When a crisis looms or drops in your lap, how do you cope? Do you get angry, do you panic, do you pretend it’s not happening and hang out at the beach with your friends, ignoring the social distancing recommendation?
It’s easy to have an emotional response to the circumstances around us. That is natural. The difficulty lies in bringing balance to our emotions, so they don’t consume us.
Combining our emotions with reason and judgment is something that all of us struggle with. Sometimes our brains are so strongly conditioned to a certain emotional response in a given situation that we react without even thinking.
But the ability to manage our emotions well can make a huge difference in how we view the circumstances we find ourselves in and also how we respond to those circumstances.
Let’s look at two Bible characters, one who was overwhelmed by his emotions and another who successfully managed his. Both were placed in highly stressful situations and yet they had completely opposite reactions to an almost identical situation.
Our first Bible character is the prophet Elijah. His story is found in the book of 1 Kings beginning in chapter 17. Elijah was instrumental in leading the people of Israel away from worshipping idols and back to God.
His iconic showdown with the priests of the pagan god Baal on top of Mount Carmel was a significant turning point in the spiritual direction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel under the rule of King Ahab.
But Elijah incurred the wrath of Ahab’s wife, Queen Jezebel, who was an ardent follower of Baal and instrumental in introducing the cultic worship of the idol, the false god, to Israel. Incensed by Elijah’s blatant defiance of her god and his worship, Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah.
Terrified at the prospect Elijah turned tail and ran. He ran all the way to Mount Horeb where God met him and asked him a simple and poignant question “What are you doing here Elijah?”
God had just given Elijah a tremendous victory on Mount Carmel. He had demonstrated his power before the entire nation of Northern Israel and yet, despite this when Jezebel threatens him Elijah gives way to his fears and runs.
Elijah’s response to the threats of Jezebel is a classic example of how our emotions can overwhelm us and strip us of our ability to reason. If Elijah had been able to manage his emotions better, he would have been able to think through his situation more rationally.
He would have remembered how King Ahab had hunted for him for three years and how God had kept him safely hidden during that time. He would have remembered how God had sent ravens to feed him while the rest of the land shrivelled under an horrific drought.
But he didn’t remember any of this, all he could think of was Jezebel’s threat and his fear was so overwhelming that he ran. Without thinking, Elijah ran when running should have been the last thing on his mind.
On the other hand, remember Daniel was faced with a similar situation but reacted differently. Daniel woke up one morning to a knock on his door. Daniel chapter 2 details how King Nebuchadnezzar, incensed by the inability of his wise men to tell him about a dream he had, orders that all of them should be executed.
Being one of the King’s wise men but also completely unaware of the situation Daniel is informed early one morning by the King’s executioner that it is time to die for something he hadn’t done and wasn’t even aware of.
But Daniel doesn’t run. Instead he is calm. Surely he must have been afraid, or at the very least shocked. But he manages to control his emotions enough to ask intelligent questions and understand the situation.
Once he has a clear grasp of what is happening, he must have realized how impossible the situation was. No human being could possibly comply with the King’s absurd request. But he still doesn’t panic or give way to fear
Instead he asks for time, calls his friends together and prays, asking God for a solution to his problem and God answers him and provides just as He has promised. Daniel is able to go in before the King and tell him his dream and the interpretation.
If Daniel had responded to the situation as Elijah did, the outcomes might have been very different. Managing our emotions in times of crisis is crucial. When you’re faced with an overwhelming problem remember three things;
1. Stop, don’t jump to conclusions.
2. Ask questions.
3. Turn to God for solutions.
If you do these three things, chances are you’ll end up like Daniel. Victorious and in control of an otherwise impossible situation.
If you would like to develop your emotional intelligence, or your ability to cope better with a crisis, then I’d like to recommend the free gift we have to share with you today. It’s a booklet called Reach Your True Potential: IQ vs EQ.