We all have watched disaster movies or read books about catastrophes like the Holocaust. It is easy as an observer to think about how we would respond so much differently, telling ourselves “that would not happen to us.” In the comfort of our homes, we are able to think of all the witty come backs and strategies to beat the odds and survive. But would we be able to follow through on all these grand ideas, or just be another half-crazed person making mistakes out of desperation and fear?
The answer lies in what we do now. If you fight with your spouse about finances now, what do you think the arguments will be like when there is no money? If you are impatient with your children for spilling milk while trying to help, how will you react when they spill the last can of juice anywhere? If you have trouble loving your neighbor now when there are plenty of resources to go around, how will you show the love of Jesus when the starving elderly woman from down the road knocks on your door when supplies are limited?
You will behave then, just as you do now. Somehow we all think we will be different, that everything will change in a crisis. Well, guess what? Things will be different. They will get worse.
Compared to physical preparations for a disaster, psychological readiness is at least as important. This is especially true for us as believers, since we are called to be salt and light even in desperate circumstances. And if you are tempted to think that Jesus was not talking about tough times, remember that he was preparing the Jewish people for one of the worst tragedies in their history to that point – the destruction of the Temple along with widespread murder and torture. If you are reading this and realizing that you don’t always respond the way you should now, even in the relative comfort of our present circumstances, take some time to read the following ways that you can start preparing by being at peace in your home now.
1) Take stock – If you are married, set aside some time with your partner for a heart-to-heart. If you have older children, get their input too. If you are single, sit down with pen and paper and do some soul searching.
Are you living like Jesus now? How do you handle the mini-crises of life? Remember, the point is not to beat yourself up, criticize others or start fighting, but prepare yourself and love one another.
- What is working well in your family or life?
- What areas need improvement?
- Have each member of the family pick one thing (patience, kind words, diligence, etc.) that they want to work on, and find ways for the rest of the family to help them. For those of you who are single, look for a friend or mentor to be accountable to.
2) Find mentors – Do you know people you’d like to emulate? Consider these traits and other things that you value—are there people:
- who always seem cool under pressure?
- whose parenting you admire?
- whose marriage is strong and has stood the test of time?
- who are able to adapt to changing and challenging circumstances?
These are the people you want to spend some time with. You may have to make time to get to know them better. Invite them over for dinner, suggest a joint family activity, or even ask them how they are making things work. You may even be blessed enough to find someone who is like-minded and willing to help you grow and learn in your faith over the long term.
3) Memorize scripture – God’s Word is a consistent source of strength and wisdom. We have come to take for granted the abundant written copies of scripture that we have, and the many tools for looking up a specific passages to help or comfort us. Like many of our forebearers in the faith, we may not always have these luxuries. Don’t wait until disaster strikes to start learning God’s Word. Now is the time to write the Word on our heart so we do not sin (Psalms 119:11). Here are some possible ways to help you get started:
- Find verses that deal with your “improvement area” (anger, love, etc) and memorize one each week.
- Memorize a verse that is meaningful to you from each book of the Bible.
- Work as a family to write and decorate posters of verses about God as our caretaker and protector and post them throughout the house.
4) Prioritize your prayer life – When you have nothing, you have God. When you have everything, you have God. This is the one relationship that is guaranteed to last for eternity. It is so easy in our busy-ness to forget this salient point and do everything but pray. Make sure to set aside quiet time each day for prayer. Also work on praying continuously, as Paul advises, and realize that God is always in the struggle with you, no matter where you are or what you are doing.
If we are going to survive we must work together. Team work and family togetherness do not just happen. Make time to work at it and you will see changes in your family that will carry you through any crisis – including the small ones or the end of the world as we know it.