We are living through a Trilogy crisis.
First, it started with a health crisis the world hasn’t seen in over one hundred years: the global pandemic. Then, we went into a financial crisis and 40 million Americans filed for unemployment. Right after that, George Floyd’s brutal death ignited a racial awareness crisis in our nation. It’s been one crisis, after another crisis, after another. All three hit us hard in a short period of four months. Throughout, I have been asking God, “What are you doing through these crises?”
From the beginning, I could not shake away Joseph's story. Joseph is seventeen years old and he dreams that God is going to use him. It is an influential dream, but he’s not really sure how to handle it. So often, when God gives us a big dream, we are at a loss on what to do. Sometimes, we are too immature to handle the weight of a God-given dream. What does God do with a young man with a dream? He prepares him through a trilogy crisis of his own.
"And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more." Genesis 37:5
Not every God-given dream is going to be welcomed by applause or understood by the masses. Sometimes, God has to prepare us because the weight of a God-given dream is too heavy for our character, capacity and competence to handle.
1. Sometimes we need a crisis to prepare us for the challenge of our calling.
In crisis, God shapes Joseph's character. Joseph discovers leadership skills and gifts he didn’t have before. Sometimes, our greatest self-discovery comes in the darkest of places. This is God's pattern. It is not just isolated to Joseph. The Bible is full of other examples: Moses, Gideon, David, Hannah, and Abraham.
Crisis is shaping and forming our character to prepare us for a time of influence and destiny. We must not forget that through the turmoil, God is always with us.
"The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did." Genesis 39:3
"But the LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison." Genesis 39:21
Just because you are going through trial, heartache, and injustice doesn’t mean that the Lord isn’t with you. God can be preparing and shaping us in the middle of it. God doesn’t promise that we won’t go through hardship, but he does promise that He will go through it with us.
2. We learn the most at the intersection of our greatest trial and God’s strongest presence.
It is when you are in that dark moment that you find that God is there. You sense the presence of God even though your circumstances won't change. During our current trilogy crisis, I felt a daily burden to read the following verses:
"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:4
"He said, 'Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:25
God was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in their darkest moment in the middle of the furnace. They witnessed that God was with them in the fire. They were prepared to believe God for greater things because in their darkest moment they knew the fidelity, the power, and the compassion of our mighty God.
3. At the end of crises, God uses those who have learned lessons and purified their hearts.
"But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them." Genesis 50: 19-20
We as a church, like Joseph, have been in the midst of a trilogy crisis, but I believe there are lessons that God is teaching us. We can get bitter or we can get better. In Joseph's story, I want you to notice that God stirred up a problem in the palace while he created a solution in the prison that opened up the door for a new powerful position. Joseph went on to the most influential season of his life: he saved his family, he saved a nation, influenced people, and prepared for a famine. Why? Because God took Joseph through a crisis where he learned skills and discovered his gifts. God delivered him. God may be preparing us even right now as a church and as a people for our greatest influential season. Not because we went through a crisis but because how we handled it.
Our New Normal
I don’t want to go through this pain and hardship without having learned some powerful lessons as a church. We should never go back to normal. We should walk out of this crisis with a new set of skills, a new gifting, a new passion, a new burden, a new influence in our society. God has taken us into crisis to accelerate our new dream and vision to influence and impact the fabric of this city for the Glory of King Jesus.