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A Present Help in Times of Trouble

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We are living in troubling times. The word pandemic has found its way into everyday conversations with believers and non-believers alike. Webster says a pandemic is something “occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population.”

At present, we have two pandemics before us: COVID-19 and racial tension. I would even say that as a nation, we are at a point of crisis. Barring divine intervention, we are in serious trouble. In American culture, the word crisis means “an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending, especially one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome.”

However, in Japanese culture, the word for crisis and opportunity is the same. The Japanese interpretation is appropriate because wherever there is a crisis, the Holy Spirit wants to move in and upon the life of the believer to turn the crisis into an opportunity.

In Scripture, three prepositions are used to explain how the Spirit moves within us: The Holy Spirit is “with” you, “in” you, and “upon” you.

The Holy Spirit is “with” you.

In John 14, we observe one aspect of the Holy Spirit: He is “with” us. John 14:17 (ESV) says, “Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

Regarding proximity, He is by our side and very close. However, the idea of the Holy Spirit being with us is still an “outer” relationship. Many Christians today know only the outer, “with” us aspect of the Holy Spirit. As I listen to the intercession of many believers, their prayers reflect separation: “Lord be with me. Holy Spirit, come.” Yet there is so much more for the New Testament believer. We see this promise in Ezekiel 36:27: “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

Jesus came, died on the cross, and rose from the dead; therefore, Ezekiel 36:27 is no longer in the future tense “I will”; it is in the past tense, “I have.” The believer’s relationship is no longer one of separation where the Holy Spirit is just “with” us. No, He lives in us, and He is causing us to walk in His statutes and live out His will. The Holy Spirit lives in every believer, and this is marvelous news. Therefore, you no longer have to pray, “Lord, be with me.” You can thank Him that He is “in you” and will never leave you nor forsake you.

The Holy Spirit is “in” you.

The “in you” aspect of the Holy Spirit refers to the power to live like Christ. It is Christ by His Spirit, living in and through us. Galatians 5 explains the indwelling Spirit’s life by His fruit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (v. 22–23).

If someone is in a non-loving situation of hate and indifference, the Holy Spirit manifests love. In a crisis of grief and sorrow, He manifests joy. In a crisis of fear and worry, the Holy Spirit manifests peace. I think you see the pattern here. It is the crisis of the corresponding opposite that allows the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself. It is our negatives that become opportunities for His great positives. Therefore, if we yield to the Spirit, we can take heart and not worry about any situation; life’s crises will become opportunities.

The Holy Spirit is “upon” you.

The “upon” aspect of the Holy Spirit has to do with anointing, which gives us the ability to do what the Lord has called us to do, even in the toughest situations. We see this truth in the life of Jesus. In Luke 4, after the Spirit came upon Jesus, He was led into the wilderness to battle the devil. Talk about a time of crisis!

Yet Jesus took the crisis and turned it into an opportunity. Later in the chapter, Jesus tells us: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (v. 18–19).

Notice where the Spirit leads Jesus? To people who live in crisis mode—the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed. Once these people interact with the Spirit upon Jesus, their crisis turns into an opportunity for transformation.

Where might the Spirit of the Lord be leading you so He can turn your tough situations into opportunities for transformation? Friends—we don’t have to run or cower from any crisis today, even if it’s COVID-19 or 400-year-old racial tensions. God can use these problems for renewal; therefore, I am hopeful.

Frequently I am asked what I think about the times in which we are living. My answer is always one filled with hope. We live in a day of massive opportunities because of the darkness and confusion. In a dark building it is the person who has the flashlight who leads.

Friends, we have more than a flashlight. We have the Light of the world who is with us, in us, and upon us. So, let your light shine. The Spirit of the Lord wants to turn every crisis into an opportunity. He is our very present help in times of trouble!

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