Marriage in God's Hands

Lazarus: A Family In Crisis

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Alanzo Smith, June Smith


Series Code: MGH

Program Code: MGH000050

00:30 Welcome to Marriage in God's Hands.
00:33 I am Alanzo Smith, the host of this program.
00:36 I'm June Smith.
00:39 And today we are going to talk about,
00:42 Families in Crisis.
00:45 But before we do so, we invite you to pray with us.
00:49 Our Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your mercies,
00:53 and for Your grace.
00:55 We recognize that sometimes our families are in crisis.
00:59 And Lord, we need You.
01:01 We ask that You'd bless us as we go through this discussion.
01:04 In Jesus' name, Amen. Amen.
01:09 We're going to start out by going to the story of Lazarus.
01:14 Indeed, that was a family in crisis.
01:18 It's recorded in John chapter 11.
01:22 When Lazarus took sick, his sisters sent messengers
01:27 unto Jesus and they said something like this,
01:30 "Lord, he whom Thou loveth is sick. "
01:35 And according to Ellen White and the Bible,
01:39 Jesus did or said nothing in three days.
01:44 Three days passed and He said nothing about it.
01:47 But after Lazarus' death, Jesus turned to the disciples
01:53 and He said, "Our friend Lazarus is sleeping"
01:57 describing death as asleep.
02:00 The disciples understood to some extent, but
02:03 they responded, "Well Lord, if he's sleeping he's doing well. "
02:09 It was like a denial of the reality.
02:14 And when Jesus realized that they were denying the reality
02:19 of what the situation was, He turned to them
02:22 and He said plainly, "Lazarus is dead. "
02:26 In other words, he's not sleeping as you think.
02:29 He is dead.
02:31 I want to focus on the response of the disciples.
02:37 Because it seems as if that's an act of denial.
02:41 I remember Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote about the first act
02:46 an individual demonstrates when there's a crisis.
02:50 Why do people deny when they're faced with a crisis?
02:56 Denial is what is referred to as a defense mechanism.
03:00 When one hears sad news, it could be perceived as a shock.
03:08 And that could throw you
03:11 in an emotional state of disequilibrium.
03:13 So what tends to happen is, the way God has designed us,
03:18 psychologically we say, "No this isn't happening. "
03:22 And it gives us time to absorb the shock.
03:26 So, there are several factors then
03:31 that influences your stability to face crisis.
03:37 Let us explore some of them with you.
03:41 For example, your emotional stability, your emotional state,
03:49 how secure you are as an individual will determine
03:55 how you can face the challenge of a crisis.
04:01 Another is what we call the severity of the event.
04:04 We live in New York City and I remember very well
04:08 the incident of 9/11.
04:11 And it was such a colossal problem that everyone
04:16 in New York, and I would dare say around the world,
04:19 in some way or form was affected.
04:24 So when you have a severe incident, the response will be
04:29 very different from maybe a local,
04:31 or even an issue that is personal.
04:36 Another factor that influences one's ability to respond
04:40 to a crisis is the proximity of the issue,
04:45 the proximity of the event.
04:47 For example, even though 9/11 affected just about everybody
04:52 around the world, we who were living in New York,
04:56 we were affected more than, say individuals
05:01 living out in California.
05:03 In the context of, we were so close to the event
05:06 I can remember vividly, I was standing there in my living room
05:10 when I watched that plane.
05:12 And then when I had to visit ground zero and
05:14 go down there and be a part of that process,
05:17 that made the crisis more painful.
05:22 So the proximity determines how we are able to handle.
05:27 And of course, people who were even within closer proximity,
05:31 in Manhattan itself, had a different response.
05:35 They were physically impacted and had to be responded to.
05:39 Now, the level of support that one has, that a family has
05:43 when they're going through a crisis,
05:45 will also influence their response.
05:47 So there's a larger network of family and friends
05:51 that can fall in place and help to pick up some of the pieces
05:54 that allows an individual to deal with the crisis
05:57 a lot differently from somebody who might be isolated from
06:00 family or friends.
06:02 And you're problem solving skills.
06:06 There are some individuals who are able to
06:08 face a problem, handle it, and work towards a solution.
06:14 There are others who run away from their problems.
06:17 They run away from their fears.
