But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Almost everybody I know these days seems to be cramming more and more into an already full schedule. Notice the grim looks on people as they scrutinize their To-do list, or poke at the calendars on their iPhones trying to find another fifteen- minute slot to take on just one more thing. Like a juggler who takes crystal balls and keeps adding more, until he reaches the point of impossibility and one of them crashes to the floor. That’s how you feel.
One more meeting; one more trip to take your kids to activities; another appointment; yes, don’t forget dinner with the family on Friday. How much can you take? Then you miss an appointment because you forgot or were delayed in traffic because you left too late. Your blood pressure soars, your nerves are on edge, and your frustration leaps off the chart. You also are annoyed with yourself, thinking, “If I were spiritual I should be able to handle this load.” Spirituality isn’t the issue; overload is! I’m convinced today that overload is the source of most of our frustrations today, but not necessarily all of them.
Frustration, simply put, is how you feel when you can’t have what you want, sometimes something you are entitled to, something within your grasp but which keeps slipping through your fingers. For a few minutes let’s focus on the causes of frustration.
First, ask yourself, “Am I attempting to do the impossible? Is my frustration the result of having impossible expectations? I’m convinced that most of us are guilty by default. Only if you can walk on water or have a hot line to heaven that apparently Elijah, Daniel, and the twelve who walked with Jesus didn’t have, could you get done everything you are attempting to do. So that means we bring upon ourselves some of the frustrations we experience today.
The solution is threefold: simplify, simplify, simplify. Learn to say, No. Focus on doing well what you do rather than doing more.
But don’t blame yourself for everything that frustrates you. We live in an imperfect broken world and that includes the products that are made in the world–usually put together by the lowest bidder. That’s why your iPhone isn’t going to last forever, and the computer–yes, God knows how they can cause frustration–is going to fail in a couple years or else the hard drive won’t be large enough to handle the new program you want to run.
Of course, if you run the rubber on your tires into the cord, you’re going to have a flat tire, and that frustration can’t be blamed on Firestone. The complexities of life today produce frustration. Sometimes you have to shut things down and say, “I’ll fight that another day. I’m going home.”
Sometimes God is trying to get through to us in our frustration, letting us know that what you want to accomplish–your goal–is out of sync with His will for your life. Remember how Balaam wanted to curse God’s people, and how an angel of the Lord stopped the donkey he was riding. Balaam kicked the donkey in the ribs, frustrated that he would not move, and–are you ready for this?–God gave voice to the donkey, who rebuked him.
Carl Stahl was disappointed when he arrived too late for his flight home, but it was God who spared his life as the plane he intended to take crashed and burned. More than a few stories have emerged from the Sept. 11 disasters as individuals were delayed, overslept, or missed a train and the result was that their lives were spared.
Frustration should be a red flag that says, “Stop! Think! Look up and ask, ‘Lord, are you trying to tell me something and I’m so stubborn I’ve missed it?’” How awesome was God’s response to Paul’s frustration when He revealed, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Resource reading: Acts 16.
- 2 Corinthians 12:9