If You Found Jesus in a Time of Crisis, You're Not Alone

Crises are no fun.

Whether they come in the form of an automobile accident, cancer, natural disasters, or any other myriad catastrophes, crises are things we'd all rather avoid if possible.

Alex Blăjan

Nevertheless, in the midst of such events, God can use these circumstances to bring about amazing results.

Look no further than the jailer at Philippi responsible for prisoners Paul and Silas. When God sent an earthquake and the bonds fell off the hands and feet of the prisoners, the prison guard unsheathed his sword to end his own life.

He knew worse things befall those who let prisoners escape.

But when Paul shouted for the jailer to stop because all of the prisoners were still in the jail, something interesting happened. The man cried out, "What must I do to be saved?"

Why would the guard ask this question when he knew he was already safe, considering no prisoners had fled? The Philippian was, of course, referring to spiritual salvation and Paul responded in kind, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31).

Do you see what happened here?

The man, just minutes prior was ready to commit suicide. That mentality put him in the frame of mind to receive and believe in Jesus. Why? It's simple; his own mortality confronted him. And mortality lends itself to contemplating destiny.

The Best Thing about Death

King Solomon wrote that it's better to attend a funeral than a feast.[1]

This verse perplexed me for years until an older man explained it to me. He said funerals force us to think about our own finitude and to contemplate what lies beyond the grave. At feasts we are full and satisfied and therefore have no cause for thinking about anything beyond ourselves.

The near-death experience of the Philippian jailer forced him to recognize he needed something beyond himself. And though he didn't know quite what it was, he knew Paul and Silas did. How? Because despite the pain and suffering and injustice he and his fellow Romans inflicted upon the apostles, still they continued to praise God:

Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:25[2]

Paul and Silas did not know how long the Philippians would hold them in jail, but still they maintained joy and hope. The prison guard, on the other hand, had stared down death and couldn't come up with any answers on his own. So in his time of crisis he cried out, "What must I do to be saved?"

How to Get People to Ask about Jesus

I think the lesson for us is twofold.

No, we shouldn't desire or seek out crises in our own lives or wish for them in the lives of others. But we should recognize that they will come, Christian or not, and prepare accordingly. We should make every effort to grow in our faith, that when these moments do come, God will produce in us the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

Second, and perhaps even more critical, we should recognize these moments in others' lives and do what we can to alleviate or ameliorate the crises, seeking the opportunity as a possible inroad to speak Jesus into their lives.

It would have been so easy and not unjustified for Paul and Silas simply to flee the prison. The earthquake and resultant unshackling of the prisoners was clearly a supernatural act. Nevertheless Paul was attuned to the spiritual ripeness of the jailer. So rather than run away, Paul stayed behind to witness to the man who just moments prior was his enemy!

We can only pray for this level of grace and mercy. I know I would have a hard time caring at all about the life of a man who was complicit in my scourging and unjust imprisonment. But Paul, having himself been saved from such treachery, knew firsthand the power of the grace of God.

Few of us will ever encounter this type of calamity; nevertheless crises of various types inevitably plague us all.

It is unfortunate that for many of us it takes a crisis to awaken us to spiritual matters, but when calamity strikes others, we Christians can respond with love and kindness in the midst of such pain.

And if you called out to Jesus in a time of crisis, you're in good company. Paul himself experienced God under extreme circumstances. The Lord struck him blind, but Ananias was obedient to God and took him in, witnessing to him in his moment of need.

We need more Ananiases in this world: Christians who, despite fear and discomfort, in obedience receive people in crisis and care for them. In showing concern for the physical, more often than not, those in peril will listen to matters of the spirit.

The best way I know to prepare for crises is to work on strengthening your faith. And the best way to do that is to grow in your relationship with Jesus through service, studying the Word, and through prayer.

If you've ever struggled (like I have) with maintaining a consistent devotional time, I'd encourage you to download my guide, How to Establish a Habit of Daily Quiet Time with God.

This guide contains the exact steps I have used to build up a consistent habit of reading the Bible and of prayer. Since I implemented this system several years ago, I have only missed a handful of days of quiet time.

As a result, I've grown much closer to God, and He has helped me become a more mature believer.

This guide will only cost you your email address, and along with the PDF, you'll also get my monthly newsletter. (But after you grab the guide, you can unsubscribe at any time.) Just fill out the form below to get started:

1. See Ecclesiastes 7:2, Contemporary English Version
2. The jailer was asleep at this time, but, no doubt, Paul and Silas had been praying and singing earlier in the day too.

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