I wanted to share with you a devotional that I wrote a few months ago for Moms on a Mission’s magazine. If you are feeling impatient or angry, I hope you find it encouraging!
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with PATIENCE, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)
This Lent season I was called to give up something that I thought would be relatively easy. That something turned out to be more precious and dear to me than I had ever realized. Anger. Boy, do I wish I had given up sweets again like last year. Even with my sweet tooth, that insatiable desire to consume chocolate was nothing compared to anger. I thought if I could just isolate those angry moments and focus on them I could have a right response.
What does anger have to do with patience? The New Testament, originally written in Greek, has two words that it translates “patience”. Hypomone is long suffering or perserverance within our circumstances. I was patient to wait on the Lord and pray and not give in to despair when faced with a difficult and complicated set of circumstances within my extended family this year. I was rewarded by seeing the Lord work in the most direct and amazing way, like a beautiful drama played right before my eyes.
The other Greek word for patience is makrothumia which is patience with others. Makrothumia is the response I desire instead of my current default of anger. To look at my life you would never peg me as an angry person. But I am easily and frequently irritated. Years ago I read, in The Excellent Wife, that irritation is just a form of anger. I didn’t know where the author got that idea and I sure didn’t like it. Then one day I was reviewing Latin vocabulary with my daughter, to help her study for a test. “Iratus,” I read from the front of her index card. “Anger,” she answered. I flipped the card over. Yep. The Latin root of the word anger is pretty much irritated. An irritated response is the polar opposite of patience.
My sin has been laid bare before my eyes during my failing “fast” of anger. Ephesians 4 tells me that I have been called to imitate Christ in humility and gentleness and respond to irritants with love, excited to bring peace to potentially explosive situations. But my anger stems from thinking I have a right to a clean house, polite interactions in the store, obedient kids, and perfectly functioning electronics. In reality I gave up all my rights when I chose to identify with Christ. After a long day of being irritated by what amounts to everyday life, I am laying it all down, once again, at the feet of Jesus. I am taking up my cross and following His example. Thank you, Jesus that your mercies are new every morning!
If you are local to South Florida, Moms On a Mission is a great resource and support network that meets each month: https://riovistachurch.com/ministries/moms/
If you would like to read more about dealing with anger in children, I wrote about it here.