Being there in the crisis (1)

16 May 2019
‘You’re called to give aid to people in distress.’

You say, ‘It’s not my responsibility. I’m not getting involved!’ Psychologists call this ‘compassionate disengagement’, the tendency to avoid helping someone in trouble. Whether your motivation is inconvenience, self-protection, or indifference, it’s wrong. ‘Being there’ is how you demonstrate your love for God and your neighbour. And helping requires recognising three kinds of crises: 1) Accidental or situational crises. These involve things like sudden threats to our well-being, disruptive events, unexpected losses, the discovery of a serious illness, the death of a loved one, a family breakdown, the loss of livelihood or security. Job experienced all these events together and wondered why God allowed so many bad things to happen to him. 2) Developmental crises. These occur in the course of everyday life. Moving house, going away to university, adjusting to marriage, parenting, retirement, ageing, declining health, and the loss of friends. Abraham and Sarah moved many times. They also endured years of childlessness and family stress, including the challenge of sacrificing Isaac. 3) Existential crises. These are when we face disturbing truths about ourselves. We may see ourselves as failures, grapple with being divorced or widowed, learn that our illness is incurable, experience rejection because of our race, class, age, or gender, or realise we may be getting too old to fulfil our life goals. True ‘helpers’ understand, get involved, and encourage. They keep their eyes open, and are quick to ‘give aid to people in distress’.

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