Do not [for a moment] be frightened or intimidated in anything by your
opponents and adversaries, for such [constancy and fearlessness] will be a
clear sign (proof and seal) to them of [their impending] destruction, but [a
sure token and evidence] of your deliverance and salvation, and that from
Learning to act according to God’s Word is much better than reacting
emotionally to circumstances. It is admittedly not always easy, but it is possible;
otherwise, God would not have instructed us to do so. In this chapter I want to
examine four different areas. I encourage you to ask yourself honestly how you
respond to them emotionally. The scripture above is one of Dave’s favorites, and
he quotes it often. If we can remain constant during the ever-changing tides of
life and the unwanted circumstances life brings, we will please God and find that
He always delivers us.
Change and Transition
Everything changes except God, and letting all the changes in our lives upset us
won’t keep them from occurring. People change, circumstances change, our
bodies change, our desires and passions change. One certainty in life is change.
We don’t mind change if we invite it, but when it comes uninvited, our emotions
can easily flare up.
John worked for an investment company for thirty-two years and was sure he
would retire from that company. Without warning, the company decided to sell
to a larger firm, whose management decided they didn’t want to keep a lot of the
employees, and John lost his job. He feels that he wasn’t treated fairly when he
was let go. Now what? John has a choice to make. He can either react
emotionally by getting upset, stressed out, anxious, angry, and worried, feeling
and saying lots of negative things. Or he can act on God’s Word and trust God to
be his vindicator and source of supply for every need. It is totally understandable
that John has these emotions, but if he chooses to react based on his feelings,
then he will be miserable and possibly make the other people in his life
miserable. If he chooses to make decisions based on God’s Word, however, he
can make the transition with far less turmoil. Would his anger dissipate right
away? Probably not. But if John truly gives his care over to God, his feelings
will calm down and he can be confident that God will continue to work in his
life, bringing justice for the injustice done to him.
Most changes take place without our permission. But we can choose to adapt.
If we refuse to make the transition in our minds and attitudes, then we are
making a huge mistake. Our refusal to adapt doesn’t change the circumstances,
but it does steal our peace and joy. Remember, if you can’t do anything about it,
then cast your care and let God take care of you.
For quite some time, Dave has met some of his friends a couple of times a
year to play golf for three days. It has been something he really enjoys, but over
the past couple of years he has found it necessary to make some changes. There
was a time when he and his friends played fifty-four holes of golf for two days
and then thirty-six holes the last day, but those days are past. It has become
harder physically for him to do that. He’s in great physical shape, but
nonetheless, he is seventy years old and very simply doesn’t have the same level
of endurance he once had.
While I was writing this book, Dave and his friends went to Florida for one
of their trips. When Dave returned home he said to me, “This was the last time
I’m doing this.” He told me how much hassle and effort it was to get there, and
that by the second day his back was tight and he had to ride in the cart and not
play part of the time. In addition to that, he was wearing a knee brace because
one of his knees was bothering him. He said he would have rather been home.
His body is changing, so he mentally transitioned. He told me, “I will still be
able to play, but now I will just do it a different way. The guys can come to St.
Louis so I don’t have to travel because they are younger than me. We can play
thirty-six holes instead of fifty-four the first two days and eighteen holes the last
day.” That still sounds pretty intense to me, but for him it was a big change. His
body is changing, and he is changing with it and keeping a good attitude about it.
Dave could have had a “male ego episode” and refused to admit that he was
not able to do the golf trips anymore in the same way he has always done them.
He could have gotten upset and decided he didn’t like getting older and all that
goes with it. But instead he acted on God’s Word and made the transition
gracefully. He realizes the day will come when he may need to make more
changes, and he has already set his mind that when it does come, he will do so
with a good attitude.
Since Dave enjoys his golf tremendously, I asked him how he would handle
it if for some reason he could not play anymore, and his answer was amazing.
He said, “I would probably be disappointed, but I would remember all the years I
did get to play and be thankful for that. I would adapt and find something else to
Learn to Adapt
Readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble
tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits.
In the previous chapter we discussed adapting to the different personalities we
encounter in life. Now we are discussing adapting to changing circumstances
that we cannot do anything about. How we respond emotionally determines how
much peace and joy we have. Our thoughts are the first thing we need to deal
with during change, because thoughts directly affect emotion. When
circumstances change, make the transition mentally, and your emotions will be a
lot easier to manage. If something changes that you are not ready for and did not
choose, you will more than likely have a variety of emotions about it, but by
acting on God’s Word and not merely reacting to the situation, you will be able
to manage your emotions instead of allowing them to manage you.
If you have read my other books or watched me on television, you already
know that I strongly recommend confessing the Word of God out loud. Even
though what you confess may be the opposite of how you feel, keep doing it.
