Facing the Unknown
by Shannon Wagers
As Americans we live a lifestyle of on-demand and comfort. Domino’s pizza started its “30 minutes or it’s free” campaign in 1979. Even more so now, consumers want products on demand. Amazon has built an entire business model around this with Prime. Kroger Clicklist offers time compression savings by simply placing your order online and it will be ready at the store for you. No longer are we held to just three national channels and PBS on our televisions. We no longer have to “Be kind and rewind” the VHS tape for the local video store. We have tons of video content from giants like Netflix and Disney Plus.
And then in a moment it can all change.
Learning from the Past, Charting the Unknown
Few times in my life has a national crisis emerged where in a matter of moments, life as we know it has changed. I learned much from my colleagues at Procter and Gamble on the eventful day of 9/11. Generously, mentors and friends from other nations provided guidance on practical steps to take to protect my family. “Get money, get food, get fuel, get home,” they shared with me from their experiences abroad.
More recently I remember another September event. On September 14, 2008, a windstorm stemming from Hurricane Ike knocked out power to most of Greater Cincinnati. This paralyzed communities for nearly a week. Grocery stores had no power and could not open to sell food and supplies. Restaurants could not serve meals to hungry customers without power. And the “taken for granted” moment of the week—gas stations had no ability to provide gasoline without power to the pumps. My family was fortunate to never have lost power at our home. In fact, we only lost “a comfort” in Internet service after the provider turned the main feed off to fix others’ outages. In this moment, we rallied to help our nearby friends affected by the outages.
Conventional wisdom says, “The worst time to prepare for a crisis is when you’re in the middle of one.” Military forces practice scenarios to simulate such events. Within P&G, I teach such a course to prepare young P&Gers to be ready for a business crisis. But here’s the thing: I’m not sure that most people would have ever expected the turn of events with COVID-19. Admittedly, I’m at the front of the line. There is so much to unpack and to process. Things are changing at a rapid pace—a lot of it unknown.
Action Steps to Live By
In many ways each day we face the unknown. It could be a life-changing crisis, a major decision, or something personally significant to you as an individual. To make sense of any of this current uncertainty, even if just a little, I look to seven principles that we can find in God’s Word.
“Never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NLT).
I often tell people with whom I share my faith, “The most honest simple prayer I know is ‘God, help!’” I’ve probably prayed this prayer more than any other. It’s brutally honest and opens our hearts to where God would lead us.
“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10, NLT).
Stop. Just stop. Remove the distractions and listen to God. It’s hard to listen if we’re not focusing on what God is trying to tell us.
“It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before” (Hebrews 11:7, NLT).
Noah listened to God. He prepared according to God’s instruction. There is no one-size-fits-all for every crisis or for how each household needs to prepare. Consider what your needs are—and act.
“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble and keep on praying” (Romans 12:12, NLT).
God’s Word tells us to be patient in trouble. This means at some point trouble will knock on our door. God calls us to be patient and rejoice in him as our hope in these times of crisis.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy” (James 1:2, NLT).
The book of James is one of my favorite books of the Bible. In that book, God calls upon us to count troubles as joy. Recently I was facing a personal crisis (at least I thought so at the time) and prayed, “God, I just want to turn on the radio hear something that I can praise you with.” I was expecting the latest, greatest praise and worship song. God’s sense of humor was on point that day as I turned on the radio to hear a speaker teaching a lesson on James 1. I heard you loud and clear that day, God!
“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:3, 4, NLT).
Persistence is one of my “life words.” On several occasions I’ve had the opportunity to speak to groups on this topic and share my personal story. Knowing that God will test my faith is reassuring. He has our best interests in mind and has given us everything we need to pass his test. It’s all in our best interests.
“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Hebrews 12:11, NLT).
We will face crisis and adversity. God’s Word tells that he has a harvest beyond this painful season. I believe that God will place you in situations to prepare you for something else. It could be for a moment to provide grace to another person or a moment of sharing one’s faith. Look for the lessons God is teaching you in times of trial and be assured that God’s discipline is one of preparation and love.
These seven “P’s” are but scratching the surface. The Bible is a PROMISE from God to us that he is in control of this world. Look to his Word for guidance and talk to him daily in prayer for assurance of that promise.
Shannon Wagers is a Corporate Trainer and Master Facilitator for P&G’s Innovation Lab called “The GYM.” Prior to this role, Shannon worked on product launches from well-known brands such as Tide, Olay, Old Spice, and Gillette. He and his wife Ruth (also a P&Ger) welcomed their daughter Katherine into the world on Christmas Eve 2019.