by Jim Rower
“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” –Neh. 8:10
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” –John 10:10a
The other day I made a quick trip to the grocery store for a half-gallon of milk. I was happily surprised to find it was on sale—$1.99. I zipped up to the express checkout line to complete my purchase. The milk rang up at $2.69. What?!? At first, I was going to let it go and just leave with my purchase. But, hey, that was a 35% increase above the sale price shown on the shelf. So, I told the cashier it was the wrong price; it was on sale. She, of course, had to lock her register and check it herself. She returned to tell me only the 1% milk was on sale, but I had the 2%. I knew that wasn’t the case and told her so (I’m somewhat OCD, so I check things like that). She locked her register and went back to check again. When she returned, she told me the price was indeed $1.99 and that she would refund me the ‘7 cents’ difference. “The difference is 70 cents; not 7,” I responded. After she did some additional math on her calculator, she then refunded me the full 70 cents’ difference.
What was particularly annoying to me about this encounter is that the cashier never once offered an apology for the store’s error. Instead, her attitude seemed to be more that I was at fault for pointing out the error, thus causing her more work, and creating a back-up in the express lane.
On my drive home, I was becoming irritated over this—no apology; no “thank you”; no action taken to correct the error in the computer. I let myself get angrier and my mood grow gloomier for about 10 minutes. Then, something a wise person once told me popped into my head: “You can’t control other people’s words or actions, you can only control your response to them. Don’t let others steal your joy.”
There I was, letting someone else ‘steal my joy’ over something that was very trivial. I had to chuckle at my own foolishness. I took a few deep breaths and said a quick prayer, asking God to help me put it out of my mind and redeem my attitude.
Joy comes from the Lord. It is our strength. But Satan is waiting for any opportunity to have us focus on other things, stealing that joy and weakening us so we are more susceptible to other sins.
Thank you, Lord God, for the everlasting joy You’ve given me. Help me to keep You in the forefront of my mind and not let the circumstances of this world take my focus off of You and the gracious gifts You’ve given me. Amen.