People in Crisis

by James Rudy Gray

People do not plan a crisis. It is typically something that is unexpected and unwanted. It is a time of real or potential danger, loss, threat, hurt, pain, etc. It is also a time when people are usually more open to change than at any other time in their lives. A crisis, then, is also a time of opportunity.
Helping persons who are experiencing a crisis can be a daunting assignment. They are often anxious, nervous, illogical, irrational, emotional, depressive, and even delusional. They need help in order to begin to see their crises as real opportunities for good and healthy change. However, unless they are able to deal with the crises immediately, the opportunity for change will likely be lost.
When individuals are having a crisis, they are in a state of disequilibrium. They have been knocked off balance by a developmental event or a situational occurrence. The first task of helping persons in that state of crisis is to aid them in regaining their equilibrium. They need to get balance back into their lives.
Because God is sovereign, a crisis is limited and there is meaning and purpose in the experience. When Christians have crises, they often need some encouragement to help them relate their crises to the power and character of a sovereign God who does love them. A great example of focusing on God in a time of personal crisis is found in Isaiah 6. Uzziah had reigned during a time of renewal and prosperity. His tenure as king lasted for 52 years. When he died, there was a national crisis. In Isaiah's personal time of crisis, he went to the Temple, knowing there was a crisis of leadership in the land. What he saw was God on His throne. Isaiah's situational crisis was averted through faith in a sovereign God who is Lord over all crises on earth. It was a time of profound change for the prophet.
A crisis is nearly always short-lived, ranging from a few hours to a few days. In rare cases, a crisis may last a few weeks. A crisis often carries with it feelings of being overwhelmed. The person needs the assurance of a calm and steady helper who can comfort him with an honest and caring perspective.
A counselor needs to determine if three basic factors are operating in the person's life: a realistic attitude, good situational support, and adequate coping mechanisms. When those three factors are present, even though they may not be effectively operating, the crisis can be defused. However, when these three basic factors are absent, the crisis will usually escalate.
A practical strategy for helping someone in crisis is:
Analyze the situation in the light of biblical truth.
Evaluate the person's spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical condition-paying particular attention to clues relating to behavior, attitude, and resources.
Follow biblical principles as you provide encouragement, hope, and direction.
Listening to, empathizing with, and praying for the individual is helpful. Working with them to make needed real changes is essential. They need to see the importance and value in connecting with the resources available to them-not the least of which are God's Word, the extended family, friends, and the church.
It may be wise to refer a person in severe crisis to a trained professional. However, if you are involved in helping persons in crisis, the one thing to keep before them is hope. Hope does not disappoint if it is anchored in the truth of God.
2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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