The Initial Response may Determine the Future Recovery

Over the years, I’ve observed that many times the initial reaction to tragedy often dictates the final outcome of the situation.

I’m not talking about our split second response to disappointment, but the way a person responds in the days and weeks following the receipt of an unfortunate situation. Initially we react with emotions. That’s normal. The key is how we respond after the initial shock is gone. Ideally, as we mature, our response time should improve, shortening the reaction from the purely emotional release, which is natural, to the more confident and assured position, which is making rational decisions in spite of our emotional state.

Doing that takes discipline and practice.

Many people, it seems to me, never move beyond the emotional response and it cripples their potential for future recovery.

Let me give you an example.

Recently my oldest son Jeremy lost his job. His company downsized and, what he thought was a stable position, suddenly disappeared. He had been married less than a year and had weeks earlier purchased his first home. Jeremy is very mature for his age, so he handled the news better than some might have, but you can imagine the shock and disappointment was big for him.

For the first 24 hours he was numb, afraid, even a bit angry. I knew then that his reaction to this unexpected change of events would greatly determine his recovery period. I encouraged from the sidelines, but knew he ultimately had to own his response.

What happened? The next day he went to work. He weighed his options. He developed a plan. He took immediate action towards reaching his objective. The plans changed a few times in the coming weeks, but his resolve and confidence remained steadfast. Today he’s successfully working for himself. He’s only a couple months in, but already the signs of success are apparent. He’s recovering from disappointment into a better position, with more flexibility and job security, than he had previously. I’m so proud of him.

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The initial response to disappointment or uncertainty often determines the quality of recovery.

This principle has Biblical implications. Recently I saw this principle reading about Nehemiah. Nehemiah had just learned the wall of his home city had been destroyed. His people were in jeopardy. The potential for devastation to the Jews was huge.

How did Nehemiah respond?

“As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days” Nehemiah 1:4

That was his emotional response. Perfectly normal.

What happened next?

“and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”

That was his rational response. A sign of maturity.

Nehemiah knew that ultimately the protection of his people was God’s business, not his. He called upon God, because he knew that ultimately God was in control. In spite of the circumstances around him, God could be trusted.

There’s another example. Nehemiah was the cupbearer for the king. On one of his visits to serve the king, the king notices Nehemiah is not his bubbly personality as usual. The king asked Nehemiah what was wrong.

Look at Nehemiah’s response:

Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” Nehemiah 2:4

Imagine you’re standing before the most powerful man in the world and he asks you to state a request on your behalf. As we later learn, Nehemiah’s request would take him out of the king’s service. It was a huge request. How Nehemaih responded would greatly determine the outcome.

What did Nehemiah do in that moment? Verse 4 continues:

“So I prayed to the God of Heaven. And I said to the king…” (verses 4-5)

This time Nehemiah had less time to react. His initial reaction would greatly impact the quality of the response he received from the king. What happened next was greatly determined by his initial reaction.

Are you in the midst of a crisis? Have you received bad news? Are you disappointed with where your life is headed?

Your initial response may determine your future recovery.

Have you seen this principle at work?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • joanneellison says:

    I am in a season of having to put my faith in high gear and trust God. I have had to make a decision to trust and then continue to take action steps to step out in faith. Your post helped me remember to keep turning to the Lord. He has a plan.

  • Joe Lalonde says:

    Years ago, I was in a similar situation as your son. Newly married, house purchased 4 or 5 months prior, and let go from my job.

    It was rough but my wife and I made the right reactions. We mourned but then we went on with our lives. We continued praying and believing God was able. We hit the ground looking for leads and ways to bring in money. And God was faithful, money remained at the end of the month, and I landed a job that has a lot more flexibility and pay.

    Going through the time was rough. But we knew what we had to do. We had to keep our heads up, do what needed to be done, and not give up. Our attitudes decided where we were heading.

  • Meg Davis says:

    I reread that same story recently and was astounded to see the consistency of God's faithfulness to her! For example, the leperous servant to Elisha is speaking OF her when she returns to the country & is about to request the king for her land. A male representative already telling the king her story.

    This shows me it is our quietly developped character which affects not only how we handle disaster but also enables God to trust us with greater opportunities.

    Blessings to your son.

  • Thanks Ron for sharing this personal story of faith. It was encouraging to read this encouraging words this morning.

    I am reminded of the story from the book of 2 Kings Chapter 4: 25-.26.

    When Elisha saw the woman in the distance, the man of God said to his servant Gehazi, “Look! There’s the Shunammite! Run to meet her and ask her, ‘Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?’” “Everything is all right,” she said.

    When I was reading this, I was taken aback.Even after losing her child, she initaially responds that all is well. That positivity brings her son back to life ultimately.

  • […] The Initial Response may Determine the Future Recovery […]

  • I recently saw this with my brother. He had been a fireman for 23 years. He was two years away from retirement when he got fired. It was his own fault, as he admitted to me. But he took full responsibility for it. I was proud of him.

    After a few days of sorting through the emotions, he rolled him his sleeves and got to work. Within a week, he had several leads. With a couple of weeks, he had two offers. He took the most attractive one and is now in a more interesting job with better pay.

    Great post, Ron.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment here Michael. It must have been even harder for someone working 23 years in the same job. Sadly, many are having to make those type “recoveries” these days.My advice to my son was that in today's economy, he's almost more stable when working for himself.
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

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