God’s Word has inherent power to change your feelings. God’s Word also
brings comfort to us and quiets our distraught emotions. If you haven’t read my
previous book Power Thoughts, I recommend that you do. It gives an in-depth
understanding of the power of our thoughts and words over circumstances and
How do you respond to change? Do you act on God’s Word or merely react
to the situation? After the initial shock, are you willing to make a transition
mentally and emotionally?
Disappointed? Get Reappointed
Disappointment occurs when our plans are thwarted by something we had no
control over. We can be disappointed by unpleasant circumstances or by people
who let us down. We may feel disappointment with God when we’ve been
expecting Him to do something and He doesn’t. There are even times when we
are disappointed in ourselves. Absolutely nobody gets everything they want all
the time, so we need to learn how to deal properly with disappointment.
When we are disappointed, our emotions initially sink, and then sometimes
they flare up in anger. After some time goes by and we have thoroughly
expressed our anger, we may feel the sinking of emotions again. We feel down,
negative, discouraged, and depressed. The next time you are disappointed, pay
attention to the activity of your emotions, but instead of letting them take the
lead, make the decision to manage them. There is nothing unusual or wrong
about initial feelings of disappointment, but it is what we do from that point
forward that makes all the difference in the world.
I learned long ago that with God on our side, even though we will experience
disappointments in life, we can always get “reappointed.” If you or I have a
doctor’s appointment and he has an emergency and has to cancel, we simply
make another appointment. Life can be that way too. Trusting that God has a
good plan for us, and that our steps are ordered by Him, is the key to preventing
disappointment from turning into despair.
A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes
Man’s steps are ordered by the Lord. How then can a man understand his
These two scriptures have stabilized my emotions many times when I was in
a hurry to get somewhere and found myself at a standstill in traffic on the
highway. Initially, I get a sinking feeling, then I get aggravated, and then I say,
“Well, since my steps are ordered by the Lord, I will calm down and thank God
that I am right where He wants me.” I also remind myself that God may be
saving me from an accident farther down the road by keeping me where I am.
Trusting God is absolutely wonderful because it soothes our wild thoughts and
emotions when things don’t go the way we had planned.
How do you react when you get disappointed? How long does it take for you
to make a transition and get reappointed? Are you acting on the Word of God or
merely reacting emotionally to the circumstance? Are you controlled by what is
around you, or by Jesus, who lives inside you?
If we don’t ask ourselves questions and answer them honestly, we will spend
our entire lives never truly knowing ourselves. Remember, only the truth will
make you free (see John 8:32).
Trusting God completely and believing that His plan for you is infinitely
better than your own will prevent you from being disappointed with God. It is
impossible to be miffed at someone you really believe has your best interest in
mind. When you are angry you want to lash out at someone, but it is unwise to
make God your target. He is the only One who can help you and truly comfort
you; therefore, it is much better to run to Him in your pain than away from Him.
I Failed Myself
We expect certain things and behaviors from ourselves, and when we fail to live
up to those standards, it’s easy to get angry with ourselves. For some people, that
anger is deep-seated and long-standing. It is good to have high expectations of
yourself, but not unrealistic ones. Perfectionists especially have problems in this
area. They want to be perfect—and they never will be. We can be perfect in
heart, but we won’t arrive at perfection in our performance as long as we are in
flesh-and-blood bodies. Thankfully, we can grow spiritually and learn to behave
better, but I want to encourage you to learn how to celebrate even your small
victories instead of being angry with yourself. It is only natural to feel
disappointed in ourselves when we fail, but once again we need to not let the
disappointment turn into a deeper problem. Get reappointed by reminding
yourself that God loves you unconditionally and is changing you little by little.
Look at your progress instead of how far you have to go.
We all disappoint ourselves at times. A few years ago I behaved very badly
in a relationship, and to this day I am still sorry about the way I acted. I was
working with someone and our personalities did not blend well at all. After
trying for several years to make it work, I finally realized that I needed to make a
change for both our sakes. I kept putting it off because I didn’t want to hurt the
other person. The longer I waited, the more her weaknesses irritated me, and I
am sure mine irritated her. Because I felt trapped, it made me angry, and I
reacted to the way I felt instead of taking proper action and doing what I knew I
really needed to do.
I thought my reason for the procrastination was noble: I just didn’t want to
hurt her. But no matter how noble my motive was, I was still disobeying the
Holy Spirit’s leading, and that always ends up bad. When the relationship ended,
it was not pretty, and I know we both regretted it. I did all I knew to do to make
things right, but it was one of those situations that simply could not be fixed and
I felt really bad about it.
It took me awhile, but I finally received God’s forgiveness and made every
effort to learn from my mistake. Let me assure you that staying angry with
yourself because you failed won’t do any good. Are you disappointed with
yourself? If you are, then right now is the time to let it go and get reappointed. It
is time to stop living by how you feel.
Learning to Wait Well
Let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a
thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed
[with no defects], lacking in nothing.
