How to Lead Through the Hard Times (A Lesson from Noah)
The Monday night men’s Bible study I lead has recently started studying the story of Noah. It is leading to a lot of fun discussion, as some in our group haven’t really wrestled with the truths found in this story since childhood. It is truly a fascinating story of God, sin and humanity once you get beyond the dimensions of the boat and the inventory of animals that walked in two by two.
What is striking about this story from the beginning is the context. It was a very dark time in human history. So dark, that practically every human being on the planet was consumed with depraved thoughts and actions. Life was so violent and so corrupt, that God grieved. His heart was pained. Far from the depiction of a vengeful or wrathful God that we sometimes assume from this story, we instead see a God filled with grief, pain and regret as He decides to destroy the earth and everything on it.
As you likely remember, God chose to preserve the human race through Moses’ family tree. God spoke to Moses and told him to build an ark – a huge task for any man at any time, but especially during the primitive days before technology and living in a desert.
But Moses obeys. He builds the ark. He loads the animals. And earthly life is able to be “born anew” after the floodwaters recede.
2020 has been the most challenging year that I have ever witnessed. While we are a far cry from the days leading up to the flood, it is a year that have left millions suffering from a whole slew of disasters and maladies, including COVID-19. I want to leave here a few simple lessons from Noah on how to not only survive hard times, but to lead through them:
Stand Out from the Crowd. “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time….But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:5,8). Noah was chosen as the vehicle through which the human race would persist because he was different. When everyone else was chasing after all of the wrong things, Moses was righteous. He was weird. He was the one that didn’t follow the crowd, but charted his own course…a course laid out by a devotion to God. When everyone else is fearful, have faith. When everyone else is being greedy, be generous. When the crowds turn mean and spiteful, be kind.
Trust. God chose Noah because God knew that Noah would trust him enough to carry through. How many people do you know that would build a giant ship in the middle of the desert? Often, God asks His people to do things that simply don’t make any sense. The Bible teaches us that, “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith is trusting that love wins, even when it seems like hate has the upper hand. Faith is waiting on God, when everything within you says to run. God may be preparing you to lead the way by asking you to do something or be someone in a situation that doesn’t make sense. Trust it.
Be patient. After loading the ark, it rained for forty days straight. It rained so much that the tops of the mountains were twenty feet below the water! All told, Moses and his family (along with all those smelly critters) were locked up in that boat for nearly a year. At that time, Noah sent out a dove on three different occasions. Two of those times, the dove returned. It wasn’t until the third flight that the dove found a place to nest. Sometimes we go through brief seasons of darkness. Other times, we are asked to wait. Some will lose heart and give up. Leaders persist. When you persist through hard times, hoping in the promise that God still holds you, you not only thrive personally, you inspire others to find hope as well. Your persistence in hope may just be the inspiration that someone near you desperately needs to see.
These are challenging times, and our world needs leaders. God is calling all of us, as His church to show the way.