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Frustrations – Two Roads

It all begins so innocently. Or does it? Maybe it’s more like ingenious sabotage strategy.

"It was such an insignificant little disagreement! Sure I’m frustrated! Doesn’t everyone get frustrated? Like at least a hundred times every day!"

So I march up to the house where frustration lives—it looks harmless enough—but when I open the door and walk into the front room, I’m shocked to see the repulsive tenants lurking in that harmless looking house: there’s anger and bitterness, depression, fear, cynicism, hatred, stealing, isolation, loneliness, murder, rape—so many frightening apparitions that I’m struck dumb with the potential of my being there. And if I don’t bolt out the door and deal with that "insignificant little disagreement," there is the distinct possibility of #72 in the daily 100 becoming one of those monsters that could alter the course of my life.

Have you ever been frustrated? Of course you have. Frustration is something we all experience. The critical question is, "How have you dealt with it?" Frustration is the starting block not only for depression, but for many of the other debilitating emotional dilemmas in our lives as well. It sneaks up on us. We say, "Oh, it was such a small intrusion"; or, "It wasn’t really that important." But that small intrusion—unrecognized and untended—can grow, much like a silent malignancy, into a full-blown crisis experience. You can remember an unaddressed frustration in your life that multiplied out of all proportion, evolving eventually into disaster.

Frustration infiltrates at the slightest provocation. When a cherished hope is shattered or your well-laid plans dissolve before your eyes. It’s so frustrating! It can be something as simple as a family birthday celebration where one person causes your exciting party to disintegrate. Or you just know this open door means your dream will finally come true—and the door slams—right in your face. It’s so frustrating! You’ve always longed to travel and have scrimped sacrificially for years, but the dream is shattered when your mom gets sick and needs your financial assistance. No one in your family appreciates your creativity—or your masculinity—or your intelligence—or your beauty. Your wife is slovenly and self-centered and you live in constant frustration because of her disorganization. Your husband resists changing to meet your needs and doggedly goes his own indulged way.

It’s so frustrating!

Biblical Examples of Frustration

Moses stood on the rim of Mount Pisgah knowing that he would never live in the land before him—that land flowing with milk and honey. All through the weary, long years he had but one dream—to reach the Promised Land—and in an unguarded moment of frustration with his murmuring tour group, he struck the rock. (Deut. 3:26-27) Oh, God! Let me go over! Let me tread the land beyond the Jordan! God, this is too strict! Frustration! Jeremiah had dreams of a restored Israel, but he encountered baffling indifference, the stubbornness of the people, the hostility of men. The opposition he encountered was cruel and crushing. Lord! You deceived me! (Lam. 3:1-18) Frustration! Paul planned to launch a massive evangelistic campaign in Bithynia—only to have his plans drastically changed and his route taking him instead to Macedonia (Acts 16:7-10). Could he have been frustrated? David had one dream, one vision that urged him on through the years of war and rebellion—to build a house for God. And as the years of war finally ceased and the country was at peace, he passionately began his plans—only to have God intervene. "No, David. You will not build the temple. Other hands will build it, when you are dead and gone" (I Chron. 17: 4, 11-12). And the lead weight of frustration comes down heavy on his soul.

But it is from David, the "man after God’s own heart," that we learn how to deal with impaired visions, that we learn how to deal with frustration.

1. The first thing he did was to accept the disappointment. He accepted, yes. But if we could see between the lines, do you suppose we might find David standing on the balcony, shoulders slumped, looking out over the city? His eyes straying inevitably to the temple site—but he couldn’t seem to see it clearly—his eyes just wouldn’t focus. And if you looked carefully, you might see a tear slipping down his bronzed cheek. It hurts when grandiose dreams are shattered.

2. But he sought for some way to still be a part of his dream. David made a decision. He would spend the rest of his life facilitating the task of that builder who would come after him. Oh, Solomon could not have accomplished what he did without David!

3. And he persevered. He didn’t give up. There was a new vision. God bragged on David. "You won’t get to build My house for Me, David, but because you held fast to your dream, I am as pleased as if you had been the master builder. You did well." (II Chron. 6:8)

Our Answer For Frustrations

So how do we deal with the frustrations that will come into our lives?

1. We accept them. That doesn’t mean they’re fair or right or that we deserve them. We just accept them. If we vent our frustration, verbalizing it with the right decibels and exclamation marks, our emotions will hit the top of the scale before we know what’s happening, and then we’re done for! We don’t deny frustrations, but we don’t panic and abandon ship because of them.

Acceptance of the disappointment and submission to His indwelling presence brings relief and the possibility of reconciliation—all utterly impossible when we cling tenaciously to the frustration.

2. We ask God to show us how to be a part of a new plan, building a new relationship or restoring a damaged one, or maybe tearing down an imposing barrier. We look at those who are coming behind us—our children—and square our shoulders, knowing that the role we play in what they may accomplish is so very important. And we can do this! How? Because it is not our strength that pulls on the bootstraps. It is His strength!

3. We cling to what we know and relentlessly pursue our goal. Oh, our vision may not be fulfilled, our plans may be altered, but the goal is still there. You see, your goal and my goal are the same—and that goal will be fulfilled. ( Phil. 1:6) We are being changed into His likeness! (Romans 8:28-29) And God will say to us, "You persevered. You didn’t give up. You did well."

You don’t have to be controlled by those who frustrate you. You don’t have to sit in that room with anger and depression and bitterness and all of the other dreadful results of frustration. Your retreat may not be graceful and your pride may suffer as you bolt for the way of escape, but you did the right thing. And don’t let people rob you of your vision—that would be disastrous! Visions and dreams and plans hold us to our goal. Paul cried, "I have not attained. It has been one frustration after another. My vision for sharing the gospel—for planting more churches, for the work in Rome, for evangelizing Spain—these have not been fulfilled. But I press on toward the mark" (Phil. 3:14)—toward the goal. His face was toward Christ. With new visions.

God doesn’t judge a person’s relationship to Him by the point he has reached on the highway of holiness, but by the way he’s facing. God does not judge a person by the distance he has come, but by the direction he’s going. He doesn’t judge by the question, what has he achieved? But by the question, does he have his face toward Christ? (from The Wind of the Spirit by James S. Stewart)

Can we press on toward the mark? Yes. You and I have the glorious promise of being transformed into the image of Christ. And that promise will carry us through many wars and over many weary miles. Christ living within us is not deterred by frustrations. He is not defeated because of frustrations. He is challenged. I must remember … Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You! (Jer. 32:17)

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.