06:18 The way we find ourselves dealing with issues,
06:25 how we address problems, determine how we are able to
06:30 manage them in the long run.
06:32 Add this to our personal characteristics,
06:35 there are some people who are, what we could identify as
06:39 panic stricken.
06:41 The slightest situation throws them into disequilibrium.
06:45 And there are other people who go through challenges
06:49 frequently and learn how survive.
06:53 And so, again, your personal traits, in a sense that
06:58 you are somebody who is willing to stand up to
07:00 the stress and challenges of life,
07:02 will be handled very differently than somebody who is
07:05 very weak and emotionally fragile.
07:09 So, when you are going through a crisis,
07:12 here are some of the characteristics that you
07:15 generally exhibit.
07:17 First of all is what we call shock.
07:20 It's like, "Oh my God. "
07:23 Or you say, "Wow, how am I going to manage?"
07:28 And you just loose all sense of reality
07:32 because you are so shocked,
07:33 because of the severity of the issue.
07:36 Or you get really numb.
07:37 It's almost like you're frozen in time.
07:40 Because you just can't believe that this
07:42 horrific experience has occurred.
07:46 Let me take you back to the passage we were talking about,
07:48 the Mary and Martha situation with the death of Lazarus.
07:52 And show you the emotional response of these two sisters.
08:00 In verse 21 of the passage, when Martha saw Jesus coming
08:07 she went to him and she said, "Lord, if thou hast been here
08:13 my brother would not have died. "
08:16 She was shocked from the incident.
08:20 She was numb because of the sudden loss of her brother.
08:24 But the irony about it all, what happened here is that
08:28 her sister Mary made a similar response, as if to say that
08:33 the two sisters had planned it.
08:34 Because when you go to verse 32,
08:36 she says the same thing when she saw Jesus.
08:39 In verse 32 she says, "Lord, if thou hast been here
08:43 my brother would not have died. "
08:46 So we're talking about the emotional response
08:49 that one gives to a crisis.
08:51 It's shocking, it's painful, it's there.
08:56 Now we've been talking about the family's response to a crisis.
09:00 And we're saying there are emotional responses.
09:04 And now we're looking at cognitive responses.
09:07 There are times when one goes through a crisis that
09:11 cognitively, you just get confused.
09:14 You lose concentration.
09:16 You sometimes blame yourself that there's something
09:19 you could have done differently.
09:20 Or that you should have done to prevent the situation.
09:24 You begin to become irrational in the way you perceive
09:28 your realities here and the future that's ahead of you.
09:33 You sometimes have what we call impaired judgment.
09:38 Let's go back to our story and show an example
09:42 of an impaired judgment.
09:44 Verse 23 of the same passage we're looking on,
09:48 John 11, the story of Lazarus.
09:51 In verse 23, Jesus said to Martha,
09:56 "Thy brother shall rise again. "
10:01 That's an assurance.
10:02 "Thy brother shall rise again. " meaning, "I have the power
10:06 and I will do something. "
10:07 But because Martha's judgment was so impaired,
10:12 she could not understand the power of Jesus immediately.
10:17 She projected into the future and she was thinking of the
10:20 resurrection back at the coming of the Lord.
10:23 She says, "I know. " That's her response in verse 24.
10:26 "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection. "
10:32 Had it not been for an impaired judgment,
10:35 she would have been able to say to herself,
10:38 "This is the Messiah, this is the Man who had been
10:41 healing sick people, opening the eyes of blind people, and
10:45 all of those things. He has that power.
10:48 Yes, He can do something for my brother. "
10:51 But again, her judgment was impaired.
10:54 Now we have looked at the emotional responses.
10:56 We're looking at the cognitive responses.
11:00 Now let's talk about some of the behavioral responses.
11:04 Ineffective communication.
11:06 When an individual is going through a crisis,
11:11 they don't communicate well.
11:14 They use words that suggest they don't care.
11:19 Or they become careless.
11:21 Or they just give up on life.
11:24 And when you're talking to them, they don't want to talk.
11:27 And they're just not there.
11:30 The stress is so great.
11:33 So that's one of them.
11:35 There's what we identify as regressive behavior.
11:38 That is, the person who before the crisis
11:41 was pretty much in control, who could get up and take care of
11:45 themselves and do what they had to do to survive,
11:48 now regressed to almost infantile behavior.
