How do you handle sudden trouble? All of us have experienced the system-shock of an unexpected and sudden break in the flow of living. The way you respond speaks loudly and accurately about what is really true of the inner you (hot water brings out our true flavor). I’m thinking about a repair I was doing on a Ford truck earlier this year. I had just finished a relatively challenging front axle replacement during which I had to exercise patience. I was rather satisfied at how well I had prayed through various difficulties and allowed God to give me peace in the process. But the very last task, tightening a little nut on the end, plunged me into today’s opening question scenario. Just as I was about to let off the ratchet wrench, I heard a snap…broken! So how did I respond, what did this boiling water bring out of me? To be honest, despair was first (I know that’s sounds like a strong reaction, but it’s true), followed by anger (but the worst word I used was “crap!”), and then a gnawing burn in the pit of my stomach. This was not the Spirit-filled response I wanted to have. But here’s the good news…this downward spiral lasted for only a minute before peace returned and I was able to pray through the problem! The result: I hopped in my car and went to the parts store and bought a new axle. The re-replacement went very quickly and ended well. What has me thinking along these lines today, started in my morning Bible reading in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. This is one of the “Wisdom Books” so named because of the practical, effective principles that are taught. The fourth verse of chapter ten is what jumped out at me, “If a ruler’s anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great errors to rest.” Yes, I know my situation (and most of ours) had nothing to do with kings and servants, but it’s the underlying principle that I have been learning and growing into that can have such a great impact. In our jam-packed culture we have learned to be reactors, that is, we have violent, emotional, overpowering reactions to sudden trouble (having the king mad at you is real trouble!). We’ve been taught we must DO something…quick! The problem is that most actions that come from reactions make things worse. Our first “move”, should be, according to today’s verse, “do not leave your post.” That means don’t make sudden changes. I’m reminded of advice often given to widows when their husbands have died. They are counseled not to make any major decisions for a year. Don’t sell the house, cash in the cd’s, etc… The same goes for us. When confronted with the dreadful surprise of a doctor’s phone call (or maybe the police), angry conversation, unexpected bill, and whatever you are thinking about at this moment, do not leave your post. Don’t run away, don’t make a hasty decision, don’t quit your job, file for divorce, or abandon your faith-walk. The result of reigning in your reaction comes next in the verse: “calmness can lay great errors to rest.” I see two big things at play here. One is that nothing is rarely as terrifying as it seems when you first hear of it. Staying at your post often (I mean really, really often) allows time for the overstated, sensational, but untrue aspects of a situation to fall away. The second thing is even more important. When I deny myself the right to take control through reacting, I hand control over to God, who knows way more about it and has the right solution. A verse from the New Testament gives voice to this truth: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT). What is threatening to overwhelm you today? Stay at your post! Don’t do drastic things. Calm down, give them over to Jesus, and find peace and guidance.