Recently, I watched an inspiring Standford GSB (Graduate School of Business) interview with Eric Yuan, founder of Zoom—the video conferencing software. Many companies collapsed or faced a crisis during the pandemic, but Zoom blossomed into a ubiquitous communication app by turning the crisis into an opportunity for exponential growth.
I am sure all of you have used Zoom for family chats, business meetings, church gatherings, and global conferences. Many school classes went on Zoom, and even many couples married on Zoom during the pandemic. It grew from 2,000 employees to 6,000 in 18 months. Now, it’s worth $25 billion.
When Eric Yuan looked for investment as a startup company, no one wanted to invest in it, saying it was a competitive field. We already had established companies like Skype, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams. But Yuan wanted to prove them wrong, and he succeeded beyond anyone’s expectation.
Eric Yuan is a Christian, and his company culture is simple: “Delivering Happiness.” He said every employee is encouraged to maintain happiness within themselves so that they can deliver happiness to the world. Their company value is also in one simple word: “Care”—caring about Community, Customers, Company, Teammates, and Selves. You can see his focus on simplicity.
The mission of the company is to “Make communications frictionless and secure.” That’s why Zoom has won worldwide usage over competitors because it removes the friction of the video conferencing process. Zoom simplifies people’s lives.
Yuan says he treats every problem as an opportunity to grow. The Chinese word for “crisis” has two characters: “Danger and Opportunity” (危机 wei-ji). That means a crisis is a crossroads between danger and opportunity. Leaders sense the opportunity when most people only see the danger during a crisis. In fact, Jesus wants you to focus on the opportunity during a crisis.
Jesus says when you hear the news that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, don’t panic, but turn it into an opportunity for expansion. In today’s scripture lesson, Jesus teaches us how to turn a crisis into an opportunity. So, let’s learn from the greatest servant leader in human history, the Son of God himself, how to take advantage of a crisis for a fruitful future. Let’s begin!
[Hi, in case we haven’t met yet, I am Sam Stone, the Lightkeeper—you are the light of the world, and I am the keeper! (No pun intended). It’s my calling to help you shine your brightest so that God is glorified in you, and you are satisfied in God.]
The Scripture lesson today is from the Gospel according to Luke 21:5-19. [Listen to the Word of the Lord!]
When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”
7 They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 8 And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.
9 “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
12 “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13 This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15 for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your souls. (Luke 21:5–19).
[Happy are those who delight in God’s Word. Thanks be to God!]
The temple in Jerusalem had been rebuilt by Herod the Great for over thirty years and still had not fully finished when Jesus and his disciples visited the place. It was an ambitious project. According to Historian Josephus, some of the brick stones weighed well over 100 tons, the largest measuring 44 by 11 by 16 feet and weighing approximately 600 tons.
So, it’s not surprising that the disciples admired the glamorous temple buildings. However, Jesus foretold the destruction of the seemingly indestructible temple. It was like predicting the sinking of the Titanic, which was believed to built to be unsinkable.
“As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” (Luke 21:6).
I am sure the disciples were startled by Jesus’ statement about the temple’s destruction. For the Jews, that was the holiest home of their faith. To hear that “not one stone will be left upon another” was unimaginable. It meant the undoing of life as the disciples knew it. It triggered an existential crisis.
They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” (Luke 21:7).
Like all of us, the disciples wanted to know the external sign before the crisis. They asked for the handwriting in the sky. Jesus must be a little disappointed at their question because that was the same question the Pharisees and scribes asked him at the temple. Jesus expects them to focus on the inner strength rather than the outer sign.
Previously, Jesus taught them that “the kingdom is within you.” That means they should not depend on external signs but on the internal presence of God within their hearts. Jesus turned this into an opportunity to teach them three things not to do and three to do.
The Three Don’ts during Crisis
1. Do not be Misled
“Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. (Luke 21:8).
If you seek external signs, others can mislead you because you will look for someone to tell you when a crisis is coming. I am sure you have heard and seen in the news many people misled by cults or gurus that use fear-mongering to lead them astray.
I vividly remember Rev. Harold Camping predicted that the world was ending on September 4, 1994. At that time, many people believed him, sold their homes, gave everything away, and waited for the end time to come empty-handed. The day came and went, but nothing happened. They had to rebuild their lives from nothing.
Some years ago, Rev. Moon, a pastor in Korea, said he was Jesus who returned. Many people around the world still believed in him even today. People call his followers Moonies.
These are just a few examples of being led astray. So, don’t depend on other people to tell you when a major crisis is coming. Don’t even believe me if I told you Jesus is coming on a specific date. Jesus wants us to develop an intimate relationship with God within our hearts so that others can never mislead us.
2. Do not be Terrified
“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” (Luke 21:9).
When a crisis arises, the first natural reaction is panicking. People will run about like a chicken with its head cut off. Don’t be like them. Following this verse, Jesus lists terrifying events that trigger an existential crisis, including war, earthquakes, famines, plagues, and pandemics. Don’t be terrified.
