I was sitting at the dining room table, checking email on my phone, when the black blur skittered up my purple sleeve and across my shoulder. The tickle of eight scurrying legs traveled up my neck, across my cheek, and onto my hair.
Quicker than a frog tongue snapping up a fly, I hopped to my feet and did the one-arm-slap-myself-dance. My flailing swats sent the spider flying off my person and onto the tablecloth.
I cried out for help as I watched my dime-sized attacker zipping down then up the table leg and under the tablecloth at lightning speed.
Enter husband to the rescue!
After a minute/felt-like-and-hour search, the pencil eraser sized spider was curled up on the carpet.
Hmm. It looked much bigger when it was invading my personal space.
Alan looked at me and shook his head. “You’re going to be hurting after hopping around like that.”
I chose silence. But in my mind, I seethed with sarcasm.
Why didn’t I think about that, Honey? Maybe it was because I was being attacked by a spider the size of a nickel! At least that’s what it felt like at the time.
Yes, like a fisherman’s tale of the morning’s catch, the spider got larger every time I thought about it. And the more I thought about it, I realized that by reacting to unsavory surprises I caused myself pain more times than I would like to admit. In my overreacting, I often hurt others more than I hurt myself.
In 1 Samuel 25, Scripture shares an example of David reacting instead of responding to an unsavory situation.
David sent some of his men to ask Nabal for supplies. He was shocked when the rich man refused to help. After all, David and his men had asked nicely, even though they had the power to take what they wanted by force. They had protected Nabal’s shepherds and their herds. David expected a little gratitude. Nabal was anything but grateful.
The Bible says that David immediately reacted to Nabal’s refusal in anger. He gave the order to slaughter Nabal and every one of the men under his charge (vv. 21-22).
Thank goodness God is always working behind the scenes!
Nabal’s wife, Abigail, became the voice of peace. She reminded David that hasty reactions can result in painful, long-lasting consequences (vv. 26-31).
David pondered Abigail’s words, which is a beautiful expression of his humility considering how women were viewed in his culture during the Old Testament times. He chose to respond by trusting the Lord to handle the situation as he proceeded to live in obedience and faith (vv. 32-35). And God continued to bless David.
When we’re surprised or upset by circumstances like David, it’s tempting to react without considering future consequences. This can lead to regret and a long list of apologies required.
God gives us the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and the church to guide us in wisdom and truth.
But it’s hard to hear anything, much less honor the Lord, when we’re reacting to situations based on our feelings alone.
We can avoid much pain and hardship when we stop to think about how our actions might affect others. When we listen to wise counsel and pray before we make decisions, we can avoid reacting in anger or fear.
Will I respond calmly the next time a spider plops onto any portion of my body?
But, I will ask God to keep my spirit calm and focused on Him so I can respond with wisdom instead of reacting to my feelings the next time I’m surprised or hurt by the unsavory surprises in life.
What helps you to respond instead of react to bad or difficult circumstances?
How did you deal with the collateral damage after your negative reaction caused painful consequences in your life and/or in the lives of someone you love?