What if it’s a Category 5? Finding hope in time of crisis

Written by Jay Holland
Published on October 04, 2022

A friend of mine asked me about handling crises with a big picture perspective. And the truth is, sometimes worst-case scenarios do come true.  

Relationships can be destroyed. People can die. Knowing this possibility, how can one take a deep breath and make good decisions?

I first got this question as we were busily preparing for a hurricane. While we were spared the vast majority of its powers, others had their lives and livelihoods destroyed.  We were spared this time. Others weren’t.

Whether it’s a hurricane, an earthquake, or an unfavorable diagnosis, at some point, the worst-case scenario is going to hit you. And when it does, there are two looming questions that have to be answered.

1). What does this say about God?

2). What do I do now?

I feel like those two questions have dominated the last 20 years of my life. During that time:

  • I’ve been to college to study what the Bible says about God and people.

  • I’ve preached my first wife’s funeral at 28 years old.

  • I’ve heard the words “cancer” and “relapse” with my son. 

  • I’ve wrestled (this morning) with the fear that no treatment may fix a family member’s mental illness.

  • And most importantly, I’ve come to know Jesus in ways I never would have thought possible.  

These questions (What does this say about God? What do I do now?) can feel so overwhelming. And as a parent, I feel an even greater burden. 

My children are watching me and taking cues on how they should live through the same crisis. Once the bomb has gone off, how I respond not only affects me, it affects those who look to me for their support and stability.

Here is what I’ve learned through twenty years of experience with multiple Category 5 crises in my household:  

What does this say about God?

It is a wicked, false teaching that says if you love and trust God enough, you will be spared crisis and storm. We live in a fallen world. It’s ravaged by the effects of sin. This is one of the primary points of the Bible. God is no less good, holy, or kind just because terrible things happen. It’s the promised results of rebellion.

God never promised to deliver you from every storm. Cancer. Car Wrecks. Catastrophes. Betrayal. And at some point, we will all experience Category 5 suffering.

God did not promise to deliver you from all suffering. What He DID promise you was that he would be with you in the suffering. He promised to never leave you nor forsake you. And if you belong to Him, then he will work every bit of this nastiness for your good (Romans 8:28).

I can tell you from experience. He will be there.

God will be with you.

What do I do now?

Because the contexts of our sufferings are so different, it’s impossible to give a definitive list of “things” to do. But here’s a start:

  1. Stop trying to be God. You just cannot control everything. In fact, you can’t control most things. What you can control is how you respond. Will you give in to panic or choose to trust?
  2. Don’t live in the “what ifs.” There’s no such thing as hypothetical grace.  When you try to imagine the terrible things that might happen in the future, you’re doing so without the actual grace that God would give you to get through it. Not all of those “what if’s” are going to happen. Some might. Most won’t. But with the ones that do, God has promised to give you grace when the time comes… just not before (Matthew 6:25-34).
  3. Let other people help you. Have you ever heard the term “God will never give you more than you can handle”? It’s not true. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that God will not allow you to be tempted with sin beyond capacity to resist. But for the boulders in our lives, God often gives us more than we can handle because He designed us to need him and to need one another. You need other people. If someone wants to help, let them help! Stop trying to keep score. Walk in grace and humility.
  4. Take the 500 year perspective. Remember, you are built for eternity. Knowing this, think about the current crisis with the 500 year perspective. “How big of a deal will this be in 500 years?” Most things, even major current life events, will be no more than a blip on the screen in the long run. Hold fast to the long run.
  5. Lower your expectations. One time on the east coast of Florida we were expecting a category 5 and effectively got a strong wind storm. But there was still substantial damage and lost power, so we all lowered our expectations. We ate junk food. We took more naps. We released ourselves from our normal levels of “productivity.” And in the process, we had some really wonderful relational experiences. It was really freeing.
  6. If you can, go slow. Sometimes this isn’t possible. But when it is, it’s always wise to slow down when things get really rough. Most decisions really don’t have to be immediate, and if you take a little time, some of them will just work themselves out.
  7. Be with God. I have already said that God will be with you. But sometimes we ignore that, and we forget to be with God. Take advantage of his presence.  Take refuge in his word. Pray honest prayers. Pray the Psalms if you have no words of your own.
  8. Hope in God. I went to a concert recently that was for people struggling with self harm. From the stage, the concert organizers kept telling the audience to not give up hope, but there was no backing to their hope. They were hoping in… hope.  I’m telling you, hope in God.  He WILL be there. He WILL see you through. All of this darkness WILL be made right in eternity. Don’t give up hope.

Life is hard, but life is good. And many of the most important parts of our character are going to be shaped by those very hard things. 

As I look back on my Category 5 events, they include some of the deepest pains but also some of the richest times of love, grace, and unity in our family. 

Jesus is all about bringing blessing from the most broken things.

I pray you breathe deep, love hard, and know the Author of Life in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death.


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Jay Holland

Jay Holland is a follower of Jesus, a husband to Emily, and the biological and adoptive father of four children. For more than two decades Jay has served as a pastor in family and student ministries, and has walked through multiple special needs challenges within his own family.

Jay’s personal and pastoral experiences led him to launch the weekly Let’s Parent on Purpose podcast to equip and empower moms and dads to build thriving families. He serves at Covenant Fellowship Baptist Church in Stuart, Florida and is also on the board of Hopegivers, a ministry that cares for children and churches in India.

Read more about Jay

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