If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.Psalm 130:3-4
The shrill scream echoed throughout the grocery store and bounced off everything from laundry detergent to ice cream. Several people stopped and looked around in wide-eyed wonder, but every mom in the vicinity knew exactly what it was—and they didn’t miss a beat.
An unhappy toddler was throwing a tantrum. Pitching a fit. Showing himself.
Holding his mommy hostage. (Well, you get the idea.)
And I must tell you—this little guy was good. His face was the color of a bad sunburn, his tiny lower lip stuck out far enough to trip over, and his fists were clenched and ready for battle.
I sneaked a glance at the mom to see how she was doing. Hands on hips, she was giving her little one the look—knock it off, buster.
But as “good” as his tantrum was—I’ve seen better. I mean, this kid was an amateur.
Have you ever seen a grown-up pitch one?
I’ve witnessed men and women stomp their feet, throw things, and scream unmentionables in a crowded room. I’ve seen an adult kick a box across a room and pound a desk in anger—all because their agenda was being thwarted.
Adults who act like toddlers look ridiculous and they wreak havoc in their spheres of influence.
We can watch the evening news and see heartbreaking examples of the pain and destruction that results from people demanding their own way. Marriages and families break under the stress. Communities and countries suffer from the selfish demands of their leaders.
Recognizing this type of tantrum is easy—we can hear and see the effects. But there are thousands, no…tens of thousands of us walking around at any given time pitching an “invisible” fit to end all fits. We may look calm and serene on the outside—but inside? We’re a mess…
My life has not turned out the way I planned. Everything is hard and it’s just unfair.
Lord, You don’t know what she did/said to me. I will not show forgiveness to this person. I. Will. Not.
I hate this job/house/neighborhood/church/in-law/circumstance/person (pick one).
So, what’s the big deal? If we’re keeping our angst tucked inside, we’re not hurting anyone. Um, except ourselves—and every relationship the Lord has given us. In effect, we are holding growth and relationship hostage—and no one receives the pay-off (except Satan, the father of lies).
Our internal tantrums take on lives of their own. They become so deeply embedded in our hearts and minds, it takes supernatural power to dig them out. And not only do we miss genuine connection and interaction with others, but our first love suffers—our precious walk with Christ.
God’s Word offers a simple, yet powerful formula in our battle to tame the inner tantrum:
Forgive. Be content. Love.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:14-15).
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11-13).
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11).
Superhuman effort is required in the battle of dying to self. We simply cannot defeat our inner selfishness alone. Thankfully, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit who moves in us to act according to His will (Philippians 2:13).
I must confess. Over the years, I have thrown my share of tantrums. Childishness and immaturity have pushed their way to the forefront of my life. There may have been no visible signs, but it was there—wreaking havoc and stunting growth in my heart and thought-life.
Praise God, He offers forgiveness and restoration. Oh, the joy!
He pulls me close, smooths my red, tear-stained face and gently unclenches my fists.
Give it to Me, child…
Yes, Lord. Yes.
God’s Word offers a simple, yet powerful formula in our battle against the inner tantrum: Forgive. Be content. Love. #forgiveness #parenthood @lthomaswritesTweet
(Cover photo courtesy of Ryan Franco on Unsplash)