11:51 Where somebody needs to take care of them.
11:53 And they're almost like a child again.
11:56 And it's such a sad thing to watch.
12:00 Impulsivity.
12:01 Sometimes individuals who are going through a crisis,
12:05 one of their behavior response is that
12:07 they just act out of impulse.
12:09 They will just get up and go start shopping and
12:12 in one afternoon blow thousands of dollars.
12:16 They will just get up, jump on a plane and just fly somewhere,
12:19 leave their family, their plants behind, their animals behind.
12:23 Things like that. They just act on impulse.
12:25 It's just something that happens regularly.
12:30 Another behavioral response is that they withdraw.
12:31 They cut off everyone that could be supportive.
12:35 And they stay away from friends and from their co-workers,
12:39 or even church members.
12:41 This is exactly what Mary did.
12:44 Look at verse 20 of the same chapter.
12:47 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming,
12:52 went and met Him, but Mary sat still in the house.
12:57 She was withdrawn.
12:58 The Messiah's coming, the one person on planet earth that
13:01 can help her, there she was in her withdrawal.
13:05 She didn't want to face the world.
13:06 She didn't want to face anybody.
13:08 She didn't want to go out and see anyone.
13:10 She's going through a crisis. She wants to stay in her world.
13:13 She wants to stay by herself. She wants to lock herself
13:15 in her room. She did not want to.
13:17 Well, we're talking about crisis facing the family.
13:22 And we want you to understand, we have some others.
13:25 We want to talk about the psychological response,
13:27 the spiritual response, and some factors
13:30 that predisposes one to acute anger and stress.
13:35 Listen, we want you to be with us.
13:38 Don't go anywhere.
13:39 Stay there, we'll be right back.
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14:25 Welcome back to our program, Marriage in God's Hands.
14:30 We are talking about Lazarus, a family in crisis.
14:37 We have looked at some of the responses that families
14:39 go through.
14:40 We identified the emotional,
14:42 we looked at the cognitive responses,
14:45 we looked at the behavioral responses.
14:47 Now let us identify some of the physiological responses.
14:51 Chest pains.
14:53 When a crisis hits you, sometimes your chest
14:58 tightens up and you feel it here.
15:02 Now, for whatever the reason, the pain is real.
15:06 Let no one deny you of that.
15:08 Some individuals have to go and seek medical help.
15:11 But that's one of the physiological signs.
15:14 Another is perfuse sweating.
15:16 People who get anxious and/or nervous
15:20 tend to respond by sweating.
15:23 I remember speaking to a woman who was actually in crisis.
15:26 And you could literally see the drops of sweat
15:29 falling from her palm.
15:30 I've never seen that before.
15:33 Dizziness.
15:34 You can become very dizzy.
15:36 Fainting spells attacking you.
15:41 There is want is called irritable bowels,
15:44 where the individual in crisis loses control of the bowel
15:50 and wants to go to the bathroom constantly.
15:55 There's also a spiritual response.
15:57 And one of them that a lot of people manifest is withdrawal.
16:03 Withdrawal from God. Withdrawal from church.
16:07 Withdrawal from praying or doing the things that you use to do.
16:12 That is something that is harmful.
16:16 If you're in a crisis, the last thing on planet earth that
16:19 you want to do is to withdraw from God.
16:23 Sometimes there is an over dependence on God as well
16:26 as a spiritual response.
16:28 Where the person feels so vulnerable that they
16:32 become almost fanatic in their religious experience.
16:35 And it's not that they genuinely are seeking God,
16:39 but they're almost afraid that if they don't pay this homage
16:44 to God as it were, that the same thing could happen again.
16:47 And so it could be a withdrawal as well as an over dependence.
16:53 We're talking about the spiritual response
16:56 that individuals sometimes give in a crisis.
17:00 There are times that people not just withdraw from God,
17:04 but they become angry at God.
17:05 "Has God forgotten to be righteous?" the psalmist asks.
17:09 Sometimes people become so angry at God
17:13 that they want to shipwreck their faith,
17:17 shipwreck their life.
17:18 The one being in the universe, in the heavens, that you cannot
17:22 be angry at is God.
17:24 Why? He's your Maker. He's your Redeemer.
17:27 He's your Sustainer.
