"A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back."
- Proverbs 29:11 NKJV
When I was facing some potentially serious health problems recently, I decided to keep them largely between myself and God. Normally, in a situation like this one, I would tell all of my closest family members and friends, but this time, I told no one but my husband. At first, I didn't feel right about my decision, and I told myself things like--"You need to share this with your loved ones. They have a right to know, and they will pray for you." But every time I was tempted to tell someone, I got a "check" in my spirit, sensing the Lord was telling me "no." This strategy turned out to be the right one for me, as it enabled me to stand in faith for the favorable outcome that I received in the end.
When I think about the way I handled this situation, I think of the word, "discreet." It's not a popular term these days, but perhaps it should be. A good definition of "discreet" says: "Marked by, exercising, or showing prudence and wise self-restraint in speech and behavior." Unfortunately, our society today has taught us to say exactly what we feel when we feel it. Some people call this "venting." But look at what the Bible says about this subject: "A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back." (Proverbs 29:11 NKJV) Sometimes, telling people our business is the last thing God wants us to do, because it can affect our faith and the outcome of our situation. If I had told my loved ones the scary situation I was facing, they would have sympathized with me. That doesn't necessarily sound like a bad thing, but it might have caused me to keep the focus on myself, and to feel sorry for myself, instead of keeping my focus on God and His promises, and resisting self-pity.
When others have an intimate knowledge of the trials we're going through, they will have certain expectations for our behavior that may hold us in bondage to our emotions. We may tend to feel sad or unsettled while they're around. We may unconsciously try to meet their negative expectations, when instead, God may be telling us--"Don't think like everyone else does." (Isaiah 8:11 NLT) Or, "Do not fear what they fear." (1 Peter 3:14 NIV) I found it so much easier to smile, joke, and be happy around those who had no idea of my mental anguish. The more I smiled and laughed, the more at ease I felt, and the more peace and joy I had in my heart. According to Scripture, when we lose our joy, we lose our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) Once our strength begins to diminish, it's nearly impossible for us to stand in faith for the victory, and we lose out on the blessings and rewards that God had in store for us.
When we're tempted to share our problems with others, we need to first examine our motives. Do we want them to feel sorry for us? Do we want to see them fret and worry on our behalf? Perhaps we're trying to subtly tell them: "See you're not the only one with problems--I have problems, too. Don't count on me for help." These are all ungodly attitudes that can prevent us from receiving God's best in our situation. If you're facing troubling circumstances today, don't automatically assume that you should confide in all of your loved ones. Seek God's will about who you should share your concerns with. Your faith and your future may depend on it.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I neglected to turn to You first in times of trouble. Give me the wisdom and self-control I need to share my concerns only with the people who will help me to receive Your best. Thank You that as I make "discreet" decisions, You will honor me with victory, success, and blessing.
- J. M. Farro