For Lord’s Day, August 10, 2014
Jennifer shared something with me that she just read which I found really motivating and I want to share it with you.
Are you familiar with the meaning of the Chinese characters that make up the element word for “crisis”? The first character can be translated as “danger”; the second, as “opportunity”. See the image above (source: https://secure.mycart.net/client_images/catalog22647/pages/E868A.htm). Do you see your crises as dangerous opportunities? Maybe you should, as more than one American president has suggested pointing to this Asian insight in a motivational speech.
Now, an important disclaimer should be shared. Wikipedia notes: The Chinese word for “crisis” (simplified Chinese: 危机; traditional Chinese: 危機; pinyin: wēijī) is frequently invoked in Western motivational speaking because the word is composed of two sino-characters that can represent “danger” and “opportunity”. However this analysis is fallacious because the character pronounced jī (simplified Chinese: 机;traditional Chinese: 機) has other meanings besides “opportunity” … Chinese philologist Victor H. Mair of the University of Pennsylvania states the popular interpretation of wēijī as “danger” plus “opportunity” is a “widespread public misperception” in the English-speaking world. While wēi (危) does mean “dangerous” or “precarious”, the element jī (机) is highly polysemous. The basic theme common to its meanings is something like “critical point”. “Opportunity” in Chinese is instead a compound noun that contains jī, jīhuì (机会, literally “meeting a critical point”).
OK, so let’s understand “crisis” as as a “Critical Point”. Even better, really. Our most critical points in life surely are not safe, but they also truly can be major moments of revelation, release, reformation, and revival.
May we not uncover our crises and find the beginning of opportunities lying before our feet?
Maybe we should thus speak of a life crisis (midlife or otherwise) as a “Crossroads”. Choosing Christ’s abundant life along His narrow way at every juncture will always reveal later that it was a new opportunity for growth in grace and sanctification (the pain bringing the gain). So long as we face our crises taking steps of faith directed by God’s Word, He will always draw us closer to His wonderful Self through afflictions’ detours (Psalm 119:67, 71, 75). Robert Frosts’s poem, “The Road Not Taken”, comes to mind considering where our crises should lead us:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
At what critical crossroad point are you standing? We don’t choose the crossroads we face, but we do choose which path to take (the Lord helping us). What opportunity is clothed in your crisis presently? Are you looking for it? Are you following its lead? And what are you going to do with it? Your crisis doesn’t have to be your breaking point. May it become your new starting point.
I write this devotion while sitting with Jennifer during her eighth chemotherapy treatment, at which time she shared what she read with me about these Chinese characters making up the word for “crisis” while receiving her IV drip (for three hours before then getting her pump that she wears for the next two days at home). This motivating concept she found was in a book handed to her today here, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, in which authors Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson describe the second Chinese character discussed as including the ideas of having an opportunity for change, nourishment, happiness, and community. But they also gave this qualification: a crisis is “… a chance–not a guarantee, mind you, but a chance–to embrace life even while in the throes of serious illness.”
How are you handling your current crisis? Are you using it as an opportunity for new direction? If so, good things will happen.
You know, the reason the volunteer (herself a cancer survivor) handed my wife this book is because she was curious about another book Jennifer was reading at the moment about healing through special nutrition. Jenn found this Chinese “proverb” in the making, if you will, by taking a look. And due to the book she had brought with her and was reading, we have gotten a high end juicer to maximize vegetable and fruit nutrients in a modest and modified supplemental application of what is known as the Gerson Therapy. To do so, we asked God to provide such a juicer used and much cheaper online, and He did almost immediately! Not only is using the juicer going to help Jennifer now and proactively later, it will help me lose weight and it will help our children learn superb nutrition while they’re young. As well, we found the machine we chose also makes incredible sorbet with frozen fruit (nothing added) — an absolutely delicious treat that gives us great fun!
By God’s grace, we are taking lemons and making lemonade. Or rather, by God’s power and guidance, and with the love and support of you His saints, we are taking a sour providence and turning it into its intended sweetness. What about you?
May you make the most of every difficult moment to witness for Jesus Christ, trusting that you will be able to say what Joseph said at the end of a long string of excruciating experiences: … God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. (Genesis 50:20)