Slow to chide and swift to bless

Ashley Bennett leaps the chasm at Stand Rock in 1886.

“Praise Him for His grace and favor / To His people in distress; / Praise Him still the same forever, / Slow to chide and swift to bless; / Alleluia, alleluia! / Glorious in His faithfulness.”- Lutheran Service Book 793, verse 2

“The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out, ‘Yahweh! The LORD.  The God of compassion and mercy!  I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.  I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.”- Exodus 34:6-7 (NIV)

At the age of fourteen, H. H. Bennett moved with his family to Kilbourn City (aka Wisconsin Dells), WI.  There he pursued a career as a carpenter.  Several years later, while on picket duty during the Civil War, Bennett slipped on muddy ground.  His gun discharged, wounding his right hand.  However, Bennett refused the request of army surgeons to amputate.  Because he hoped to resume work as a carpenter after the war.

However, his injury precluded that option.  So, in 1865, Bennett purchased a photography studio in Kilbourn City.  His primary interest centered on landscape photography.  Consequently, to take pictures of the Dells, Bennett created a portable darkroom.  He often used a boat to transport it around the region.  Furthermore, he’d wait for hours just to get the right lighting.

Then, in 1886, Bennett took his most famous picture.  A photo made possible through Bennett’s development of a stop action shutter — using rubber band technology.  Ashley, then about sixteen, leapt over the 5 1/2 – foot gap to Stand Rock.  Stand Rock stood 54 feet in height.  Most significantly, Ashley took seventeen jumps before his father got the perfect shot.  Today a German shepherd and a blue heeler replicate the feat — with a safety net below.

Writing in his latest book, The Joy Challenge, Randy Frazee underscores that Christ calls us to live distinctively different lives.  Lives where we stand up and stand out for our beliefs.  Therefore, regardless of how anyone else acts, Jesus calls us to take the high road without fear.  Yet, every single day we must remind ourselves not to live in fear.  Because fear robs us of joy more than most other things.

Above all, when we rise above our fears and gain confidence in the power of Christ’s reign in us, negative emotions fade.  Thus, the only effective strategy involves learning to rise above those negative emotions.  For Christ is slow to chide and swift to bless.  Bottom line: our joy increases every time we choose to take the high road without fear.  And brain experts say it’s impossible to love and fear at the same time.  God made us that way.

When we resist fear and instead take the high road, Pastor Frazee observes, we choose growth.  In turn, such growth leads to greater joy.  Psychologists coined a phrase for this response to trauma: post-traumatic growth.  Certainly, we find these experiences difficult to manage.  But they also spur profound positive growth.  Our God, slow to chide and swift to bless, enables us to face our problems head- on.

As a storm comes, buffalo run straight into the tempest.  As a result, buffalo minimize the amount of time they experience pain.  Cows, on the other hand, run away from the storm in an attempt to avoid it.  But since cows run in the same direction as the storm, they remain in the storm a lot longer than the buffalo.

In conclusion, Randy counsels:

“People who are ultimately successful are the ones who won’t allow their circumstances to chart their course.  They face challenges directly, knowing that challenges are an inevitable part of life in a broken world.  They even believe these challenges will make them stronger.  I like to say that these kinds of people have a B+ spiritual blood type.”

About the author

Dave Henning


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