In the days leading up to the war with Germany, the British government commissioned a series of posters. The idea was to capture encouraging slogans on paper and distribute them about the country. Capital letters in a distinct typeface were used, and a simple color format was selected. The only graphic was the crown of King George VI.
The first poster was distributed in September of 1939:
Soon thereafter a second poster was produced:
These two posters appeared up and down the British countryside. On railroad platforms, in pubs, stores, and restaurants, they littered the countryside. Then, a third poster was created yet never distributed. More than 2.5 million copies were printed and never seen until nearly sixty years later when a bookstore owner in northeast England discovered one in a box of old books he had purchased at an auction. It read:
The poster bore the same style of the first two posters. It was never released to the public, however, but was held in reserve for an extreme crisis, such as an invasion by Germany. The bookstore framed it and hung it on the wall. It became so popular that the bookstore began producing identical images of the original design on coffee mugs, postcards, and posters. Everyone, it seemed, appreciated the reminder from another generation to keep calm and carry on.
You can do the same. Things happen in life unexpectedly. Sometimes bad things do happen to good people. You can’t control the weather. You aren’t in charge of the economy. You can’t stop catastrophe’s from occurring, but what you can do is map out a strategy for contending with them. How we respond will determine the outcome of the circumstance with which we are faced. When a crisis comes…divorce, death, tragedy, financial loss, legal issues, personal problems, or problems at work, we are to remain strong in our faith; seek counsel from someone who has faced a similar challenge. Ask friends for prayer support. Look for resources and reach out to a support group and…the most important thing you can do is MAKE A PLAN and follow it through. When facing the valleys of life, author and pastor, Max Lucado offers this advice, “You will get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. Don’t be foolish or naive. But don’t despair either. With God’s help, you’ll get through this.”
If you are like most of us, there are times when we feel like giving up. Problem, problem, problem…crisis, problem, problem, problem…crisis. That seems to be the sequence we face during certain phases of our lives. Events will come our way that may turn our lives upside down. You do, however, have a say so in how the crisis will end. The equation E + R = O. (Events + Responses = Outcome) sums it all up. You can’t change the circumstance or event, but you do have control over how you respond thereby influencing the outcome itself.
There is nothing I treasure about going through a storm or drinking the cup of pain and suffering in my life, but I do cherish the learning experiences, the growth, and the wisdom that has come from each temporary set back. What is intended for evil can be used for ultimate good. Will you get through this? Yes, you will. Will it be painless? Probably not. Quick? Not in my experience. Will God use this mess for good? Yes, He has and He will. Foolish or naive in your thinking? Seek wisdom, be careful who you associate with, and make the decision to stay the course. Despair? Trust and reach down deep for strength that only comes through an unwavering faith. Will you get through this? Yes, you will. If I can, so can you.
Management guru Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen studied leadership in turbulent times. They looked at more than twenty thousand companies, sifting through data in search of an answer to this single question: Why in uncertain times do some companies thrive while others do not? They concluded, “Successful leaders are not more creative. They are not more visionary. They are not more charismatic. They are not more ambitious. They are not more blessed by luck. They are not more risk seeking. They are not more heroic. They are not more prone to making big, bold moves.” So what set them apart? One thing: “They all led their teams with a surprising method of self-control in an out-of-control world.” Self-control, calm, wise decisions made from facts, not emotion. Simple, yet the difference in a leader of a dying company and a leader of a thriving company. The world is full of the first and searches diligently for the latter.
In the end it’s not the flashy and flamboyant who survive. It is those with steady hands and sober minds. One plans, one doesn’t. One strategizes, one doesn’t. One is persistent, one is not. One wins, one loses…all for lack of a good plan.
We all may prefer a miracle for our crisis and desire to see the waters calmed before our very eyes, yet God’s sovereignty doesn’t negate our responsibility. It empowers us to think more clearly and react more decisively. Like Nehemiah, “We prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.” (Neh. 4:9 NIV) Prayed and posted. Trusted and acted. Trust to do what you can’t. Obey to do what you can. All things are possible to those who believe. Trust, believe, and then, most importantly, act. As the ancient Chinese proverb says, “Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very, long time. Every day is another chance, one day closer to peace, and one day farther away from the past.
A crisis can be temporary or permanent depending on how you respond. Choose to respond to it as a temporary set back rather than a permanent defeat. A set back that is a set up for a come back. Don’t give up. Don’t listen to the “you can’t” voices. Don’t let a crisis become a ruin and paralyze you. Don’t let sadness overwhelm you or fears intimidate you. Doing nothing is the wrong thing. Doing something is the right thing. Believing is the highest thing. And always remember…KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON
“If we did not have winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” -Anne Bradstreet