With over 2.6 million global deaths caused by COVID-19 between December 2019 and March 2021,¹ we can safely say that this was an unprecedented global crisis. We would like to encourage you with the series entitled “How to overcome crises?” and this special programme “Overcoming crises by faith” that we broadcast last year. May your faith be built as you watch the video and read this article!
Life does not come without its challenges. We all face crises one time or another. How do we overcome the crises of life? Life is a process of resolution of successive problems and the more adept we are at doing this, the more easily we will overcome crises.
The first thing in overcoming crises as a believer is faith. In Acts 27 we find a situation in which the Apostle Paul is confronted with a major crisis. He is in a storm and we know that very often storms are used as a symbol of the challenges and the difficulties of life. He however is in a physical storm and he overcomes this crisis by faith.
You know the Word of God is very strong on the fact that our faith is required for us to live victorious lives. It is by faith that we receive our salvation; but walking through life we need, in different situations of life, to manifest and express faith. And the fact of believing God will lead us to take action that will enable us to overcome crises.
There are things that we do that we should not do because our hearts have failed us because we are discouraged. I want to challenge someone today that you will overcome by faith whatever crisis you are facing in your life and this current COVID-19 crisis. You will overcome – believe God !
The Bible says in Acts 27:9 -20,
9 By now much time had passed, and the voyage was already dangerous. Since the Fast was already over, Paul gave his advice 10 and told them, “Men, I can see that this voyage is headed toward damage and heavy loss, not only of the cargo and the ship but also of our lives.” 11 But the centurion paid attention to the captain and the owner of the ship rather than to what Paul said. 12 Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided to set sail from there, hoping somehow to reach Phoenix, a harbor on Crete open to the southwest and northwest, and to winter there. 13 When a gentle south wind sprang up, they thought they had achieved their purpose. They weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. 14 But not long afterward, a fierce wind called the “northeaster” rushed down from the island. 15 Since the ship was caught and was unable to head into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 After running under the shelter of a little island called Cauda, we were barely able to get control of the skiff. 17 After hoisting it up, they used ropes and tackle and girded the ship. Then, fearing they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the drift-anchor, and in this way they were driven along. 18 Because we were being severely battered by the storm, they began to jettison the cargo the next day. 19 On the third day, they threw the ship’s gear overboard with their own hands. 20 For many days neither sun nor stars appeared, and the severe storm kept raging. Finally all hope that we would be saved was disappearing.
What we see here is a situation of desperation. This is not an allegory, it is something that actually happened to the Apostle Paul and it was a physical storm! But I want you to picture the situation today. You are not in a physical storm; you may be in a figurative storm, in what we call the storms of life. And many people in the world today are in that situation with this wretched epidemic and this miserable virus that has held the whole world hostage. Many people feel like they are in the midst of a storm and they do not see a way out. They are terrified and they are wondering what to do. I want to encourage you today to believe God that you are coming out of this and that there will be an end to every crisis of your life and an end to the COVID-19 crisis. You will come out strong and powerful irrespective of the circumstances around you. The circumstances were dire for the Apostle Paul and those onboard the ship – no hope of salvation, and the severe storm kept raging. Yet the Apostle Paul overcame this crisis by faith.
What are the lessons we can learn from the Apostle Paul that we need to overcome the crises of our lives ?
1. An understanding of who God is
The Apostle Paul understood who God was. The knowledge that you have of God is essential to your ability to believe Him. It seems like a tautology but it’s the reality.
Many of us don’t know the Lord enough and yet we want to claim that we are walking by faith. But faith in whom?! We don’t have faith in faith, we have faith in a person! We trust Him. The Apostle Paul said he believed God. You believe God, but who is this God? How well do you know Him? Who is the God you belong to? Some generic deity out there is not going to help you! You will have no confidence when trouble comes for those that do not know the Lord Jesus Christ. They may say, ‘well, I just believe in a higher power.’ No higher power will give you confidence when trouble comes, because you have no assurance that that higher power will intervene on your behalf ! But when you serve the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, and you have a personal relationship with Him, you know that you can trust Him! He is a trustworthy person. That’s why Paul was more impressed by God more than his circumstances. In fact, he was totally unimpressed by his circumstances! And when the angel showed up , the angel compounded matters by saying ‘do not be afraid!’ God sees you in the storm and says ‘do not be afraid.’ That’s awesome !
2. An understanding of one’s purpose
The Apostle Paul understood his purpose. He knew what he was supposed to do because he previously had an encounter with Jesus who had told him, ‘I will rescue you from the people and from the Gentiles. I now send you to them to open their eyes’ (Acts 26:17-18). So the Apostle Paul must have had this in mind, ‘Jesus said he would rescue me, so He will rescue me ! And if the time comes for me to die, He will tell me. In so far as He has not told me that my time has not come for me to die, I have a purpose and work to do!’ In Acts 26:16, Jesus said to the Apostle Paul, ‘I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness of what you have seen and of what I will reveal to you.’
So the Apostle Paul knew that he had a purpose to fulfill. You have a purpose to fulfill and you must say, ‘ I will not die. I have work to do for God on the earth!’ Now if all you want to do on earth is sleep and eat, and have a good time, then you may have a problem! But your purpose is to do the will of the Father on the earth. And in so far as that will is not done, say, ‘I will not die!’
3. An understanding of the power of God
The Apostle Paul understood the power of God. He stood before King Agrippa and said, ‘to this very day, I have obtained help that comes from God (Acts 26:22). So he had an experience of being helped by God. That is one of the reasons why you must be grateful and thankful because when you are thankful you keep in mind the good things God has done for you. Therefore you have a consciousness inside of you of the goodness of God, the power of God and the delivering capacity of God. And you will be able to say like the Apostle Paul, ‘he has helped me…I have obtained help that comes from God.’
And so the memory of all the times that God has helped you will sustain you in the next crisis. It will empower you to walk by faith. It is like David when he stood before Goliath, and said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine (1 Samuel 17:37). So it’s important for us to keep our minds on the good things God has done in the past.
Don’t focus on the crisis, focus on the victories you have experienced in Christ!
Focus on how He has helped you, how He has sustained you. Think of all the situations He has brought you out of; how He has given you the ability to continue going forward inspite of the challenges of life. Say, ‘the Lord who delivered me from the lion and the bear will deliver me from this crisis also!’
I want to let you know that God has helped you. You are where you are today because He has helped you. He has helped you in the past, He will help you yet again. That will build your faith and you will have confidence.
4. A vision of the future
The Apostle Paul had a vision of the future. The angel came and told him not to be afraid and that he would stand before Caesar. In other words there is a post COVID-19. Something more is going to happen in your life after this! Your life is not going to end here! This is just a challenge and a storm; it is a difficulty but there is an after! Now if the Apostle Paul is going to stand before Caesar that means he is not going to die in the storm!
Can I announce to somebody today that you are not going to die in this storm? You are not going to be depressed in this storm. You are not going to be overcome by this storm. You will stand before Caesar! There is a before and there will be an after. Your life is not going to end here. So believe God. Stand and believe God. When people ask what you are going to do, tell them, ‘I believe God !’ When they ask how you are gong to make it, tell them, ‘I believe God !’Beloved, believe God!
¹ Source: World Health Organization: www.who.int