You can’t turn the crisis into an opportunity when you are terrified. Jesus wants you to have internal peace, come what may so that you can become a guiding light in the dark times for those who are lost.
3. Do not be Defensive
“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you … you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name … So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance. (Luke 21:12, 14).
Another type of crisis is personal attacks—persecution, imprisonment, and accusation. But Jesus wants you to calm your mind and not be defensive. The phrase “make up your minds” is translated from a Greek idiom, “θέτε οὖν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις” (Thete hymon entais katiais), which literally means “to keep your heart settle down.” It is similar to what the Psalmist says,
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10).
When the crisis is upon you and when people try to harm you because you are doing what is right for Christ’s sake, don’t be defensive, but be still, calm, and collected. Only then can you receive the wisdom from above. A defensive heart is a troubled heart. Jesus said at another time of crisis,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1).
That leads to,
The Thee Dos during Crisis
1. Be Testimonial
“This will give you an opportunity to testify.” (Luke 21:13).
Jesus wants you to turn the crisis into an opportunity to testify. Instead of being defensive, be testimonial. The former is reactive, but the latter is proactive. Remember not to prepare in advance but be spontaneous by keeping your mind still and listening to God’s words and wisdom. Jesus said,
“for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.” (Luke 21:15).
God’s words and wisdom are better than your prepared defenses because your accusers cannot contradict them. That requires you to maintain humility, humor, and hospitality, as we discussed previously. Jesus wants you not to speak like a victim but as a victor during the crisis. Jesus said,
“… you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.” (v. 12b).
Many disciples were brought to the kings and governors for trial. That allowed them to talk to high-ranking officers whom they would never have had the opportunity to speak to otherwise. For example, the Jews took Paul to court for some made-up crimes. He was later sent to King Agrippa for a trial.
Paul turned that crisis into an opportunity to testify. After hearing Paul’s eloquent testimony, King Agrippa felt persuaded.
Agrippa said to Paul, “Are you so quickly persuading me to become a Christian?” Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am—except for these chains.” (Acts 26:28–29).
It was not just the king listening but a roomful of people watching the trial who heard his testimony. Even today in China, many communists have become Christians after they heard the testimonies of the Christians they tried to oppress. Christianity has expanded throughout history, riding the waves of crises.
2. Be Poised
But not a hair of your head will perish. (Luke 21:18).
Poise comes from God’s promises. Jesus promises that not a hair of your head will perish. Remember that it’s an ancient rabbinic tradition to use metaphors and exaggerations to deliver a memorable message. It’s a poetic license and not to be taken literally, but to hear the promise from the poetry.
I am at an age where my hairs have been falling daily without any crisis. The point is Jesus promises to keep you safe during crises. Jesus exaggerated to that you can remember and be poised. So get the message from the metaphor and remember the promise from the poetry. It is well with your soul!
Jesus also said, “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” That’s another encouraging promise that Jesus wants you to remember that gives you courage, security, and poise.
There are about 8,000 promises in the Bible. Do you know 85% of the Bible is about God’s promises? That’s why you need to read the Bible regularly to get familiar with God’s promises so that you have blessed assurance during a crisis.
Being familiar with the Bible also allows you to discern God’s words and wisdom you need for testifying during a crisis. If you are unfamiliar with God’s word, how do you know when God talks to you?
No crisis can affect your state of mind if you are assured nothing can harm you. That will allow you to be poised in the crisis, seize the opportunities, and testify without fear.
3. Be Endurant
“By your endurance you will gain your souls.” (Luke 21:19).
Standing against the storm is easy if the storm is short. Jesus is warning you that some crises could be prolonged and soul-sinking, causing a strong temptation to doubt and give up, so you need endurance. By your endurance, you will gain your soul.
With his many parables, Jesus reveals that faith is a marathon, not a sprint. He wants to see your light shining brightly until the crisis is over.
Jesus’ teaching of endurance doesn’t mean you bite the bullet and grind to the end. It just means being wise and staying awake to the end. The Parable of Ten Bridesmaids is a good example. The wise bridesmaids have extra oil to burn, but the foolish ones fall asleep and run out of oil.
Jesus is not talking about working hard but working smart. Being awake means not giving in to the temptation of losing your fruitful state and sinking into an unfruitful life.
Laozi teaches us to be like water. Water is soft, but no crisis can break the water. It will outlast the crisis. Water symbolizes humility, humor, and hospitality as it flows to the lowest places and stays there. It bends according to the shape of the environment and endures all things. Most importantly, water feeds nature with its hospitality.
Paul sees the benefit of suffering like this:
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” (Rom 5:3-4).
That means a crisis is an opportunity to grow personally. Endurance is not about grinding forward but rejoicing upward.
There we have it. Three don’ts during crisis:
1. Do not be Misled
2. Do not be Terrified
3. Do not be defensive
Here are the three dos:
1. Be Testimonial
2. Be Poised
3. Be Endurant
That’s it for today. I hope you find this message illuminating as much as I enjoy receiving it from the Head Office. Until we meet again, keep your light shining brighter and broader, and harvest the fruit of profound freedom and happiness.