My title puts it a little more tactfully than some might, but the truth is, stuff happens. Sometimes good stuff happens…sometimes not so good stuff. The mark of a Jesus follower is not what kind of stuff happens to them, but how they respond when stuff happens.
Years ago Zig Ziglar used to say that when things happen to you, you can either react or respond. He used the illustration of a prescription you get from your doctor as an example. If your doctor gives you a prescription and asks to see you in three days, he will usually tell you then whether you’re reacting to the medicine or responding to the medicine. “Reacting” is usually not what you want. What you hope to hear is that your body is responding to the medication. One is negative, the other positive.
When “stuff happens” in our lives as Christ followers what should take place is a response not a reaction. Our response should be faith, trust, an assurance that God is in control and that all things work for our good and His glory. But many times we react with frustration, fear, doubt and anger. Think of the negative testimony our reactions leave behind.
Many are teaching today that if you have enough faith and believe God for His best that only good stuff will happen to you. Boy, somebody should have told the Apostle Paul: “I speak as if insane-- I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.…” (II Cor. 11: 23-25)… and yet Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11). Paul knew how to respond to “stuff” rather than react.
Although we ought always to be looking for God’s best, hoping and praying for victory, expecting the miracles that will “part the waters” and send “fire from heaven” we also need to prepare for the correct response when things don’t necessarily go the way we hoped. What is that response?
- Praise God…regardless of circumstances He is still worthy of praise.
- Trust God…in spite of what seems like a setback, God is still in control.
- Ask God…He really doesn’t mind if we ask Him why and honestly seek the answer.
- Believe God…He knows best and is working it out in our lives, even in the middle of bad stuff.
- Thank God…for the end result which will always bring Him glory is we allow it to.
Remember, respond…don’t react.