Respond to Irritation with Faith
I went to Boston to visit a friend this weekend and managed to see my eldest at college for lunch as well. It was good to have some time away; even the four hours on the bus were soothing, because I was alone with my work and thoughts.
Reentry into New York was a completely different thing. Why is coming back into the fray after a break always so jarring? Everything got on my nerves: the people on the subway, the people in my family, the to-do list that had piled up in my absence. It was as if I was surrounded on every side by enemies poking at me, tempting me to explode. As I mentally talked myself down from one irritation after another, a Bible verse came to mind:
They surrounded me like bees;
but they will be extinguished like burning thorns.
In the name of the Lord I will defeat them. (Psalm 118:13)
It helped—really helped—to envision each individual irritation as a bee, and to mentally zap it saying, “In the name of the Lord I will defeat you!” Because bees are small, and God is big. And irritations come in swarms. And I could see this as an attack on my peace, and call on the Lord for help in responding to irritation in a faithful manner.
The evening finally came to an end, and I'm pretty sure no one in my family was any the wiser about my struggle with irritation. So I read Psalm 118 in its entirety. Fittingly, it closed out the day with this good thought:
You are my God, and I will praise you;
my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good
and his gracious love is eternal. (Psalm 118: 28-29)
In the midst of an attack of irritability, it's hard to be thankful. But when the swarm of stings has passed, gratitude comes easily. It flows as readily as in a psalm, sung to completion.
Most of God’s work happens quietly, changing hearts and minds and lives in ways we can’t see.
It’s good for the heart to put some effort into seeing the world from different angles.