Irritations spring from many sources: the people around you, the environment you live in, and the many situations that arise in your personal life. The people and situations that aggravate you usually influence your attitudes and actions. As you learn to respond to these irritations in a positive way, you can begin to resolve the anger and worry that often accompany them. In the Bible, God promises that all things will work together for good in the lives of those who love Him. One of His purposes for your life is that you are conformed to the image of Christ, and these types of challenging situations are the very ones that mold our character, if we will allow God to work through them. (See Romans 8:28–29.) Even your irritations are present for a reason, and your response to them makes all the difference.
Identify Irresolvable Irritations
You can quickly or easily find solutions for many of your irritations. For example, a squeaky door can be oiled. A pesky personal habit can be changed. An angry neighbor can be appeased or befriended. Be willing to do what it takes to resolve these issues.
Resolving all irritations is beyond your power. For example, people have personality traits that annoy you, traffic issues are often unavoidable, or physical limitations can alter the way you live. However, your responses to these issues are significant. God can use inevitable irritations to increase your sensitivity to the needs of others, expand your opportunities, and develop your inward character.
If you react wrongly to irritations, you forfeit the benefits they can provide. You may even make matters worse! However, as you respond to them with insight and proper action, you welcome God’s work in your life, allowing Him to achieve His highest purpose for you—forming the life of His Son within you.
Respond to Irritations with Faith and Patience
When you are irritated, the temptation is to respond by defending yourself, blaming others, or getting angry. These responses do not resolve the irritation! Instead, they set you on a path toward more anger and frustration.
As you honestly address the situation before God, your irritations can become a classroom for developing maturity. Consider the following responses when you are irritated.
1. Thank God for the irritation.
If you have received God’s gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, you can be confident that God is using everything—even your irritations—to accomplish His purposes in your life. (See Romans 8:28–30.)
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:18). (See also Philippians 2:14–15.) When you face irritations, keep these truths in mind:
- I belong to God. (See Psalm 23:1 and John 10:27–28.)
- God wants the best for me. (See Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 6:23.)
- God is bigger than the source of irritation. (See Philippians 4:13, I Corinthians 10:13, and Hebrews 4:16.)
- God has allowed the irritation for my ultimate benefit. (See II Corinthians 12:9–10.)
- God’s work and reputation are affected by my response to this irritation. (See Matthew 5:16 and Romans 2:23–24.)
2. Identify possible causes.
Consider whether or not you have contributed at all to the cause of the irritating situation. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Did I play a part in causing this irritation by something I did or failed to do?
- Does this irritation reflect a personal fault or lack of character in my own life?
3. Determine ultimate objectives.
Ask God for insight into His purposes and plans, pondering the following:
- Lord, what character qualities do You want to develop in my life?
- Heavenly Father, how do You want to use this irritation to help me develop those qualities?
Reflect the Love and Light of Christ
The process of maturity that occurs as you respond rightly to irritations resembles the process of cutting and polishing a precious gem. Through careful planning and precise actions, smooth facets are created on the surface of the stone to increase the gem’s capacity to reflect light. As you learn to respond to irritations with faith and patience, your life will reflect the love and light of Jesus Christ with greater brilliance.