React or Respond Do You Know the Difference?

React or Respond
Do You Know the Difference?

by Olga Hermans

Sometimes the biggest challenge in dealing with our problems is understanding what to do and how we should respond. To find the answers, we must seek God and His perspective on our situation. It is not the time to run away from God because we fear that He will be disappointed in us.

He understands that we will make mistakes along the way, and He promises never to condemn or turn His back on us. He is always there; ready to guide us to the next step in our lives.

When circumstances in our lives cause us discouragement or worry, we have to make a choice. Either we’re going to let it get the best of us by giving all our attention to it for the next days, months, or years, or we’re going to respond rather than choose to react.

Take the Back Seat

When we choose to respond, we give the steering wheel to God and take the back seat. I say the back seat because too often we take the passenger seat and are tempted to co-pilot. God doesn’t need our help to navigate through the storm; He is more than able to handle it. Remember, God already knows the end from the beginning.

Once we give God the wheel, we have to trust Him. For example, let’s say you were planning a road trip that you have never taken before. Your brother, on the other hand, is very familiar with the drive because he has traveled it many times.

In a case like this, it would be in your interest to let him navigate the trip. Through his experiences, he has learned all the detours to take to avoid traffic and construction and is, therefore, the best person for the job.

But if you sit in the passenger’s seat with an open map to co-pilot and begin questioning his judgment and telling him what the map says he should do, you’re going to frustrate him. Eventually he will stop the car and let you drive.

Then you’ll be in the same position you were in at the beginning – navigating the trip alone and needlessly exhausted by the experience. Had you allowed your brother to drive, and rested in his ability to do so, you would have arrived at your destination sooner, feeling refreshed and energized.

How Do We Treat God?

This is a good example of how we treat God sometimes. We ask Him to get involved in our situations, then, we begin telling Him what we want Him to do and how we want Him to do it. In our minds, we know just how the problem should be resolved.

When God’s plan appears to be different from our own we are tempted to take over the wheel. As a result, we become frustrated and disappointed with the outcome. Sometimes, without even realizing we have taken the wheel again, we blame God for the things that could have been avoided, had we given Him complete control.

To respond appropriately to the troubles in our life, our first decision should be to give all our cares to Him and leave them there! You see, responding and reacting are two different things. When things happen to us, it is natural to react.

What Happens When Our Emotions Get Involved?

When we react, our emotions get involved like crying, getting angry or taking revenge. It is okay to cry or to get angry, but then release it. Don’t seek revenge. Take control of the situation. God has given you the authority to speak life into your circumstances by responding with the faith you possess as an overcomer.

Even though He has given us emotions, it is not His will that they control our lives. When we stay in reaction mode, it leads to trouble. That’s when bitterness, envy, depression, and self pity set in. It is virtually impossible to have a positive attitude when these feelings overtake us.

Don’t let emotions fester for long periods of time. Let them go, and release your faith and start saying things like, “I know I’m coming out of this situation. This is a test that I am well able to pass. No matter what it looks like or how I feel, I trust God. He will never leave me or forsake me!” Before you know it, your situation will start to turn around.

God Desires To Guide Us

The second response is to allow God to guide us through difficult times. Being in constant prayer about the situation and reading the Word will give us the peace and direction we so desperately need. They help us to remain positive when everything inside of us wants to focus on the negative.

You will be surprised by how your perspective about the situation can change when you get God involved. There is no point in overreacting, questioning God, or feeling sorry for yourself. Reacting is never the best solution.

You can subscribe to The Daily Choice which is a SPIRITUAL Devotion that helps you to make the right choices in your life by clicking here




  1. Love this, Olga. I think it can also be helpful to have trusted spiritual counsel from a priest, minister, or friend who is a person “steeped in” prayer and the Word enough to provide the kind of wise guidance we may need. Often in these kinds of situations, we may need someone to help us step back and evaluate more fully, gaining the perspective needed to respond rather than react. Sometimes it’s easy to be so close to the situation and mislead ourselves, even, about God’s will for how we should proceed.
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  2. beautiful message Olga, it has really blessed me.

