Stay Calm

Bible Reading: Ecclesiastes 12:9-12; 7:1-12, 15-29; 10; 11:1-6; 8:1

Stay calm through conflict:

"If a ruler's anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great errors to rest" (10:4 NIV). "If the boss is angry with you, don't quit! A quiet spirit will quiet his bad temper" (10:4 LB). "Don't leave your job just because your boss is angry with you. Remaining calm solves great problems" (10:4 NCV).

I have had to work with more than one boss who had a bad temper. I wanted, so many times, to say "I quit!" and walk out, but I knew I couldn't afford to do that. In each case, by staying on the job and working through the conflicts, in addition to growing professionally and personally, I eventually earned my employer's trust and respect.

The same principle works in a marriage. My first inclination, when my husband's "anger rises against me," is to fire back the most cutting comeback I can think of and then walk out (slamming the door behind me, of course, for a more dramatic effect). The gush of emotion is momentarily satisfying, but it throws fuel on the smoldering cinders of contempt. The only chance we have at resolving the issues is if at least one of us can remain in control of our emotions. If I am going to be the one to do that, I have to ask God to quiet my spirit and help me respond gently. "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Pr. 15:1).

Though not a natural or easy choice, grace can be a calm, cool rain on the fires of anger. By resisting the urge to quit on a marriage or a job when it is at its worst, our "calmness can lay great errors to rest."

Stay calm through sorrow:

"Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart" (7:3 NIV). "...for sadness has a refining influence on us" (7:3 LB). " may sadden your face, but it sharpens your understanding" (7:3 TEV).

This verse seems to contradict many of the Proverbs that prefer a joyful heart to a broken spirit and even prescribe it as "good medicine." There is, however, "a time to weep and a time to laugh" (3:4). Each is appropriate in its own time. When it is our "time to weep," we can fall into God's tender embrace while we allow grief to run its refining course. "Job is an example of a man who continued to trust the Lord in sorrow; from his experiences we can see how the Lord's plan finally ended in good, for he is full of tenderness and mercy" (James 5:11).

Sometimes sorrow results, not from loss, but from a conscience over sin. "It is the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have.... For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow" (2 Cor. 7:9-10 NLT). "Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done. Let there be sorrow and sincere grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy" (James 4:9 LB).

Lord, draw me closer to you when I experience grief or injustice. Use those times to deepen my character and strengthen my relationship with you and with others. When my actions and thoughts grieve you, move your Spirit within me to produce sorrow that leads me to repentance and change. When I am weary of sorrow and suffering, calm my spirit with a glimpse of your heart, which is "full of tenderness and mercy." Use your word to counsel, comfort and strengthen me. Increase my faith as I wait to see the goodness of your plan.