Monday, March 16, 2020

Making Decisions in a Crisis

We are all being forced to make lots of tough decisions in the face of the Coronavirus. Decisions as to what we do to minimise the chance of the virus spreading. Do we do nothing, do we follow the government advice or should we be taking notice of the stricter rules being put in place in other countries. The line between not doing enough and putting our own lives and the lives of others at risk, and over reacting and causing unnecessary panic and disruption to the lives of many, is a very fine one. In fact it will only be with the benefit of hindsight that we will know where that line actually was and whether or not we and our government made the right decisions. 

From those making decisions on a family level for ourselves, our children, our parents and other loved ones through to the people making decisions on a national level, we are all forced to act without the full facts and with the conflicting advice and opinions of others. 

I have four encouragements for us all as we seek to navigate our way through this.

Pray for wisdom

We need to pray for wisdom both for ourselves and for those leading us. Scripture tells us that:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you. 
James 1:5)

I've been asking God lots for wisdom in the last few days. Wisdom for Catrina and me as we make decisions around our family. Wisdom as I lead our church teams in deciding on our response to the virus. Wisdom for our local and national government as they make decisions which will have huge consequences for our nation. Our prayers are powerful and effective and when we ask God for wisdom he has promised to give it to us. 

I'm also praying for all in our church community involved in education, healthcare, running small businesses or leading in larger organisations, politics, the arts, media, sports and entertainment, many of whom I know are having to make decisions with big impacts for themselves and others. May you know the wisdom of God. 

Let's all make sure prayer for wisdom is our first step, not our last.

Seek wisdom

It is also hugely important to seek the wisdom of others. Proverbs teaches us:

For lack of guidance a nation falls, 
but victory is won through many advisors.
(Proverbs 11:14)

As part of our decision making process we need to talk to others we trust and respect and hear their advice and counsel. Ultimately it is our responsibility to make decisions, but others can be a huge help us in the process of getting there.

We also need to listen to the wider advice of experts who know what they are talking about. Taking on board advice from the government and health experts, and not being spooked by the sensational or scare mongering reports in some of our national press or on social media.

Act out of faith, hope and love; not fear. 

We make bad decisions when we act out of fear, whether that is fear of what other people will think or say about our decisions, fear of the economic or other consequences, fear that elevates our situations and circumstances above our confidence in God, fear which paralyses us or fear which makes us buy too many toilet rolls! 

As Christians we should never make decisions out of fear. In this respect we should look utterly different to the rest of the world, continuously having fear cast out of us by the perfect love of Jesus, and being filled with love for our fellow human beings rather than acting selfishly or simply being focussed on self preservation. 

As an example if we decide for a season to stop our Sunday gatherings it won't be a decision driven by fear, but by our love for the vulnerable in our community and a desire not to put them at risk. It will be a decision driven by the faith that God can not only sustain us as we gather in different ways, but can actually use this season to grow both us and our impact in the wider world. And a decision driven by the hope and confidence that 

our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us
an eternal glory 
that far outweighs them all. 
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Remember that although we make decisions, God is sovereign over all. 

God would remind us that:

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
(Proverbs 16:9)

Let's not be afraid to make decisions, even when we don't have all the facts and aren't 100% sure of the right thing to do. If we commit our ways to God he has promised to make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6), even if sometimes with hindsight we feel we made the wrong call. Let us decide without fear or anxiety, but with our eyes fixed on Jesus and our confidence in him.

I'm sure there's much more that could be said, but hopefully this is helpful as we navigate our way through the next few weeks. 


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