You know, if you’re like me, you probably have times where a lot of things just get on your nerves. Have you ever had one of those days where, if someone so much as brushes against you, you feel like screaming? I know that sounds awful, but I’ve had those days. I don’t know what it is, but once in a while it just feels like there is something bottled up inside of me that is just waiting for a chance to explode.
Even if you haven’t had quite that experience, I’m sure you have had to deal with annoyances. Maybe you think of your annoyances as your “thorns in the flesh” that always seem to be poking you, prodding you, boring a hole in your patience.
But are they really thorns?
I have three younger siblings, and they are no more perfect than I am. We all do things sometimes that get on each other’s nerves…whether intentionally or accidentally. And many times, I have reacted with frustration or anger.
But is it worth getting angry about? Is it worth losing my temper over? Is it worth sinning over? Have you ever noticed that paradox – we get so angry at other people for doing what is wrong that we end up doing what is wrong ourselves! I’ve gone even farther sometimes, getting angry at myself for getting angry over something else someone else did – doing wrong because I did wrong because someone else did wrong. Oh, brother.
Returning to those trying situations – try to look at them from an eternal perspective, from God’s perspective. If these experiences are meant to mold us into the person God wants us to become – are we passing the test?
And think of all the thousands of Christians around the world, past and present, who have or are enduring persecution for the sake of Christ. Doing what is right, in the face of death. Living in longsuffering, in the face of torture.
Think of Jesus. He lived a perfect life. He came here to save us. And the very people He came to save flogged Him, humiliated Him, pressed thorns into His forehead, and nailed Him to a cross to die.
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;” (1 Pet. 2:21-23 NKJV).
And we can’t be longsuffering toward a sibling who wants to toss out a few teasing comments?
The little annoyances that we tend to deal with on a regular basis – those aren’t thorns. Those are little stickers. Little prickles.
And if we can’t deal with the prickles, how do we expect to deal with the thorns?
If we can’t be patient with someone whom we love, how can we be patient with someone we may be tempted to hate?
“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same…But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.” (Luke 6:32-33, 35).
In this verse, it is expected that you will love those who love you. If you want to be able to love your enemies – it would probably be a good idea to start learning how to show love toward your own family and friends. Because if you can’t be kind and patient in the little things – the little trials – how do you expect to be kind and patient in the big things – the big trials?
So next time you are tempted to lose your patience over a prickle, think of the thorns that others have had to deal with. Thorns that others have conquered. Can you conquer the prickle?
So do it.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13).
P.S. I’m preaching to myself here, too, just so you know. 🙂
P.S.S. For the sake of my mom, this post was partly inspired due to a conversation she had with us kids earlier this morning, although the thoughts presented are ones that I have had many times.