We don’t like to think of the worst, although we prepare for it all the time. What’s insurance, if not planning for a worst-case scenario? We make wills and living trusts to ensure that, should something terrible happen, our loved ones are provided for and—almost as important—know that they’ve been cared for.
But practical preparations are one thing. How will you react if the time ever actually comes? Who will you be? Let’s say you are the victim of some appalling loss of property. A fire sweeps through your house, taking all of your possessions with it. Your family, pets, yourself—you’re all fine, perfectly unharmed. But everything that you own is gone. Your home is burned to the ground…and the temptation is to feel like your whole lives have been burned to the ground along with it. So what do you do? Imagine how you might feel.
In situations such as this, archetypal roles come to the surface. Stripped back to your core values, your identity in crisis reveals itself. In this case, the desire to nurture and protect, the role of a loving parent. You would take on the aspect of the Provider—calling up the Father in you, you would comfort your family, assure them that everything is going to be alright, get them to somewhere warm and safe, begin making plans to rebuild your lives, lay the foundations for a new home.
Thankfully most of us will never have to endure something as crushing as the loss of a home. But the principle holds true in every single situation we’re confronted with. Every crisis, large or small, affords us an opportunity to demonstrate who we are, and who we intend to be. The crisis itself could arise from any number of factors. There may be someone or something culpable—a perpetrator, a corporation, bureaucracy, illness, freak weather conditions—that you can point to and say: That. That caused this to happen. So many things can happen to us and to the people close to us that are outside of our control, where we have no agency, no choice in the matter. But we own our reactions to the crisis. No one else is to blame but us for how we respond, and the character we reveal when we do so.
We are defined by who we show ourselves to be on a daily basis, not just in extremis. For every situation, every stressor in our lives, we are faced with a choice. We can demonstrate to our families and friends (and to ourselves) whether we draw upon our identity in Christ, or whether we draw upon our identity in the world. Christ doesn’t care about blame. He cares about responsibility. Blame and responsibility are such similar words, but with such a difference in interpretation.
It’s a terrible temptation to attribute blame. It’s the world’s kneejerk reaction in times of crisis, even when the cause of that crisis is arbitrary and unfair—because the world tells us that there must always be someone held to account. The world tells us that it is unfair that life can be unfair, and that someone must always be held to blame for the bad things that happen. Rage, the desire to lash back at someone or something…the world tells us that this is the appropriate first response to crisis.
But Jesus has never been interested in blame. Our identity in Christ is about responsibility, and where blame is about anger and a need for vengeance, responsibility is about compassion and understanding. Compassion for those affected by crisis, and understanding of the cause and effect involved. Blame lashes out, and responsibility gathers close. It’s the difference between a petulant child and a loving parent.
Jesus is the same towards us yesterday, today and forever. Every crisis for us is a crisis for Him…but His love for us is unchanging. He doesn’t love us according to our performance, whether we react badly, inconsistently, in maturity or immaturity. Christ is utterly consistent in His compassion and understanding with us, as befits a loving parent. When we call upon our identity in Christ to deal with crisis, we call upon that compassion and understanding, and we call upon the Father within us, without recrimination or wasted rage. So when the worst happens, take a step back and think. Who do you want to be?