The past 18 months of global crisis have taught us many things, but chief among these is a startling revelation regarding the weakness of our response systems. Whether we are looking at the global pandemic, food systems, climate change, or any other point of crisis encountered during this season of extreme pressure, the crisis response systems for most of the world received a poor grade in 2020 and 2021.
“A person’s true character is often revealed in time of crisis or temptation. Make sure that you have what it takes to be your best in such times.” – Dr. Paul TP Wong
Response systems show the true nature, not only of nations and systems but also of individuals. It is the testing in the fires of crisis that bares out what we are, for better or worse. Many seemingly strong and capable people collapse against the weight of crisis. In contrast, others hold steady and surprise even themselves with an internal fortitude that the moment of crisis unveils in the depths of their true nature.
Noah’s Response System
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. And the LORD was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” Genesis 8:20-22 New Living Translation
In the account of Noah in the book of Genesis, we find a man who encountered a scale of crisis unlike anything seen before or since. The end of the world arrived at his doorstep – then washed that doorstep and the house away.
Noah found favor with God. That favor secured grace and safety during the crisis for Noah and his family. But that did not mean the old patriarch went untouched by the crisis. When the world collapses all around you, you feel the impact, even if your life is spared.
In the aftermath of the crisis, as Noah exited the ark, we learn who this man really was. His friends were gone. His family was alone. All that he knew about life was gone. No career. No family farm. No clear plan for the future, and only memories of the past.
Noah could have become bitter. He could have grown frustrated with God, perhaps even angry. He could have faded away into self-pity and a genuine sense of loss. Noah did not do any of these things though.
When Noah exited the ark, he saw the devastation wrought by the crisis all around him. His immediate response was one of humility and the fear of God. The root character of Noah was revealed, and he began offering sacrifices of burnt offerings unto the Lord.
I find the response of God to this action by Noah to be incredibly enlightening. Verse 21 says, “And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice.” Did God really care about the smell of the burnt offerings? I don’t think so. I think God was pleased with the aroma rising from Noah’s heart in those acts of offering and crisis.
Amid crisis, Noah feared God. Amid the pain, Noah honored God. Amid feelings of loneliness and isolation, Noah looked to God. In the shadow of the unknown, Noah worshipped God!
Noah’s heart posture caught God’s attention. The favor of God presented a pathway of salvation and preservation for Noah and his family aboard the ark. But it was the response of Noah in the face of crisis that inspired God to make a covenant with the man (Genesis 9).
We live in a time of increasing crisis. Most of us have already grown numb to events and situations that seemed unimaginable a mere decade ago. Families, individual lives, health, mental stability, and more all face growing daily threats. The favor of God is our refuge and our safe place in the crisis. But our response to the crisis defines who we are and where we go from here.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7 New Living Translation
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