We need more of what those Moravians had.
The worldwide influence of 18th century Moravian missionaries was extraordinary. One notable example is the impact they had on John Wesley, leading directly to the beginning of his vital relationship with Christ.
Wesley kept a journal, and his entries covering the years 1736-1738 are replete with comments of his observations and encounters with the Moravians (whom he often called “the Germans”). In early 1736 Wesley was ship-bound for America and in the midst of a life-threatening storm he observed the Moravians on board with him.
There was now an opportunity of trying whether they were delivered from the spirit of fear…In the midst of the psalm wherewith their service began, the sea broke over, split the mainsail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks, as if the great deep had already swallowed us up.
A terrible screaming began among the English. The Germans calmly sang on. I asked one of them afterward, “Was not you afraid?” He answered, “I thank God, no.” I asked, “But were not your women and children afraid?” “No; our women and children are not afraid to die.”
From them, I went to their crying, trembling neighbours, and pointed out to them the difference in the hour of trial between him that feareth God, and him that feareth him not.”
One of the great litmus tests for the condition of our leader soul and the vitality of our faith in Christ our Lord is how we behave in times of personal crisis when the storms of life invade and fear has got us by the throat…whether natural disaster, illness, financial loss, the death of a loved one, or the threats of a pandemic.
What did the English passengers do in their moment of panic? Wesley tells us they screamed, cried, and trembled.
What did the Moravians do when the crisis raged? Fearlessly, they “sang on” and worshipped God through the perilous storm.
Reminds me of Paul and Silas. Flogged and chained to stocks in the dark recesses of the Philippian prison for preaching the gospel, what do they do?
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25)
Singing, worshipping, quoting scripture, praying…these are the disciplines of Christ-followers who in times of crisis know three things:
First, Jesus told his disciples on numerous occasions when they were overcome with fear to not be afraid. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” (John 14;1) David said it this way, “I trust in you, O Lord.” I say, “You are my God. My times are in your hands.” (Psalm 31:15) This truth is the ground of our settled peace in times of crisis.
Second, the experiential truth that the Lord is always with us in times of crisis fortifies the soul when waves of anxiety and doubt attack. Paul said, “Everyone deserted me, but the Lord stood beside me and gave me strength.” (2 Timothy 4;16-17)
Third, James reminds us that the Christian response to tribulation is the remarkable discipline of “consider it pure joy,” (James 1:2) because these trial moments are “faith-testers” that grow our confidence in the presence of God and in his promises to see us through.
One of the most inspiring examples of a worshiping faith stance in times of crisis was demonstrated by Judah’s King Jehoshaphat when enemy armies were at his city’s gate. After telling God, “Our eyes are on you,” he challenged the men of Judah, “do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
And then he did something remarkable. It says, “He appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 20:21) As a demonstration of robust faith, the worshippers took precedence over the soldiers!
When the crisis was red hot…singing, worshipping, praying, this is what Jehoshaphat and his army did. This is what Paul and Silas did. This is what the Moravians did.
Sometime, perhaps sooner than later, our next personal, family, or leadership crisis will arrive. If John Wesley were watching (and maybe he is!), what would he record in his journal about you and me?
May God grant each Corpath member the grace to live fearlessly, just like Jehoshaphat and his choir of worshippers, just like Paul and Silas…and just like those Moravians!
“Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side.”