Ever made a mental list of things that irritate you? Here are a few I've got on mine: traffic jams, long lines, misplaced keys, stuck zippers, interruptions, late planes, squeaking doors, incompetence, and flat tires.
One of these days it should dawn on us that we'll never be completely free of irritations as long as we are on this planet. Never. Upon coming to this profound conclusion, we would then be wise to consider an alternative to losing our cool. The secret is adjusting.
Sounds simple...but it isn't. Several things tend to keep us on the edge of irritability. For one thing, we develop habit reactions, wrong though they may be. Also, we're usually in a hurry—impatient. Add to that the fact that our daily expectations are unrealistic; there's no way we can possibly get it all done anyway. All this increases the level of pressure within us. And when you increase the heat to our highly pressurized system by a fiery irritation or two (or three)...BOOM! Off goes the lid and out comes the steam.
When it comes to irritations, I've found that it helps if I remember that I am not in charge of my day...God is. And while I'm sure He wants me to use my time wisely, He is more concerned with the development of my character and the cultivation of the qualities that make me Christlike within. One of His preferred methods of training is through adjustments to irritations.
A perfect illustration? The oyster and its pearl. An irritation occurs when the shell of the oyster is invaded by an alien substance—like a grain of sand. When that happens, all the resources within the tiny, sensitive oyster rush to the irritated spot and begin to release healing fluids that otherwise would have remained dormant. By and by the irritant is covered—by a pearl. Had there been no irritating interruption, there could have been no pearl.
No wonder our heavenly home has pearly gates to welcome the wounded and bruised who have responded correctly to the sting of irritations.
J. B. Phillips must have realized this as he paraphrased James 1:2-4: "When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men [and women] of mature character."
How many pearls have you made this week?
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.