  3. Nalliah Thayabharan says:

    Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha was passing through a village where the people of that village were against him, against his teachings, so they gathered around him to abuse and insult him. They used ugly and vulgar words. Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha listened. Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha’s disciple Ananda, who was with him, got very angry, but he couldn’t say anything because Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha was listening so silently, so patiently, rather as if he was enjoying the whole thing.

    Then even the crowd became a little frustrated because Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha was not getting irritated and it seemed he was enjoying. Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha said, “If you are finished then allow me to move. I am to reach to the other village and they will be waiting for me. If something is still remaining in your mind, then when I am passing back by this route you can finish it.”

    Someone from the crowd said,
    “But we have been abusing and insulting you. Won’t you answer? Won’t you say something?”

    Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha said,
    “That is difficult. If you want reaction from me, then you are too late. Ten years before it would have been different because then I used to react. But I am now no longer so foolish. I see that you are angry, that’s why you are insulting me. I see your anger, the fire burning in your mind. I feel compassion for you. This is my response – I feel compassion for you. Unnecessarily you are troubled. Even if I am wrong, why should you get so irritated? That is not your business. If I am wrong I am going to hell, you will not go with me. If I am wrong I will suffer for it, you will not suffer for it. But it seems you love me so much and you think about me and consider me so much that you are so angry, irritated. You have left your work in the fields and you have come just to say a few things to me. I am thankful.”

    Just when Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha was leaving he said,
    “One thing more I would like to say to you. In the other village I left behind, a great crowd just like you had come there and they had brought many sweets just as a present for me, a gift from the village. But I told them that I don’t take sweets. They took the sweets back. I ask you, what will they do with those sweets?”

    So somebody from the crowd said,
    “What will they do? It is easy, there is no need to answer. They will distribute them in the village and they will enjoy.”

    So Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha said,
    “Now what will you do? You have brought only insults and I say I don’t take them. What will you do? I feel so sorry for you. You can insult me, that is up to you. But I don’t take it, that is up to me – whether I take it or not.” Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha said, ”I don’t take unnecessary things, useless things. I don’t get unnecessarily burdened. I feel compassion for you.”

    This is response. If a person is angry and we are present there, not with our past, we will feel always compassion. Reaction becomes anger, response always is compassion. We will see through the person. It will become transparent that the person is angry, suffering, in misery, and ill. When someone is in fever we don’t start beating the person and asking, ”Why are you having a fever? Why is your body hot? Why have you got a temperature?” We simply help the person to come out of it.

    If one spouse is angry the other spouse will feel compassion, will try in everyway to help the angry spouse to be out of it. One spouse is angry and the other spouse also gets angry is just mad and insane. We will look at the person, we will feel the misery the person is in, and we will help that person.

    But when the past comes in then everything goes wrong. Because the past is never finished, it comes into the present: it goes on and penetrates into the future. Just intellectual understanding won’t help. If we go deep in meditation our wounds will be thrown, a catharsis will happen. We become more and more clear inside, clarity is attained, we become like a mirror. We don’t have any wounds really, so no one can hit them. Then we can look at the person and respond.

    Reactions are unconscious, there’s little or no real thinking involved.
    Reaction is often emotional, which may demonstrate that we have a belief. If we can defend something rationally, we usually do. If we can’t, then we react emotionally instead.
    A response shows thoughtfulness, we can change our life by usingour intelligence to consider how best to respond. One secret of success is to think before we speak or write. Response has the same root as responsibility. Without taking responsibility for our actions, we will battle to achieve any goal or intended result. Our thoughts, our words and our actions create results. And if we want a certain outcome, then we need to focus our thoughts, and our words and our actions on its achievement.
    Response is always good, reaction is always bad. Response is always beautiful, reaction is always ugly. Avoid reactions and allow responses. Reaction is from the past, response is here and now. Our lives are not lost by dying; Our lives are lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.

  4. Carrie Huskey says:

    I think when ya react it is done with emotions. When ya respond its like ya answer something or someone. There’s no emotional answer.

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