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.
I really enjoyed this! Thank you for that reminder! There is always a purpose for situations regardless of whether we see them in the moment. God has a plan and a purpose! I think it’s important to have open ears and an open heart to see what God is wanting to tell you during the difficult times. We have to humbly position ourselves to hear from the Lord during these times. It reminded me of an article entitled “6 Tips on How to Hear from God” from James River Church.
Thanks for this post! The website to the article I talked about is https://jamesriver.org/blog/hearing-god-speak
Very timely! Received some news I wasn’t thrilled with and had a number of big and little things happen today. Trying to remind myself God is in the details and there is a purpose and lesson in everything. Just needd the slap on the back of the head to remind me. Thanks for being that slap :)
Thanks Rick! I really needed this today. Looking around and seeing homes fall apart and people making poor choices is sometimes overwhelming. In the last few days alone I’ve learned of four marriages coming apart plus another one that is in process and she wants nothing to do with reconcilliation, yet claims to be following Christ and working CR. It gets pretty disheartening sometimes and hard to remember that I didn’t break it and so I can’t fix it. Right now it feels like to trying to put out a raging brush fire with wet dish towel. I can “do everything without grumbling or complaining” but can’t help but have a broken heart over broken lives. I just don’t know what to do to help them.
I have appreciated you, Pastor Rick, for many years and I thank you for all the ways you have encouraged me and the Church to follow Christ and impact lost people. Because of how highly I regard you, I am so hesitant to share this one thought, but I have heard people make the same statement that you made in this post that the Bible doesn’t tell us to give thanks for everything…but it actually does (Ephesians 5:20). Your point is correct, but just not complete. I think Eph. 5:20 means that we give thanks for everything not because everything is wonderful, but as an act of faith and trust that God is in control and can use even evil and pain for His purposes and glory. So we thank Him for everything believing that He can use everything (the good, the bad, and the ugly) for our good and for His glory. At least this is how I understand it. Thanks again for your wonderful ministry that has been such a blessing to me and to so many others around the world. God bless you.