If you have not developed patience, then having to wait may bring out the worst
in you. At least that was the case with me until I finally realized my emotional
reactions were not making things go faster. The Vines Greek Dictionary states
that patience is a fruit of the Spirit that grows only when we are subjected to
trials. We would all like to be patient, but we don’t want to develop patience
because that means behaving well while we are not getting what we want. And
Some people are naturally more patient than others due to their temperament,
but I have found that even very patient people have at least a few things that
irritate them more than others. As you may have guessed, Dave is very patient.
Waiting does not bother him all that much. He would be fine in the traffic jam
on the highway, unless of course it was going to make him late for his golf tee
time. He is a bit impatient with drivers on the road who do things he is sure he
would never do. But since his personality is easygoing and adaptable, waiting
isn’t that hard for him. It was however, very hard for me for many years. I
finally realized that God consistently allowed me to be put in situations where I
had no choice but to wait, and He did it so I could develop patience.
Patience is extremely important for people who want to glorify God and
enjoy their lives. If one is impatient, the situations they encounter in life will
certainly cause them to react emotionally. The next time you have to wait on
something or someone, instead of just reacting, try talking to yourself a little.
You might think, Getting upset will not make this go any faster, so I might as
well enjoy the wait. Then perhaps say out loud, “I am developing patience as I
wait so I am thankful for this situation.” By doing that, you will be acting on the
Word of God rather than reacting to the unpleasant circumstance.
Each time we exercise patience, we strengthen it, just as we develop our
muscles each time we exercise them. I get sore when I exercise, and it hurts, but
I know it is helping me. We can look at exercising patience the same way. Don’t
merely think about how hard and frustrating it is, but think about how peaceful
you will be when waiting never bothers you.
Do you wait well? How do you act when you’re working with someone who
is really slow at what they are trying to do? How does getting caught in a traffic
jam affect you? What if someone takes the parking space you have been waiting
for? The more intensely we want something, the more our emotions will act up if
we do not get it. Sometimes what we want is simply more important to us than it
should be, and we need to realize that and not behave childishly. Common sense
tells us that it is rather foolish to get into a rage over a parking space or some of
the other simple things people tend to get upset about. What situations are
difficult for you? How do you behave emotionally when you have to wait? On a
scale of 1 to 10, how well do you handle yourself when things don’t go your
way? I have found that honest answers to questions like these are helpful in
making progress toward managing our emotions.
Getting Along with People Who Are Difficult to Get Along with
How do you react to people who are rude? Do you respond in love as the Word
says we should, or do you join them in their ungodly behavior? Not one of us
appreciates irritable and irritating people. One definition of rudeness is being
abrupt and unpleasantly forceful. I think there are a lot of people in the world
like that today, largely because of the stressful lives most people live. People are
trying to do too much in too little time and have more responsibility than they
can realistically handle.
When a clerk in a store is rude to me, I can instantly feel my emotions start to
rise up. As I said earlier, emotions rise up and then move out, wanting us to
follow them. When I feel that, I know I need to take action. I have to reason with
myself and remember that the person being rude probably has a lot of problems
and she may not even realize how she sounds. I certainly remember lots of times
in my life when people asked me why I was being so harsh and I didn’t even
realize that I was. I just had a lot going on and felt pressured, so the pressure
escaped in harsh voice tones. That did not excuse my bad behavior, but it was
the root of the problem.
I am very thankful that I know the Word of God and have Him in my life to
help and comfort me. But I try to remember that a lot of people in the world who
are difficult to get along with don’t have that. I always want my behavior to be a
witness for Christ and not something that would make Him ashamed of me. That
being the case, I have had to work very hard with the Holy Spirit in developing
the ability to act on the Word of God when people are rude instead of merely
reacting to them with behavior that matches or tops theirs.
Jesus said that we have done nothing special if we treat people well who treat
us well, but if we are kind to someone who would qualify as an enemy then we
are doing well (see Luke 6:32–35).
This area is actually a very big one and presents a situation that we will deal
with on and off throughout all our lives. People are everywhere, and not all of
them are pleasant. So we must make a decision about how we are going to react
toward them. Will you act on the Word of God and love them for His sake? Or
will you merely react emotionally and end up perhaps acting worse than they
act? Have you ever let a rude person ruin your day? Make a decision that you
will not ever do that again because when you do, you are wasting some of the
precious time that God has given you. When a day is gone, you can never get it
back, so I urge you not to waste it being emotionally distraught over someone
you may never even see again.
If you are in a situation that requires you to be with one of these hard-to-get-
along-with people every day, I urge you to pray for them instead of reacting
emotionally to them. Our prayers open a door for God to work through.
Sometimes when we pray, God will lead us to confront a person like that. I am
not saying we just have to put up with the person’s bad behavior, but remember
that confrontation should still be done in the spirit of love.
Decision and confession: I can patiently wait for the things I want in life,
trusting God to bring them in His timing.