Christians in the Midst of Crisis

Christians in the Midst of Crisis

Pastor Don Carpenter / General

Mission; Mercy and Compassion; Comfort / 1 Thessalonians 5:14

As calls to crisis hotlines spike amid the coronavirus, those who respond feel the strain

Suzanne Hirt

USA TODAY NETWORK

June 15, 2020

Thousands of anxious, stressed, isolated and uncertain callers are flooding helplines nationwide. They are teenagers and senior citizens. They have lost jobs, homes and relatives. Some express suicidal thoughts or fears that their positive COVID-19 test is a death sentence. Others reach out in the throes of a panic attack.

“Our phones are ringing off the hook,” said Honberg. “We stay busy. You hang up and it rings again.”

The dramatic increase is straining the licensed social workers and volunteers who strive to support callers’ mental and emotional health even as the pandemic takes a toll on their own lives and families.

In an April survey of crisis providers nationwide, nearly half of the 93 call centers that responded reported an increase in call volume, and almost as many said their workforce was overwhelmed. Many cited burnout, fatigue and mental or physical health concerns. 

The Alliance, known as NAMI, reported a 65% jump in HelpLine calls, callbacks and emails for the period of March 1 to April 30 from last year’s numbers in the same time span. Callers in the past typically wanted information or resources for a loved one, but now, four times as many people are reaching out about their own needs.

The Disaster Distress Helpline, a sub-network of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that offers emotional support to people in need after natural and human-caused disasters, saw an 890% spike in call volume in April compared with April 2019.

The Crisis Text Line, which provides round-the-clock support via text messages with a trained crisis counselor, had 9,854 counselors active during a 28-day period ending May 29 – more than double the number that were active in the 28 days before the pandemic, CEO Nancy Lublin said. 

“It’s stressful to think that there are people calling us and we can’t take their call immediately because we’re already on the phone with somebody,” said Rose Andre, a staff member at the Colorado Crisis Hotline, which also answers National Suicide Prevention Lifeline calls that originate from a Colorado area code. “We’re all feeling that chaos.”

COVID is not the only stress we are facing, our nation is plagued with racial tensions, police abuse of power, hatred for the military, disdain for law and order, a mistrust of the electoral system, and a general feeling of anxiety and hopelessness.

Beside all this people are carrying personal issues, like health threats, relationship problems, financial pressures, and other things. Everywhere you go people are hurting. I think based upon the article we just shared, the nation is in crisis.

Right in this room there are folks who are hanging on to sanity by a thread. Now more than ever we Christians need to serve as selfless Crisis workers. We must give warning, comfort, support, and patience to folks all around us.  

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Thessalonian believers gave them a similar exhortation.  When everything seems to be falling apart, we need to get our eyes off of ourselves and look on the needs of others. We need to be ready with a word that will comfort and rescue the person next to us. We need to be ready willing, and prepared to be used as Christians in Crisis.

Warn The Unruly

1 Thessalonians 5:14 KJV

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

 • Warn those who are idle.

In this context, warn implies a strong admonition not to behave in a particular way. A satisfactory translation may be simply “tell those who are idle that they must not be so,” “tell those lazy people that this is not right,” or “speak strongly to the lazy persons.”

Ellingworth, P., & Nida, E. A. (1976). A handbook on Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians (p. 119). New York: United Bible Societies.

 • Warn the disorderly

Admonish the disorderly (?????????? ???? ???????? [noutheteite tous ataktous]). Put sense into the unruly mob who break ranks (? [a] privative and ?????? [taktos], verbal adjective of ????? [tass?], to keep military order). Recall the idlers from the market-place used against Paul (Acts 17:5). This is a challenging task for any leader

Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (1 Th 5:14). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

 • Warn the unruly

Them that are unruly (???? ????????). N. T.o. The A. V. is more vigorous and less stilted than Rev. disorderly. From ? not and ??????? draw up or arrange. Those who are out of line. Comp. the adverb ??????? disorderly, 2 Th. 3:6, 11. Probably referring to the idlers and busybodies described there.

Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 4, pp. 48–49). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

2 Thessalonians 3:11 KJV

For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.

A group of 49 students and staff from Royd’s Comprehensive Middle School in England went on a week-long outdoor trip. One morning, a teacher took a small group on a river walk. She had never seen the water higher, so she led the kids through the dangerous river, instead of walking behind as usual. One of the boys slipped while trying to cross the swollen river, and needed help to get out.

Later that day another group and another teacher go on the same walk. This time, Rochelle and Hannah, two 13 year old girls, are swept away to their deaths in the flooded stream. One of the girls laughed as she slipped in the water. She thought she looked silly–her friends laughed with her. She had no idea of the danger she was really in.

Ms. Nicholson was asked why she had not warned the later groups. Her answer: She didn’t think anyone would answer the phone at the youth hostel where they were staying. She didn’t think anyone would listen.

