I started writing a comment over at Susanne's post "A Matter of Perspective", but it was getting pretty long, so I thought it was more appropriate as a post of its own. Read her post first for the context of my thoughts.
Isn't it ironic how we often feel that as Christians we are "entitled" to material comforts, but we don't want to embrace the suffering and testing that the scriptures directly tell us to expect?
We are told "Do not be surprised if the world hates you." (1 Jn. 3:13, see also 1 Peter 4:12-19), yet we are surprised, and easily offended, and we get all bent out of shape when we are mistreated. We react strongly even when someone just cuts in front of us on the highway, or shortchanges us at the store, or overcharges us for services rendered.
These minor, random offenses are not even close to the kind of persecution for which the Bible tells us to be prepared. Regardless of whether we personally experience that kind of direct assault against us because of our faith, we are called to live lives of meekness, humility, and love even when faced with hatred. We should live our lives in such a way that we can look in the face of our accuser (even our exocutioner) and say in true love "Father, forgive them." If such an accuser never comes against us, Praise be to God. But if he does come, how can we be prepared to respond in the love of Christ?
Do I respond in bitterness and indignation at today's minor annoyance, but expect to be filled with humility, meekness, and longsuffering when it "Really Matters"? If so, I am deceived. I cooperate with the Holy Spirit's work in me by responding in obedience. If I have strengthened through practice the propensity of my flesh to respond in anger, then anger and resentment will fester and grow within me. The next time I am provoked, that is what will come out.
But if I seek to go low and let the Lord work humility within me now (by practicing walking in humility, meekness, forgiveness, thankfulness), then when greater offenses come, I will have the way of Christ established in my heart in preparation for that day.
Responding in meekness, with a thankful heart in the midst of all circumstances, is not only important to my present state of mind, but also for establishing a habit of obedience that will affect my future responses as well.