It’s a strange thing that happens when I give thanks, I see things very differently. Giants and big mountains become opportunities for a miracle, and irritations become like the grit in an oyster’s shell , they become the opportunity to create a pearl.
I first learnt that lesson many years ago, but it is of course one that has to be relearnt many times over. It seems to me that it’s a recurring theme throughout life that the Holy Spirit will use those things, (and people), that irritate and annoy, to produce something Christ like and beautiful in our lives.
Impatience has always been my big one, waiting around for something to happen has always felt like a waste of time to me, unproductive time that could be far better used. Giving thanks, rather than getting fretful and frustrated has made a great difference. Turning to the Lord with a thankful heart releases creativity and I very often find that the Holy Spirit will remind me of something I can do in the time of waiting.
That can be taking a moment to ‘be still’ and reflect, or remembering something I was supposed to be doing, which is always helpful. It can also be something like praying for someone or something, phoning or texting someone, taking the moment to clear something, prepare something, do something I have been putting off. The lesson is simple, as David confessed ‘my times are in His hands’, Psalm 31:14, and being thankful , even for the wait or the delay that threatens to frustrate, releases a more peaceful mindset that enables the Holy Spirit to lead and guide.
Taking that lesson into the realm of our human relationships, I have discovered that when I am irritated by someone, or something that someone is doing, giving thanks for that person and the situation changes everything. It first of all changes my perspective as I start to realise that the Lord is drawing my attention to the fact that this person needs me to pray for them. It is quite often the case that He will then prompt me to ask a question or make a comment that causes them to share something important that is going on for them.
Secondly I begin to see this person or what they are doing as a blessing. As I give thanks for them I begin to see the challenge they present to my peace as the ‘grit’ in the oyster of my heart that is going to cause me, as I let the Holy Spirit lead and help me, to produce a pearl. I begin to see what the Lord is wanting to change in me. My attitude can then change from ‘this is a nuisance’, to ‘OK Lord what is it in me that you are seeking to refine and make more like Jesus’.
A change can then come in my behavior towards that person or that situation, as the Holy Spirit gives the grace and wisdom to see what He sees and what He would want me to do and say. This will be very different to just ‘putting up with something’, gritted teeth style, and it probably won’t be just having a sweet smile covering up deeper more unpleasant emotions.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit will be smiling and enjoying the opportunity to change me first of all, and then using me to be a catalyst for change in someone else’s life or circumstances. Basically I am saying that the Lord ‘never misses a trick’. He never misses an opportunity to bless us, do us good and to work in our lives to change us, as well as working through us, and with us, to help others to become more like Him too.
It sounds a bit strange, but being thankful for irritations can open up a whole new level of walking with Him, where even ‘the bits of grit’ in our lives become fun as we say “and what are you seeking to change in me today Lord?” and “No I didn’t see that one coming, but thank you”