SOURCE: SermonCentral staff. Citation: Stokes, Paul. River Fear Not Passed on by Walk Teacher. UK Telegraph, Feb 21,2002. 

Comfort the Feebleminded

1 Thessalonians 5:14 KJV

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words Fainthearted

oligopsuchos (??????????, 3642), lit., “small-souled” (oligos, “small,” psuche, “the soul”), denotes “despondent”; then, “fainthearted

the timid (oligopsychous, lit., “short of soul”) need encouragement. These fainthearted people tend to become discouraged and despondent more easily than most. They need cheering up, stimulation to press on, and extra help to live the Christian life. (Interestingly the verbs in these two commands [parakaloumen and paramytheisthe] are in the same order as the first two participles in 2:12.)

Constable, T. L. (1985). 1 Thessalonians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 708). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

A literal translation of encourage the timid could result in precisely the wrong meaning, namely, “encourage the timid to be more timid.” A more satisfactory equivalent may be found in a rendering such as “give courage to those who are fearful,” “take away the fear from those who are afraid,” or “give confidence to those who are afraid.”

Ellingworth, P., & Nida, E. A. (1976). A handbook on Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians (p. 119). New York: United Bible Societies.

A little girl lost a playmate in death and one day reported to her family that she had gone to comfort the sorrowing mother. “What did you say?” asked her parents. “Nothing,” she replied. “I just climbed up on her lap and cried with her.

1 Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 70.

Support The Weak

1 Thessalonians 5:14 KJV

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

Word Studies in the New Testament Chapter 5

Support (?????????). Comp. Matt. 6:24; Tit. 1:9. ???? against and ??????? to hold one’s self. The primary sense is, keeping one’s self directly opposite to another so as to sustain him.

“Weakness,” it should be noted, has very often been held in disdain by others, who think of themselves as the “strong”; however, Paul has here captured one of the marks of truly Christian faith, as it has been exhibited in full by our Lord himself in his earthly life.

Fee, G. D. (2009). The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians (pp. 210–211). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

In any case, it is clear that Paul’s use of the word weak, here as in Romans 14:1–2, does not imply any condemnation. Like the timid, the weak are people who need help, no doubt because they are immature or inexperienced. Since it is impossible to know precisely the meaning of weak in this context, it may be best to use a descriptive phrase which will fit with the meaning of “help,” for example, “help those who need help,” or “help those who are lacking in some way.”

Ellingworth, P., & Nida, E. A. (1976). A handbook on Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians (p. 119). New York: United Bible Societies.

The Joe Bayly family, in the course of several years, lost three of their children. In his book View from A Hearse, (Elgin, Ill.: Cook, 1973) Joe Bayly shared his honest feelings when one of his children died:

“I was sitting there torn by grief. Someone came and talked of God’s dealings, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He talked constantly. He said things I knew were true. I was unmoved, except to wish he’d go away. He finally did.

“Another came and sat beside me. He didn’t talk. He didn’t ask me leading questions. He just sat beside me for an hour and more, listened when I said something, answered briefly, prayed simply, and left. I was moved. I was comforted. I hated to see him go.”

1 Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 70.

Be Patient With Everyone.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 KJV

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

Be patient with everyone may be expressed idiomatically, for example, “speak softly to everyone,” “move slowly with everyone,” or negatively, “do not speak sharply to anyone,” or “do not shout at anyone.”

Ellingworth, P., & Nida, E. A. (1976). A handbook on Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians (pp. 119–120). New York: United Bible Societies.

That is, in human relationships more is needed than simply “being patient” with others, and Paul’s word here implies that “something more,” namely that they are to be “forbearing” toward, and thus “suffering long” with regard to, others in the believing community. Furthermore, this distinction between the two words regularly rendered as “patient/patience” in English is consistent in Paul’s own usage. “Patience” (hypomon?) is needed in trying situations; “forbearance [long suffering]” is what is required in interpersonal relationships—“with everyone.”

Fee, G. D. (2009). The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians (pp. 211–212). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

F.B. Meyer once said that when we see a brother or sister in sin, there are three things we do not know:

First, we do not know how hard he or she tried not to sin.

Second, we do not know the power of the forces that assailed him or her.

Thirdly, we also do not know what we would have done in the same circumstances.

Conviction and compassion – it’s not a binary concept of one or the other. It is both strength of conviction and depth of compassion that will enable us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world that God has called us to be.

_____________

You are needed! Unruly folks need to hear your warnings. Feebleminded, timid, small -souled, despondent people need your comfort. Weak, immature, vulnerable people need to lean on you as you support them. Everyone needs you to be long tempered giving grace to folks who need it most. This is to be the behavior of Christians in the Midst of Crisis.

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 1:25 PM September 17, 2020.

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