Not so long ago, I was yelled at by a fellow driver. It was justified; I'd made a turn that I should have waited a little longer to make, but it was a parking lot and I'd expected him to be driving slower. He shouted obscenities and demonstrated his discontentment as clearly as possible, to which I merely waved and shouted, “Sorry!”
I am not the first person to be berated by another driver, and I doubt I will be the last. As I contemplated the exchange, I couldn't help but think, “What kind of person is this man? Is this something out of the ordinary, or is he upset with life?” I more than likely spent too much time thinking about him, but still, I couldn't help but wonder about how we only saw each other for a few seconds, and I'll never know him by anything other than the man who called me names and was missing a front tooth.
Sometimes we're that man. We get caught up in the moment, and when life comes at us, we just want to lash out. It causes me to have an especial appreciation for the apostle Paul. Paul was a man who most certainly deserved to give a tirade or two; when he went by another name, maybe he made such indulgences. Paul was beaten, stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and ostracized from his community, yet he was content to suffer so that he could serve God.
Paul said, “I am an ambassador in chains; that in it [the gospel] I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:20). Paul was able to consider the situations he found himself in to be a way to serve God and reach the unsaved. Paul never ceased speaking of God's grace when he was in chains, or marooned on an island.
Cutting someone off in a parking lot is a far cry from imprisoning or stoning someone, but the intensity of the reaction is what brings Paul to mind. This was an exchange that had only lasted a few seconds, but may have stayed with the driver for hours—I know it did for me. I cannot help but wonder: what if I were able to impress the grace of God in those moments as sharply as he impressed his anger onto me?
Our response to difficulty isn't something easily controlled, especially when it feels a lot more satisfying to shout obscenities, but how can we give glory to God if we do not at least try?