Today’s message is about how we can deal with the frustration we often feel in life.
Our prayer — ‘Dear Heavenly Father, I know that you are in charge of the Universe. I know that you have a grand plan for us. I believe that you sent your Son, my Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ to live and walk among us and to die for us. I believe that you raised Him from the grave and that He sits at your right hand. Father, I ask that you send the Holy Spirit into my life whenever I begin to feel frustrated with my life or the world around me. Thank you – Amen.’
Our scripture today is from psalm 131
1 My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.
It seems to me we get frustrated so very easily in our lives today. In my opinion, we have become a society that is selfish and entitled and when we do not get what we want we throw temper tantrums. We stamp our feet, curse, and generally act like infants when things do not go our way.
I do not know if it is because life has gotten more complicated or we, as a society, have just become less patient. I look around and see that when things do not go our way we are not nearly as tolerant or patient as we seemed to be in the past.
Today I want to look at frustration and examine the idea of how each of us can handle frustration in this modern day and age. Before I begin, here is my prayer — ‘Dear Heavenly Father, I know that you are in charge of the Universe. I know that you have a grand plan for us. I believe that you sent your Son, my Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ to live and walk among us and to die for us. I believe that you raised Him from the grave and that He sits at your right hand. Father, I ask that you send the Holy Spirit into my life whenever I begin to feel frustrated with my life or the world around me. Thank you – Amen.’
Going to look at several ideas:
- Why do we get frustrated?
- How are we to respond to frustration?
- Does God ever cause frustration?
- Do we have a promise from God that we can count on for dealing with frustration?
So why do we get frustrated?
Mostly it is because we have worked hard for something but it seems like no matter what we do it just does not happen. In the Old Testament book of Micah in chapter 6 verse 15, we read, “You will sow but you will not reap”. Many of have felt the pain of that. The old adages of that if we keep our shoulder to the wheel and our noses to the grindstone, our hard work always pays off, we find out just are not true.
So when we keep trying and trying and not getting the results we want, inside we will begin to think, why bother. If we have normal human emotions, it is very important to our sense of self-worth that things work out the way we want. When we are not able to accomplish what it was we thought we would accomplish and the feelings of frustration builds up inside of us.
This also applies to our interactions with others. I have noticed over the years that there are times when others just do not do or act as I think they should. That can be very frustrating and when that does occur that ‘Grrrr” feeling of aggravation builds up on the inside. Once our frustration turns to aggravation, it can often turn to anger and then we lash out. When we lash out, we are in fact sinning because we are not treating others, as we want to be treated. We have a difficult time seeing the truth or as the old saying goes, we cannot see the forest for the trees, because we are suffering from the ‘it is all about me’ syndrome.
It is also frustrating when we believe that our prayers are going unanswered. Maybe we have asked Him to do something or to give us something that only fulfills our selfish needs and wants, and we did not receive it. One reason maybe that God protects us from what will hurt us or is not in our (or His) best interest, and as the song says, ‘Sometimes God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers’.
As a result, we can figure out why He answered us the way He did if we understand the words in James chapter 4 verse 3, “You ask and do not receive because you ask for the wrong motives, so you may spend it on your pleasures. In other words, our motives for what we are doing or what we are asking for were not exactly right in the eyes of the Lord.
We do not realize the truth because we feel that when we pray, we should automatically receive what we ask for. As I said, when we do not get exactly what we want when we want it, then we are sure that God is either ignoring our prayers or constantly telling us no.
It is important that we understand that God alone knows what is truly in our hearts and what is best for us. When we go to Him in prayer we need to ask Him to reveal to us what it is we should be doing, how we should be doing it, or what it is He wants us to pursue.
When we are asking God for things, we should first examine the reason for asking. Do we truly need it or is it something we just want? There is a huge difference between needing and wanting. Just because we want, it right now does not mean we need it right now.
It also does not mean it is what God wants us to have at that time. This is an important concept to bear in mind. Do we need it to help our family or a loved one? Do we need it to help our children? Or do we need it because others will think we are cool? Personally, I believe that the requests we make that benefit others are the ones God that might make a priority.
When we are in pain or when we are suffering these are also times when frustration can build. It can seem as if no matter what we do, or what the doctor prescribes things still hurt. Our society today is now taking to condoning suicide as a solution to these feelings; personally, I believe that lifting our voices up to God is a better choice. Pain and suffering are realities that go back to the beginning of mankind. In the book of Job 10:13-22 we find Job (who has suffered numerous trials and tribulations) talking directly to God:
“Yet these things You have concealed in Your heart; I know that this is within You: If I sin, then you would take note of me, And would not acquit me of my guilt. If I am wicked, woe to me! And if I am righteous, I dare not lift up my head. I am sated with disgrace and conscious of my misery. Should my head be lifted up, You would hunt me like a lion; And again You would show Your power against me. You renew Your witnesses against me and increase Your anger toward me; Hardship after hardship is with me.”
