Pause Before Reacting
Lysa TerKeurst

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)

A few years ago, Art and I hit a rough place financially. Some investments we'd made went bad and we lost nearly our entire life savings. I was knee deep in 3 small children at the time and hadn't a clue that financial danger was looming on the horizon.

That is until Art came home one day and the look on his face spoke of utter defeat. How could we have lost so much? He'd been wise with our finances. He'd done his research. He was a faithful saver. I stood stunned in our foyer that day, as Art told me the news.

There were many different directions my reaction could have gone in the minutes that followed. I was upset. When Art first talked of making these particular investments, I shared with him that I didn't have a good feeling about it. But, in the end, I let him make the final decision.

So many times in my marriage, I've chosen the wrong words - words that were tainted with bitterness, words that were emotionally toxic. But I'm so thankful the Lord had been working on preparing my heart for this moment and instead of reacting immediately with what would have been a disastrous response, I paused. I allowed the Holy Spirit a few seconds to interrupt my natural flesh feelings.

Then, because of God's Spirit working in me, I was able to wrap my arms around my husband and speak life-giving words into his weary heart. "I love you Art. I loved you yesterday when we had everything. I love you today when we have nothing. I love you for who you are, not what you have."

A few years later, Art and I were on Dr. Dobson's Focus on the Family radio program. On the show Art was asked, "I know you and Lysa had a rough start to your marriage. But what happened that made you know you'd stick by her forever, no matter what?"

Without hesitation, Art recounted my reaction over the lost investments.

I cried.

Had I been left to my own flesh reaction that day, it could have set us on the road to marital disaster. But, because of God's response being stored up in me, this situation wound up bringing us closer together than we'd ever been.

I realized how crucial it is to always be aware of God's preparation in our lives. Because He stands in our yesterday, today and tomorrow, He sees all. And He knows the perfect way to prepare our hearts for every situation.

When we embrace His preparations, even a girl with firecrackers in her blood like me can have reactions that honor God and breathe life into relationships.

Dear Lord, remind me to pause before I react. Sometimes the stresses of life pull at my emotions, which cause me to have reactions that tear at my relationships. Please forgive me for poor reactions in my past. Thank You for second chances. Thank You for the way You prepare my heart for everything You see that I'll be facing today, tomorrow and in all my tomorrows to come. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Come hear Lysa speak in Dallas, Texas at the National Christian Book Expo. For more information, click here.

Visit Lysa TerKeurst’s blog

Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

The Bathtub is Overflowing but I Feel Drained by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Part of embracing His preparations are to pray prayers that make God my focus rather than my circumstances--- Here are a few I've been inspired to pray:

God, despite my circumstances, I will find reasons to praise You.

God, even when I feel disappointed by what life brings, I will trust You to bring good out of bad.

God, no matter what, I will hold on to You and Your truths.

God, my deepest desire is for more of You in me. And if that is the desire of my heart, I will never be disillusioned.

When hard situations arise, do I tend to react out of my emotions or out of a well-prepared heart of love? How might pausing help me to react better?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 15:4, "The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." (NIV)

John 15:4, "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." (NIV)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you sooo much for this devotional. I am currently dealing with a situation and I really needed to hear this message. My dear Heavenly Father knew just what I needed to hear/read lol. God bless!

Wow! This is so applicable today in my marriage too - thank you for your encouragement. The part that is still resonating in my soul is "speak life-giving words into to his weary heart".

I want to do that for him. Thank you for the push.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i needed this today, not for my mairrage, but for my kids. God is so faithful to minister to our hearts in the right time! ty for this!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our Heavenly Father does know what we need. I faced a situation last night that I am still praying about and needed to remember to 'pause before reacting'. I wll TRY to keep this in my heart and mind for future encounters. Thank you for all you do, God bless

Blogger horseprariechatter said...

Thanks so much for the devotional. Today my husband and I go to his aunt's funeral. It's a trying time for him, and I know the wrong tone or word could create disaster. I'm glad for the reminder to make God my focus, rather than the situation, to seek God's love and support rather than standing on my own.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is like we are sitting down to a cup of coffee and you know exactly where I am...where my heart is. Allowing great hurts of the past to touch my words of today. What a mess I am. Just the other day I was thinking how awful for finance to destroy what God has saved, our marraige. As I sit here I hear the words I said to my class last night...God's way is the best way. It may not make sense, may not be what we want to hear but it is the very best way to go.

Ultiamtely it is a choice,thank you for sharing your life so openly it has helped me to see more clearly and I choose God's way. Teach me your way Oh LORD, psalm 27:11.

Mary T

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is'nt just great how God knows just what to say to us, especially when we need it the most. He knows our hearts, our desires, our wants and especially our needs. We all can learn so much from this devotional and from his word if we continue in our faith. Our world is turning upside down in so many areas now, all the layoffs and people just trying to servive. When all we we need to do is trust in the Lord to take care of each and every situation. Just like she said in her devotional. Great one! Thanks!

Blogger Bobbey said...

You have no idea how much I needed this devotion. THANK YOU! I do have a question though. How is it you learn to PAUSE and not explode with emotion? I know it's not too late for this ancient mom to learn a new trick or two, and I WANT to learn. I NEED to learn so not to provoke my kids to anger.
Can you help me?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was good! Thank you so much for reminding me to pause and think(easier said than done) before I react on what I'm saying, it sure is amazing how God speaks to us especially me because as I am writing this I know my husband is upset at me and I'm hoping with that kind word that I will be giving him (which is hard to do being human, you just want to react on the same impulse that someone else is giving you), that God gives him a kind reaction(sorry Lord just being truthful).

Thank God for His STRENGTH!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should have stopped and read this today but some unexpected things happened and tripped me up. Reading it now, I can see it is the very devo I needed for today. If I have my quiet time first thing with God and had read this, I would have prayed the prayer and God would have helped me to pause me before those two angry reactions that I had today. We have to ask Him and trust Him to help us and give us that control to pause and then choose to react in the power of the Holy Spirit and not the way our flesh wants us to react.

Blogger Unknown said...

This was much needed. That's one thing that I need to do...pause before reacting. This really helped me, in my marriage, as a parent and as a person. Thanks!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really needed that! I am famous for over reacting and using harsh words. I pray that God will help to speak with Grace & kindness.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this much needed reminder. My husband rarely agrees to do anything with my family. I admit I resent this since I try so hard to love and do for his. I know I shouldn't harbor this resentment and pray the Lord will help me overcome this sin in my life. I need your reminder to PAUSE before speaking insteal of reacting out of emotion. Help me to leave the consequences to Him and not feel I have to "dish them out" myself. Help me overcome the hurt I feel and not try to strike back. Please pray for and with me that I can learn to leave it all in the Lord's hands.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This devotional has really hit my heart today. As my anniversary approaches, I realize that, in the past, I have crushed my husbands spirit because I let worry and "hard times" influence the words/tone I used.

I know that, when it comes to my marriage, I am a richly blessed woman. With God's help, I know I can turn from this way of speaking.

What a blessing this has been for me and has given me a renewed heart. Thank you so much and may God bless!

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