“be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1: 19-20.
Last week I was picking up a couple of things in Lidl and patiently queuing behind several people to get to the till. As I finally reached the till a man pushed his trolley aggressively towards me and yelled that I was queuing in the wrong aisle and needed to “get behind” him. Usually when faced with conflict I tend to go numb, remain silent or capitulate. But not this day. Sleep-deprived and reeling from other difficult encounters with people in my local area, my anger mounted. It wasn’t so much how I spoke to the man (though I did point out that there was a large queue in the aisle I was standing in and suggested he join us), but the sheer indignation and resentment I felt towards him and his trolley caught me off guard. I marched out of Lidl and called my husband on the way home to air my grievances. Oh dear.
On the one hand I could say I feel justified; I have had several unpleasant experiences with people in Northolt, and I encounter seasons of bad sleep that seem to produce less than reasonable behaviour (Google sleep deprivation and emotional reactivity research!). But the truth is I felt disappointed in myself. Remaining calm has seen me through many Northolt situations but one angry man in Lidl broke my winning streak! Would it have been different if I had meditated on James 1 that morning? I suspect it might have. God’s word is life-giving and changes everything: how I see the world and how I respond to angry, hurting people. If God tells us to be slow to anger then there is a good reason for it and his instruction always breeds peace, hope and joy. I know for a fact that when I arm myself with God’s truth I extend grace to others far more easily.
You may not have a supermarket case but do you have any recent examples where you have reacted in anger? Let’s ask God to help us soften our hearts towards each other.
Prayer: Father, we are sorry for the times we have reacted in anger this week. We pray you would fill our hearts with grace and compassion towards those whom we find difficult. Amen
Prayer Request: For situations of conflict we are aware of, that grace and forgiveness may bring change.