By Will Cunningham
Madness! There is no other word that comes to mind. When defined, it either means “…extremely foolish behavior…” or “…a state of chaotic activity…” or in some cases “…a state of mental illness…”
You don’t have to go back to far to recount some of the madness: In 2019 the political polarization was ponderous with political parties arguing over who should be leading our country, with massive finger pointing and criminal accusations swirling around and around. Just a bunch of extreme and foolish behavior, inciting families, groups, and church members to do the same.
In 2020-21 the world entered a state of chaotic activity, where world leaders, medical professionals, church leaders and average citizens were all trying to figure out what a Pandemic is and how to navigate through it. Probably more than any other groups that were affected the most, have been children and churches. Children experienced something that I call, “Social Distancing Disorder” (not an approved term, yet), where the children are cut off from all social activities while parents are working, and the world has but all stopped. The churches have by far been going through an alarming phenomenon of uncertainty, resulting in church splits, church mergers and church leadership re-alignment and the cutting of budgets, leaving the sheep wandering off near cliffs and deserts.
This year 2022, we continue to experience the chaotic activity with Afghan resettlement issues and Russian invasion into the Ukraine where an estimated 4 million Ukrainians are fleeing to countries of safe refuge. Another refugee crisis. What is the message behind all this madness… Uncertainty! No one knows what is next and as a result, insecurity sets in. Mental wellness turns to mental illness or mental uncertainty or mental insecurity.
Pastors, teachers, and lay leaders are now dealing with more cases of anxiety and depression in their pews while also trying to manage their own or those in their family. So, how, who or what can be done to make it thru the madness?
I suggest a look at the hardship of Paul’s ministry as a missionary. In the book of Acts, Paul writes with corrective language to the leaders in the Ephesian church and it is a message we need to adopt and adhere too:
“… But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of Grace of God.” – Acts 20:24.
If you read before verse 24, you find in verse 18 that his conduct was constant. He lived in a Christ-like manner – always. As ministers, we must do the same, don’t be moved by these things. In verse 19, he stated that he served with all humility. Don’t let the position of power fuel your pride. Ministry is of the Lord for the Lord’s people, not for our gain. Finally in verse 20, he states that he kept back nothing that was helpful. We are in the most important time in our history and in the most important work in the world, with little pay, little recognition and see little results, yet it is empirical that others receive hope in the midst of these days of madness. I’d encourage you to revisit these passages in Acts, culminates in verse 32 and 33 where he commends them to “…the word of His Grace, which is able to build you up…”
Much of these mentionable madness’s are not new for the staff of Heart for Lebanon. Since 2006, we have been managing this type of chaotic activity and behavior with Syrian Refugee population and marginalized poor Lebanese families. It has turned into a privilege to be able to offer a truth that is far higher than mankind. With our own leaders, we find that we are offer some important instructions to deal with the madness to get them thru and stay on point and we offer it to you to share with others in your ministry:
Making it thru Madness
Turn to God. Peter teaches us this in 1 Peter 5:6-9 to “… cast our cares (anxieties) upon Him, for he cares for us.
Focus on the solution, not the problem(s). Jesus did this with the disciples in Matt. 14:22-23 where He sent them to the other side of the lake while He dealt with the multitude.
Stop wasting your energy on worrying. Jesus speaks to the disciples in Matt. 6:25-34 and Luke 12:22-34; telling them not to worry or not to have an anxious mind but seek the kingdom. Our father in Heaven knows what we have need of.
Meditate on God. In the book of Isa. 26:3 we are taught and encouraged to keep our thoughts steadfast (constantly) on Him, for in doing so, will keep us in perfect peace.
Pray and be thankful. Paul gives us a 3-fold cure for anxiousness: Pray, be thankful and think of what is true in Phil. 4:4-9.
Move toward the devotion. In Psalm 91:1-2, the Psalmist writes to us to move our attention to a devotional dwelling place of certainty.
Inspired by Acts 20: 22-33