Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
— Ecclesiastes 7:9
God leads us into good times and bad times. Both can serve God’s purpose in helping us grow. This does not mean God causes our suffering, nor that something good will always come from every bad situation. But sometimes our bad times can be used by God for our greater good, if only we’ll pay attention.
If we get annoyed or angry too quickly, we’re not likely to consider that what seems like a bad time to us might just be a hard but important lesson for our personal growth.
What provokes you? Homework? Rules? Traffic jams? Having to wait in line? Having to work hard? Not getting a promotion? Not winning a game? It’s easy to get annoyed when things don’t go our way or we don’t get what we want. But how often do we see these kinds of things as learning opportunities?
Working on being less easily annoyed by a learning opportunity can give us a great start on this virtue. It can help to apply problem-solving skills as well, preparing us to move on to harder situations. And in cases where someone is actually at fault for a problem in our lives, this can help us handle the problem in a constructive way—even if it’s necessary to apply consequences.
Anger is a powerful tool. When it’s used too quickly, it tends to cause more harm than good. God is slow to anger, and we do well to follow his example.
God, thank you for not quickly getting angry with us. Help us to be slow to be provoked as well. Amen.