Years ago my dad said, “In every situation, you get to choose how to react. You often have the right or reason to react one way, but it may not be appropriate or most importantly, in your benefit.” 

I have no idea how these wise words stuck with me because, at the time, I was a short-tempered middle school kid ready to punch some jerk in the face the next day in the school parking lot. Thankfully, I took his words to heart, and neither of us got punched.

I shared this quote with a group of men I have the honor of leading, and the consensus across the room was that if they had walked out my dad’s wisdom, many of them would have avoided making major negative life-altering choices. Their responses resonate with me while we continue to walk through the mystery of Cora’s health issues. I keep reminding myself that even though I’m angry and immensely frustrated that we don’t have the answers to make her better, I need to take a breath and not do anything stupid.

This past week, my wife has been doing some spring cleaning and rearranging the house, and I’ve noticed that a picture I bought her years ago keeps moving from room to room. It seems at every turn it catches my eye.

Little did Anna know these words were precisely what I needed to hear each day I ran into them. When I’m scared, I do things that have not been thought through, and when I’m dismayed, I do even dumber things yet. You’ve heard the adage that “desperate times call for desperate measures,” and I would say that times are never truly desperate when you have God’s promises to strengthen you to stand again. Heck, forget standing. Lately, I’ve been using His word just to keep my head above water.

Are you at the end of your rope? 

Remember, “In every situation, you get to choose how to react,” and I’m choosing not to believe that these are desperate times that require desperate strategies. I’m reminded of my heavenly Father’s comforting words, Be still and know that I am God.” I am choosing to pause and double down, watching closely for His plan to be seen, worked out, and glorified through all of this.

If you are in the throes of dismay, grief, or turbulence, let me know how I can be praying for you as well. We will get through this together!

In His service and at yours


Published by Shawn McCarthy

While serving as the Weekend Experience Pastor at Seacoast Church, I felt God prompting me to share the moments when He would speak His truth into my life through scripture in a way that made sense to me, giving me tangible ways to learn, grow and lead. These promptings turned into weekly emails that I would send my small groups and volunteer teams. I found myself enjoying the process of digging deeper into God’s Word, being stretched by the writing process, and encouraging others in the faith. My lovely wife, Anna, challenged me to begin this blog, so these moments that I have come to call, my “Red-Letter Moments,” can find a home. My prayer is that you will find hope, comfort, and inspiration here, and above all, you will come to know that the God of the universe loves you and desires a personal relationship with you.”

3 thoughts on “Dismayed

  1. Don’t we all have desperate times?!! We have just come through (at least part of one) and all during that time, leaning on our Heavenly Father and praying Christian friends to see us through. Each week I read your thoughtful words and put myself in a similar situation. I am always encouraged. We continue to pray for Cora, Mom, and Dad. God bless your family.


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