At one point in time, just like many American families, our family loved American Idol. During Hollywood Week, when the contestants got to move on based only on the word of the judges, I was very surprised at the number of people who came out on stage crying because they were going through stressful situations or were having issues with the pressure. Instead of taking practical action, some of these people just stood there crying. These contestants faced a life or death situation (career-wise) and they just stood there paralyzed, crying. It was enough to make me want to reach through the television and slap some sense into them, yelling, "Pull yourself together, man!" Maybe that demonstrates a lack of compassion on my part but I'm sure the judges were sometimes tempted with the same thing.
That dynamic is echoed in Exodus 14, when the Israelites are escaping from Egypt. They had camped at the edge of the Red Sea when Pharaoh and his army caught up with them. The people panicked and cried out to the Lord but they just stood there crying and taking no practical action whatsoever. So The Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to break camp. As for you, lift up your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:15-16, HCSB). Did God lack compassion, demanding to know why they were standing there crying out to him instead of doing something? No. They were facing a life or death situation and God was grabbing them by the shoulders and shaking them while yelling, "Pull yourself together!" God could part the sea for them, but it would do no good if they were paralyzed by their fear and refused to move forward.
Each of our lives will be threatened with tragedy and disaster. Each of us will face times and events that attempt to overwhelm us, to glue us in our spot crying out to God but paralyzed and helpless to do more. When those times come, God will provide help for us, but we must be able to take a deep breath and then move forward. Cry out to God but don't panic. Don't allow yourself to become paralyzed by fear. Watch for God's escape route or accept the strength God provides and be ready to keep moving.
When disaster threatens you, don't just stand there crying. Trust God enough to take a breath and then the next step. God will provide a way for you to survive. Be ready to take it.