There is a story about a man who was severely troubled about his Christian life. He visited his pastor and shared the problems about his temper: how he couldn’t wait for things to happen; how he moved forward with plans without waiting on the Lord; how he became frustrated with others when they hadn’t accomplished the set goals by the company; how he had no inner peace in his heart; how he was always pushing himself and others.

The Pastor asked the brother-in-the-Lord, “How may I pray for you?”

The man replied, “I need tolerance. Too often I’m in a hurry to get things done. Pray that the Lord will give me patience.”

The pastor placed an arm around the man. “Let’s pray right now.”

They both bowed their heads and the pastor prayed. “Lord, give this brother hardships and difficult times. Let trouble and problems fill his day. Make pressure and adversities his—”

The man jolted upright. “Wait a minute pastor. I didn’t ask for any of that.”

The Pastor smiled. “Yes you did.”

“No I didn’t. I want patience.”

The Preacher shook his head. “Normally the Lord doesn’t reach out, touch the believer, and give the attitude they request. Rather, God wants to teach the person, to train them how to develop the Christlike attitude.”

“But … but,” stammered the man. “What you prayed for will only aggravate my problem.”

The Pastor laid a hand on the man’s arm. “Only if you let it. Your life, and the things that come your way, are intended as homework. You and I are in God’s school. He’s training us to be faithful, to persevere, and to be holy. Those qualities are not granted as if the Lord were to wave a magic wand.”

“That’s so hard,” said the man. “I want God to just give me patience.”

“God usually doesn’t work that way. Everything in our lives, every event, every problem, and every complication: each is intended to make us more like Christ. The key to learning is how we respond. Do we fight the difficulties or do we accept them as something for God to use to modify our attitudes?”

The man frowned. “I don’t like that.”

“I didn’t make the rules. The Apostle Paul wrote: ‘Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances—’”

“Thankful for ALL circumstances? You gotta be kidding.”

“Not FOR all circumstances; IN all circumstances. Each situation is used to draw you into a closer walk with Christ. If your attitude is to grumble or complain, you failed the assignment. If you rejoice that the problem can be used to reshape your attitude, then you’ll receive a passing mark in God’s school.”

The man huffed. “You make this sound like I have to work at changing myself.”

“Something like that. We’re all sinners. God works in our lives to change us. The verse I just quoted ends with this: for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Like it or not, this is God’s intent for each of us. Reading our Bible isn’t just for head knowledge. Rather, it should bring about modifications within the heart; an internal change.”

“Hmmm,” the man grunted.

“Well, each of us must make choices. We either fight or follow. We choose what attitude to display every minute of every day. Matthew chapter five starts off with the Beatitudes. Each verse listed is an Attitude of heart: poor in spirit, meekness, merciful, hunger for righteousness, etc. We choose how to react. That’s our freewill, how we respond. The choice is yours … and mine.”

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