Several years ago, I read or heard someone say something like “There’s nothing like a crisis to build character.” I thought about that, quite a bit, as I observed or listened to reports from areas hit by flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake and other instances of general mayhem.
My conclusion is that crises don’t build character nearly as much as they reveal it. The true inner person comes out in such situations. Compassion, criticism, selfishness, arrogance, humility, determination, consideration. All of those traits—and many others—may suddenly be put on display but those attributes were already present. The ones we nourish (or indulge) during a crisis or disaster or calamity will be made stronger. And be even more ready to be revealed in the next one.
During this time, we’ve seen our own values made more obvious. We realize what matters to us, what we’re willing to do to help safeguard the health and safety of others. Or what risks we’re willing to take and expect others to make. We come to see what sacrifices we’re willing to make and for what reasons. We find out about our own priorities and concerns and realize that sometimes those may conflict with one another.
We want to help protect our elderly relatives and friends—but we also want to be able to pay the mortgage. We want to do our part to minimize the risk of spreading disease—but we also want to have food to eat. We want to support those we love and those we don’t even know—but we also worry about the eventual economic fallout from prolonged sequestering.
Times like this assault our emotions, put our convictions to the test, and tempt us to superficially judge other people. We may find ourselves contemplating responses and reactions that contradict who we believed we were.
We have to have something that guards our minds and our hearts from the things that could eventually destroy them. Something that lets us shed the strains and stresses of the things that want to make us something other than what we truly desire to be. Something that steers us clear of spiritual, emotional, and mental danger.
Something like a conscience. Something like a healthy way of looking at the world. Something—or rather someone—like the Spirit of God living within us.
If we will trust, be quiet and listen for a while, and reflect on what Jesus spoke and taught, I believe we will find ourselves living as we ought to live. Walking in love, showing mercy, and remembering that God works for our good in all situations. Even this one.