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The Way Out of a Spiritual Crisis

A member of the congregation loaned me a book, The Sure Victory, by Madame Chiang Kai-shek. Also known by her given name, Soong Mei-ling, Madame Chiang was the First Lady of the Republic of China. She rallied the Chinese people against the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s. Educated at Wellesley College, she made several visits to the U.S. to win support for the Chinese war effort against Japan. When her husband’s Nationalist government fell to the Communists in 1949, Madame Chiang retreated with her husband to Taiwan, but she continued to be active in international political and humanitarian efforts. Madame Chiang was a Christian. The Sure Victory is the story of her growing faith in the power of prayer, and her experience of being a woman of faith on an international stage.

Madame Chiang’s first spiritual crisis was her mother’s death in 1931, coupled with natural disasters and a rising Communist insurgency inside China and Japanese threats from the outside. She did not know how to bear the burdens of living without her mother to rely on. At that time, she noticed that her husband, who had recently converted to Christianity, was, with a great deal of difficulty, making his way through the Old Testament. Madame Chiang had taken a course in Old Testament at Wellesley. She dug out her old notes and helped her husband make sense of the history, poetry, and prayers of God’s covenant people. That experience led to the couple praying together every

morning and evening. She wrote that, with faithfulness to prayer and learning over the years, there often came “a feeling of deep spiritual peace… bringing a completely annihilated self, with the mind in quiet and continuous absorption in the keen contemplation of God.”

These days, many of us are experiencing a similar spiritual crisis brought about by the combination of personal grief, political crises, and public health disasters. I wonder if the path to healing and wholeness for Christians in crisis lies along the same paths that Madame Chiang ventured: mentoring and teaching new Christians. Take a look around you. Who do you know who is new to the faith, or is delving deeper into discipleship? Come along beside them, and offer your wisdom and experience to them. See if you don’t find a deeper peace, one that the turmoil of the present moment can’t disturb.

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