On my eleventh birthday, I remember sitting down to unwrap the only present I received that year from my parents. As I tore off the paper, I quickly found one of those rectangle white boxes that usually meant one thing...clothes. As I pulled off the top of the box, I discovered a pair of teal and black sweat pants that had removable legs so they could become shorts. I know you are sensing the excitement already. I actually didn't know how to react. There were a ton of ungrateful thoughts racing through my mind: "Don't my parents know that I like anything and everything baseball?", "What about a new video game for the Nintendo?", "How about just something to play with?"...none of these things actually came out of my mouth, but my mom knew right away that I was terribly disappointed. So after some questions and me trying to get over the disappointment, my incredibly gracious mother asked if I would like to go to the mall and pick something else out. I enthusiastically accepted! I was given a limit of $15 and I chose a Chicago Whitesox hat because Bo Jackson had just signed with them after being released by the Royals.
In Acts 14, we read of some responses that, I'm sure, we would consider overreactions:
8 While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting9 and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed. 10 So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking.
11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, “These men are gods in human form!” 12 They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul was Hermes, since he was the chief speaker.13 Now the temple of Zeus was located just outside the town. So the priest of the temple and the crowd brought bulls and wreaths of flowers to the town gates, and they prepared to offer sacrifices to the apostles.
14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting, 15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings—just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. 16 In the past he permitted all the nations to go their own ways, 17 but he never left them without evidence of himself and his goodness. For instance, he sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts.” 18 But even with these words, Paul and Barnabas could scarcely restrain the people from sacrificing to them.
19 Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. 20 But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.
Paul healed a crippled man. The response: The crowd proclaimed Paul and Barnabas as gods. Paul tries to communicate that the true God is the God who provides. He gives a short sermon that says God sends rain, God gives you crops, God gives you food, and food brings you joy. The response to the sermon: The people want to sacrifice things to them. Jewish people show up from the previous town, spread some rumors. The response: They stone Paul and drag him out of the city. Yes the man who they were just proclaiming as a god is now being pummeled with large rocks. Paul is laying on the ground, thought to be dead, he slowly opens his eyes, he feels the incredible pain, he sees there are other believers around him. The response: He gets up and goes back into the city.
How do you respond to difficult circumstances in your life? Are you one that typically overreacts? Or perhaps you are like me and you struggle to show any emotion no matter what is happening? It seems that we all are dealt challenging situations in life, we cannot control most of that. However, we can control the response.
With sincere love for each of you,