17:28 And in Him you live, and move, and have your being.
17:32 You cannot be angry at God.
17:35 And He is your Friend.
17:36 The responsive anger, however, seems to be consistent
17:41 with what happens in the grieving process.
17:44 In fact, Kubler-Ross, who you sited earlier,
17:46 talks about the stages of grief.
17:49 And one of the stages is actually anger.
17:52 So it's not unlikely or inconsistent that a person
17:55 who is going through a crisis,
17:57 and is grieving and totally overwhelmed with the situation,
18:00 will get angry.
18:02 But not every individual going through a crisis
18:06 demonstrates negative anger in the spiritual context.
18:12 There are some individuals, their crisis drives them
18:16 closer to God.
18:18 Their crisis drives them to the heart of God.
18:22 And so, they're able to find peace and comfort
18:27 in the midst of their storm.
18:28 The story we're looking at here of Lazarus' death,
18:33 here is the spiritual response of Martha.
18:38 In verse 22, after all the trauma,
18:40 and all that she was going through, her denial and etc,
18:44 she said in verse 22 talking to Jesus,
18:47 "But I know now that whatsoever You ask of God,
18:52 God will give it. "
18:53 In other words, she has gotten to the point in her faith
18:57 and in her experience where she realized that
18:59 "Yes, my brother is dead. "
19:02 "Yes this is a crisis for me and for my family. "
19:06 "But I can't turn away from the one source
19:09 that can help me most. "
19:10 So she goes to the Source and she appeals,
19:13 "But I know now, I know that if You ask God,
19:18 whatever You ask God, God will grant it unto You. "
19:21 It's like saying, "Yes, I need You to do something for me now.
19:25 Please ask God for help on my behalf. "
19:29 Now, let us look at some of the factors that predisposes
19:33 one to acute stress.
19:38 That is important.
19:39 Because depending on what the individual
19:44 has experienced in the past, your prior experience
19:48 with past stress will determine how you respond.
19:51 There are individuals who have the ability to cope
19:54 because they have gone through certain challenges.
19:58 And as a result, they have developed a coping mechanism.
20:02 Where as individuals who have been hit with a crisis
20:06 for the first time might not have the
20:08 coping mechanism with them.
20:11 Another is people or individuals who have had severe loses.
20:16 If you've had a series of crisis events, or other significant
20:22 loses in your life, then when another crisis comes,
20:26 you are really thrown for a loop.
20:28 So you could get into what we call acute stress.
20:34 This is the most severe form of stress now.
20:37 We're talking about what could drive one
20:39 into that deep end of stress.
20:44 Chronic medical condition.
20:48 There are times when, unfortunately and how sad,
20:52 the diagnosis from the doctor is of such that
20:56 there seems to be no hope.
20:58 Or it is of such that it's grave, it's bad.
21:03 And individual sometimes, doesn't take this too well.
21:08 And it drives them into deep depression.
21:12 So individuals who have had these chronic cases
21:16 sometimes go off into depression.
21:19 Another factor that predisposes one to stress is the notion of
21:25 what we refer to as family support.
21:28 People who have a network around them,
21:31 who have friends or family that they can lean on,
21:34 that they can call, and that they think or believe will
21:38 come to their aid, are more likely to survive crises.
21:43 But when they are isolated from their family and friends,
21:47 then they're more predisposed to acute stress.
21:50 And if they are physically injured,
21:53 if you are physically injured by an event,
21:56 like you have an accident.
21:59 And that accident has left you incapacitated,
22:02 or whatever it is, some people don't take that well.
22:07 "I was an athlete, I use to run. And now I can't run. "
22:12 "I use to play a particular sport and now I can't. "
22:17 Something has happened and I'm not going to be
22:19 able to do that again.
22:20 ?And when you say, "You mean for the rest of my life,
22:24 I will not be able to walk again?"
22:26 Or, "For the rest of my life, I won't be able to sing?"
22:28 Or whatever the issue is,
22:29 that could drive one into acute stress.
22:33 Another is what we call,
22:35 impaired relationship with Jesus Christ.
22:38 Where your faith and your Christian experience
22:42 is compromised.
22:44 People who are not able to open their hearts to Christ
22:48 are likely to become vulnerable.
22:51 Because now they run away from God rather than running to God.
