Dealing with Irritations

Two months ago, I wrote a devotional about the trials we all must at times face, couched in phrases like “fiery ordeals” and “crucifixions of the heart.” I was primarily referring to those experiences that can be gut-wrenching and often involve some type of loss. But what about daily life as we usually know it?

Much of the time we go about our business, taking care of our responsibilities, enjoying blessings (a good laugh, a favorite song, a good meal), and enduring the irritations and provocations. I doubt I need to give examples– some days they may seem too numerous to count! You’ve managed to avoid two potential accidents on the way to work due to careless drivers, you’ve got three “emergency” situations to deal with when you arrive because people didn’t plan ahead, and through the day you have to interact with co-workers, family members or those you’re trying to serve who seem demanding and ungrateful. Now, of course I’m exaggerating– and leaving out the element of what we ourselves may do to make matters
worse– in order to illustrate the point that we all face irritations brought about by sharing our lives with other people. There are Biblical references to such (so apparently human nature hasn’t changed much over thousands of years):

“…Those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in you sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live.” Numbers 33:55

“No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbors who are painful briers and sharp thorns. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.”  Ezekiel 28:24

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.”  2 Corinthians 12:7-8 (Scholars believe Paul was referring to enemies’ attacks on his ministry)

So how do we cope? Sometimes with fair, assertive dialog with others; always by emulating Jesus in patience, humility, self-denial and self-control. By shouldering our “crosses” while continually bringing our feelings to God, drawing strength from His love and grace and power.

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20

Lastly, allow me to share a wonderful quote from Alexander Whyte:

“There are things in all our lives that chafe and fret and crucify our hearts continually. Those you love best may even be the cause of constant and acute pain. Though no mortal may ever guess you are fast sinking under the weight of such crosses as these, it is no guess with your Savior. He knows all about it. Every morning, take up your cross and carry it all day in His strength and under His all-seeing, all-sympathizing eye.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing us to experience irritations that we may grow in our patience, self-control and close reliance on You. Thank you for your incredible provision of grace and love, every day. Amen.

Carolyn Rex