the Word and in prayer is a way of remaining "in a covered position." Of course, if you were at the "epicenter" of the explosion, you have taken a direct hit and will need time to heal. It is unlikely that someone who has been directly hurt by a scandal is reading something like this article, but in case you are, realize that the force of the blast will leave you feeling painfully dazed and disoriented for some time to come. Your heart may even literally ache as you process everything that has changed in your life in a virtual moment of time. The Lord knows your pain, and will comfort you like never before. "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." (Psa. 23:4) As soon as possible, seek godly counsel and allow someone to help you.
Explosions often leave many wounded, but they also have a tendency to bring out the morbid spectators with their armchair observations and opinions. Once an explosion has happened, running around and talking about how big it was accomplishes absolutely nothing. Run to the Lord and cry out to Him, but say very little about the catastrophe to others. People have been hurt, and they are in breathless shock after the force of a life-altering explosion. As the wounded are uncovering their heads and trying to figure out what happened, they need our help, not our opinions.
"The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses." (25:17)
*Keep the Heart does not endorse everything found at eHow.com. The source was cited for crediting purposes only.