22:57 Sometimes you have family members and friends
23:03 who are going through this acute stress,
23:06 who are going through this crisis.
23:08 And you feel crippled, you feel helpless,
23:11 and sometimes hopeless.
23:13 Because you don't know what to do.
23:15 You say, "I'm not a professional. "
23:18 "I don't know what to do. How do I reach out?"
23:20 How do we reach out to individuals who are
23:24 going through these severe crises?
23:28 One of the most difficult conversations to have
23:30 or experiences to face, is when somebody is in a severe crisis.
23:35 What do you do, as you said.
23:37 And many people don't respond because they
23:40 don't know what to do.
23:41 So, we'd like to look at some of the guidelines
23:44 that one might use.
23:45 The first thing we would identify is,
23:48 you want to listen to this person.
23:50 Give them an opportunity to tell their story.
23:53 To just vent, to just talk about what has happened
23:58 from their perspective at least.
24:00 You don't have to comment.
24:01 You just need to listen to what they have to say.
24:04 You notice we didn't say pray first.
24:06 It's not that we're underestimating or
24:08 undermining the power of prayer.
24:10 But sometimes, notice I say "sometimes",
24:14 when individuals are going through a crisis,
24:17 prayer might not be the first thing you do.
24:20 Listen carefully. Listen carefully.
24:23 Prayer might not be the "first" thing.
24:25 You may approach the person and you may say to them,
24:28 "Tell me how you feel. "
24:30 Let them vent, let them talk out,
24:33 get it off.
24:34 Then you say, "I hear what you're saying. "
24:38 "I understand your situation. Let me pray for you. "
24:42 So, it's not that prayer does not have
24:44 the power at the beginning.
24:45 But sometimes, prayer becomes more effective
24:48 when you allow the person to vent, calm down.
24:51 Then they can hear the prayer and it becomes more effective.
24:56 Another thing you might do is, in the crisis, there are
24:59 practical things that need to happen.
25:02 If it's a loss, as in a death, there's a funeral to plan.
25:06 There are other events surrounding the situation.
25:10 So the individual going through, or the family going through
25:13 the crisis, may need support in that regard.
25:16 Somebody to contact the people to make the plans.
25:19 To get the pastor to come over or whoever it is that
25:22 needs to be there to provide the kind of support.
25:25 Helping to transport people who are coming in town.
25:28 Just the practical mundane things.
25:31 We had a situation on my job recently, where one of our
25:33 colleagues lost her husband.
25:35 And there was nothing we could do.
25:37 And she was pretty affluent and didn't need financial resources.
25:41 But we took turns in just going to assist her with
25:45 much of the mundane things that she needed to do.
25:48 So that sometimes, is what might be helpful.
25:53 Another thing that we can do to help people to grieve,
25:55 is to provide an opportunity for them to reflect
25:59 on their significant other.
26:01 Allow them to talk and get it out.
26:04 Because it does help.
26:08 The story of Lazarus and his two sisters
26:12 is a story that helps us to understand that,
26:15 as families, we sometimes face crises,
26:19 and we have to go through our crises.
26:22 But it's also a reminder of, it does not matter
26:25 what the stress, what the issue, what the problem is,
26:28 that we can find help from Jesus Christ.
26:34 So we conclude...
26:37 One, families go through severe crises at times.
26:42 And these crises can render you dysfunctional.
26:45 They can cripple you at times.
26:49 Three, how we manage the crisis will determine
26:53 how we survive the crisis.
26:56 But like in the case of Lazarus and Mary and Martha,
27:00 don't you ever forget who Jesus is.
27:04 He is the Resurrection and the Life.
27:08 And the same Jesus who had the power to
27:11 go to that grave and say, "Lazarus, come forth. "
27:15 is the same Jesus that you and I serve today.
27:19 So whatever your situation, whatever your pain,
27:22 whatever your brokenness, whatever your crisis,
27:24 there is that Heavenly Father that you can go to.
27:29 And He will look at your situation,
27:31 and in His great love and infinite mercies for you,
27:34 He will say, "Come forth, come from your brokenness,
27:37 come from your pain, come from your anger,
27:40 come from your crisis. "
27:41 "Here is My love. Here is my peace. "
27:44 God bless you.


Revised 2014-12-17