We all have days when every little thing that can go wrong does go wrong. Often our biggest problems are those little problems that keeping adding up to frustrations, irritations–and, then, a very bad attitude.
Paul says dealing with these frustrations is actually an acid test for your Christianity; it is what separates believers and unbelievers in the eyes of others. Philippians 2:14 says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” (NIV)
If Jesus isn’t Lord of the little things in your life, then, he’s not really Lord. Your faith isn’t as much determined by what you preach about or how you perform in whatever ministry role you’re in, but it is how you act at the breakfast table on Monday morning.
So how do you cope with these little things in a way that honors Christ? Here are four questions to ask yourself:
Did I cause it? The Bible says in Galatians, “A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7, NIV) Often we bring on our own frustrations. There is no one else to blame but ourselves. We’re simply reaping what we’ve sown. Start with being honest with yourself. For example, you ran out of gas because you didn’t plan ahead. People are grumpy toward you because you’ve been grumpy with them.
What can I learn from it? “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV) Use the irritation to grow in character. An irritation gives you an opportunity to be more like Christ. How would he respond to the irritation you’ve been dealing with? You grow in the fruits of the Spirit by being exposed to the opposite situations. If God wants to teach you peace, he’ll put you in chaos. If God wants you to learn love, he’ll put you around an unlovely person. You can learn and grow in any situation – if you’re willing to let God change your attitude.
What can I thank God for in the situation? “In everything give thanks.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NASB) The Bible doesn’t say give thanks for everything. The Bible says to give thanks in everything. You don’t have to be thankful for a bad situation – but you can be thankful in it. You can thank God when you realize that he’ll take that negative situation and turn it around for good.
How can I find humor in the situation? “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22, NIV) Laughter is the shock absorber of life. It’s God’s antidote for anger and frustration. It’ll lighten your load and make your frustrations more palatable. You can’t laugh at a frustration and blow up at the same time. The Bible says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV) Do you want strength to handle the frustrations your dealing? God’s joy will provide it.
Finally, after you’ve asked yourself these four questions, ask God to fill you with His love. The Bible teaches us that love is never irritable. It’s also always self-giving, not self-serving. We get frustrated and upset because we think everything revolves around us. Love concentrates on the other person. When God fills you with His love, you’ll put others first–and frustrations will drop in importance.