“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” (James 1:2 – NAS)
A couple of years ago, my husband and I went to the post office to rent a mail box. There was a long line of customers, because only two postal workers were available. One of the workers was taking care of passport applicants. The other was waiting on the rest of us.
“You’ve got to be kidding!” the exasperated woman in front of me fumed. “Why don’t they have more than two people here to help us?” Obviously she wasn’t familiar with this particular location.
“There are always just one or two workers to assist customers here,” I said, adding to her disgust. “In fact,” I continued, “The only time you see a third worker come out is because he is replacing the one who needs to go on break.” I laughed, but she wasn’t at all amused.
Awhile later I noticed laughter coming from the line behind us. I turned around to see a handful of people genuinely enjoying themselves. As I listened further, I realized they were taking turns coming up with positive things to say about having to stand in line. It was contagious, and I soon found myself contributing as well. “We get to enjoy the air conditioning,” and “We’re making new friends,” I chimed in, with smiling faces nodding in agreement.
God used this incident to show me that it’s just as easy to find joy in a difficult situation as it is to grumble and complain about it. Unfortunately, I had initially chosen the latter. Since then, however, I have been thanking God for two or three positive things whenever I find myself in any negative circumstance. As a result, I have found myself complaining less.
How about you? Do traffic jams, incompetent customer service reps, or long lines at the grocery store get the best of you? How many positive things can you come up with when your patience is being tested?
Prayer: Lord, forgive us for complaining when faced with various trials. May we learn to habitually speak encouraging words to those who are troubled. Amen.