“Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” – Ecclesiastes 7:9
As I finished my grocery shopping, I scanned the checkout aisles and hurried to the shortest line. Neither person in front of me had many items, so I assumed the line would move quickly. After I’d stood in the same place for 10 minutes, I was irritated. I felt the heat rise to my face, and my head was pounding. If I could have jumped lanes easily, I would have done it in a second. However, I’d already placed my groceries on the conveyor belt, so I was stuck.
When another five minutes went by, I muttered under my breath, “What is going on?!” Then, as clear as day, I heard the Lord’s voice. “Remember what you prayed this morning? You asked me to help you be patient today. I’m doing that right now. Patience can only be developed through challenging situations, like this one.”
You’re right, Lord, I thought. Instead of changing my attitude, though, I remained uptight and upset. I wasn’t learning my lesson, so God turned it up a few notches.
After I finally checked out and went outside, I couldn’t find my car. I’d gotten so worked up in the store that my mind was totally blank. My daughters weren’t able to remember where I’d parked the car, either. Once we located it, I reached in my purse for the keys. They weren’t in there. Thinking I’d probably left them in the front seat, I lowered Jocelyn, my five-year-old through the open sun roof. When she tried to unlock the door, my car alarm went off. Everyone was staring at us, probably trying to decide if we looked honest. The alarm kept blaring.
We went back inside the store, and sure enough, I’d left my keys on the countertop. On the way home, I apologized to Isabelle and Jocelyn for losing my temper. I also confessed, “Lord, I blew it tonight. I didn’t handle that well at all.” I missed an opportunity to bear the fruit of patience and chose to do my own thing, which is always a mistake.
Do you sometimes struggle with anger, like I do? If so, then listen to what God says to you: “Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm (Psalm 37:8, NLT).” If you want to grow in patience, you must be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19).”
When you’re in the heat of a stressful moment, you can respond with patience, or you can be easily frustrated and provoked. Don’t be a fool. Your anger will not bring about the righteous life that God desires for you. Lean on the Lord’s strength to give you victory. He is faithful, and He will help you.