“Why then have You brought me out of the womb? Would that I had died and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not been, carried from womb to tomb. Would He not let my few days alone? Withdraw from me that I may have a little cheer Before I go—and I shall not return—To the land of darkness and deep shadow, The land of utter gloom as darkness itself, Of deep shadow without order, And which shines as the darkness.”
In that scripture, it is obvious that Job is in deep despair and his frustration is mounting. His family has died, he has lost everything, he has become sick, and in other words, his world has completely fallen apart. He is so frustrated that he wishes he had never been born. Instead of killing himself or of turning his back to God, he continued to believe and to trust in God.
So how are we to respond to frustration?
The solution sounds easier than it really is. First, we need to study the source of our frustration. Once we understand why we are frustrated we will be able to figure out how to deal with it.
If we are frustrated because we are in physical pain that will not go away seek out professional medical advice. Do not try to self-diagnose off a website on the internet. Visit a doctor and then follow their instructions. If the doctor we are using is not listening to us, we need to find another doctor and get a second opinion.
If we are frustrated because work is going poorly, money is tight, our relationships are falling apart, or any one of numerous other worldly reasons; talk it over with God. Remember, there is a big difference between being frustrated in our quest to do good and being frustrated because we are not getting our way. Each one of life’s situations has a different solution. The solutions are in our hearts and our reasons for doing what we are doing. In the book of Proverbs chapter 21 verse 2, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.” Each of us often think and believe that we are right; however, God knows the truth of the situation. Why we really want what we want. He knows us better than we know ourselves.
If we want to avoid or minimize our feelings of frustration, then we need to make certain that we are on an even keel and we are right with God. When we do lose our perspective and the feelings of frustration begin to build, we need to make sure that we do not just lash out at the people around us.
In other words, we must be careful of what we say when we are frustrated. In James chapter 3 verses 2-5. “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!”
In those verses, James is pointing out how the smallest item can often be one of the most important items. When he speaks of the rudder of the ship and how when the pilot moves it, the entire ship moves at its command, the imagery should be impressive. He then talks about the power of the tongue, and when we think about it, it is easy to see how very small it is and yet it can be very powerful.
James continues in verses 6 through 12; “And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.”
When we allow our frustrations to get the best of us, when we allow them to fester and linger then we have a tendency to lash out. The words we use can be a very powerful sword for good or for evil. When we are angry and frustrated, the odds are we will use those words for evil or negativity. Too many of us spend an hour or two on a Sunday in church saying how much we love God and then turn right around and curse out someone who we think might have done wrong.
James is adamant when he talks about enough is enough; we need to be sure that we are not hypocrites. We cannot claim to be true followers of Christ and then lash out at people every time we are frustrated. We need to take a moment, count to ten, and if we are still angry, count to ten again. We can learn to control ourselves if we are willing to turn things over to God.
While I personally do not believe that God causes my frustrations, I do believe that there times when God does cause frustration. I believe there are those times when He will frustrate the plans of evil people. Job 5:12 “He frustrates the plotting of the shrewd, So that their hands cannot attain success.” I think about this whenever I hear about some evil person having a good life and I wonder why. Then I look at the long-term picture and understand that in that long run, evil very rarely wins. It may take a while but eventually righteousness does overcome. Think about how many times we have read about truly evil leaders, and they usually come to an abrupt end.
Think about ISIS and how evil they are, how vicious they are, and how 2 years ago everyone cowered from them. Slaughtering Christians, other Moslems who were not of the same sect, they are truly a violent and evil group. Now it appears that they are on the verge of being removed from the earth. I could not understand why God allowed such evil to flourish, but I came to believe that maybe He wanted us to face it and recognize it for what it is. Once that happened the world turned on them and began to recapture and save those who are enslaved by the barbarians.
We have to remember we have a promise from God. In Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” As long as we remember that God is always with us, as long as we remember that God will not forget us, as long as we trust in Him and walk with Him, we will overcome our frustrations and we will thrive.
Whenever we start a day, if we start if with this prayer — ‘Dear Heavenly Father, I know that you are in charge of the Universe. I know that you have a grand plan for us. I believe that you sent your Son, my Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ to live and walk among us and to die for us. I believe that you raised Him from the grave and that He sits at your right hand. Father, I ask that you send the Holy Spirit into my life whenever I begin to feel frustrated with my life or the world around me. Thank you – Amen.’
I believe we will all have a better day and a happier, less frustrating life.