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A Biblical Perspective of Crisis Intervention
Crisis strikes every single person at one time or another during their lifetimes. It is usually beyond the individual to control the circumstances that lead to a specific event, or at least it seems that way. Modern day psychology has many answers which more often than not take the onus of the blame for any situation away from the recipient of the crisis. Though there may be no human fault for some crisis (e.g. natural disasters), there remain many potential crisis that could have been avoided. Secular psychology has little help for such situations other than helping people not feel guilty, give themselves positive reinforcement and attempt to cope with the situation after it has occurred. However, there is a hope that can reduce the possibility of crises before they happen.
The Bible has always been a help in times of trouble, but it also gives instruction that can lessen the possibility of that trouble ever occurring in the first place. Living in a way that is concurrent with the wishes and will of God helps balance one's life to the point where crises are minimized even if they cannot be avoided. Crisis intervention starts before the crisis ever begins, and the Bible offers practical solutions to anything that can occur. Before understanding exactly how the Bible can help, it is necessary to understand crisis and crisis intervention, define types of crisis, and look at ways that will prove unsuccessful in the long run.
It is difficult to determine an exact definition of crisis because what can be considered a crisis is different for every individual. However, many have made attempts to give a broad explanation of the topic which can be a good starting point for discussion. Martin (2011) states;
"It is well-known in the world of psychology that a person experiencing a crisis tends to become unbalanced. This is caused by a distortion of one's equilibrium from the overwhelming circumstances of a given situation. Essentially the normal ability to render logical decisions becomes overwhelming if not impossible."
It can also be seen as "a temporary state of upset and disorganization, characterized by an inability to cope with a particular situation using customary methods of problem solving, and by the potential for a radically positive or negative outcome" (Kantor, 2002). Many of the different definitions of crisis discuss some degree of balance lost. People have an everyday equilibrium that is set by their occupation, home life, relationships, etc. which, if it is lost, can easily disorient and confuse (Hoy, 2007). Other definitions of crisis focus more directly on the stressors that can cause an individual to experience crisis and the steps that occur to exacerbate a stressful situation (Vecchi, 2009). Since every person experiences stress in different ways though, the researchers responsible for these definitions make a point to be very broad in their approach to a definition. The best definitions of crisis come from the Bible. Job saw a true destruction of all that he possessed, all of his offspring, and painful physical woes. He truly understood what a crisis was. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and then falsely accused of cavorting with his employer's wife. Jonah was swallowed by a big fish, Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, and Paul was stoned among other things. All of these examples of crisis point to the true definition because they get at the root of crisis. The Bible says in I Peter 5:8 that people should "be sober and vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Satan seeks to see crisis in the lives of everyone. When a person is in a state of crisis they are where Satan wants them: helpless and, seemingly, alone.
For those people in that state, there has to be some form of relief. One author says that crisis intervention as "methods used to offer immediate, short-term help to individuals who experience an event that produces emotional, mental, physical, and behavioral distress or problems" (Thomas, 2011) . Another definition comes from the research into how social workers are taught and is stated as the "immediate, active, and directive focus on restoring client systems to their previous level of functioning by capitalizing on the heightened motivation, capacity, and opportunity engendered by crisis" (Gelman & Mirabito, 2005). These two definitions are distinct from one another. The fist is from a decidedly Christian counseling position and talks about the positive possibilities that exist in helping a person through crisis. The second definition is the humanistic perspective that is taught to social workers in a Master's program. This definition seems to focus on capitalizing on the crisis. Of course, someone is going to be more motivated by the crisis to change certain areas in their lives, and that could be a very positive outcome. However, the secular stance falls a little short of what the true Biblical position is. The person in the second definition seeks to restore "client systems to their precious level of functioning" (Gelman & Mirabito, 2005). From the Christian perspective this is a less than desirable outcome. If the person goes back to where they were before the crisis occurred, then what did they learn? It is likely that the same crisis will occur again because the only returned to a former level of functioning. The goal is growth through crisis. God allows crisis to occur so that His people can grow closer to Him. He never desires that people remain in a previous place, since all were originally in sin (Romans 3:23). Thus, the Biblical definition of crisis intervention would be what Solomon learns at the end of his research and relates to the rest of the world in Ecclesiastes 12: 13 "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all" (NKJV).
Types of Crisis
God is at the center of true crisis intervention and growth, but there are many events that happen in a person's life that teach allow them to grow by either leaps or simply inch upward. The level of crisis is determined by the amount of growth that is required. God wanted Jonah to preach to the Ninevites, but Jonah wanted them to remain in their sin and perish because of it. This led to a crisis from which Jonah had only one escape. He had to pray that God release him from his punishment, and promise that he would do what he was originally instructed to do.
Of course, most crises are not this severe, nor are they directly ordained by God. People are very adept at bringing about their own crises without the assistance of either God or His counterpart Satan. The desire for people to go their own way is as old as the first man and woman. "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of the fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate" (Genesis 3:6). This is a type of crisis, but it not the only way that people fall away from the path and foment crisis in their own lives.
Hipple & Beamish (2007) break crisis down into two different types. Of course, this may be overly simplistic, but these two types get at the broad perspective of crisis. First there is "situational life crisis." These are events which occur every day, and are relatively minor. The car will not start because the battery discharged during the night, someone cuts someone else off in traffic, work is piling up on the job too fast to compensate. All of these are crises to some people that can easily be overcome with a call to AAA, by realizing that the person cutting everyone else off is probably in a crisis of their own, or by systematically completing the jobs in a prioritized manner. Most people can complete some self counseling or talk to a friend or coworker to get past these crises. However, the second type require a more intense response. Hipple and Beamish (2007) call these developmental life crises. These are the type of situations through which a person either grows or stagnates. Erik Erikson was instrumental in determining one of the most accepted models of psychosocial development. Through the entire life span, people experience crises in life that help them reach certain developmental goals. How each individual responds to these times of crisis determines whether they will be able to successfully move on to the next stage of growth or not (Dykeman, 2005). These developmental crisis are encompassed in events such as starting school, first love, leaving home for the first time, getting and changing jobs, divorce, death of a parent, impending personal death (Hipple & Beamish, 2007). All of these…[continue]
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