I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11
You are on a business trip when you receive a notice that your return flight has been cancelled. This means you either will miss your ongoing flight or you must leave the day before your scheduled departure. The problem is that your business isn’t finished so leaving the day before is not an option.
Immediately your hands begin to perspire and your stomach begins to knot. Whether or not you are aware of it, your blood pressure just jumped and your heart beats faster.
Living in a world when the future is on hold and everything is subject to change isn’t the most tranquil, peaceful existence, yet—face it—you don’t choose when to take your place in the line that reschedules flights, hoping that there will be space for you on another flight. You take it as it comes.
Travel isn’t the only frustration-producing experience. I’m thinking of my grandson, barely over two years of age, who patiently stood in line with his mother to take a little kids ride at an amusement park, and after waiting for almost thirty minutes, he was ready to take the ride when the attendant put down the bar and said, “That’s all for today! Sorry!” Sure, tell that to a little kid who barely understands what he’s saying; but the formidable bar that comes down blocking his path to the little car speaks a thousand languages.
That bar may represent something totally different to you—a lawsuit, a job cancellation, a rejection notice, a “Sorry, we like your idea, but we’ve got too many books by that title already.”
When things don’t go the way I had anticipated, and the bar drops in front of me, I’ve learned—sometimes through trying times—to do several things:
First, think through your options. This may mean mentally backing away from the frustration of not getting your way and asking, “OK, what other choices do I have?” If you can’t cross a mountain, ask how can you get around it, and if you can’t go around, can you tunnel through.
Next, pray! No, God won’t put an extra flight into an airline schedule for you or cause the operator of the ride at the amusement park to keep the little kids cars running longer, but He does know what’s best for you and can give you wisdom in thinking through your options.
Once you’ve talked to God, talk to yourself. Say something like this, “Don’t panic; this isn’t the end of the road. Life’s a long time and there’s a solution to every problem.” This means keep your perspective. When you are steamed up, angry, or really frustrated, you don’t think clearly. Your thinking is destructive, your emotions angry, and your logic flawed. Relax and rest in the Lord.
David, a man who knew frustration from the inside out, advised, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). Samuel, the prophet, anointed David to be king, but it took seven long years, a lot of heartache, and so much frustration that unless he had learned to trust God, he would have ended up in a mental institution.
No wonder he cried out, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13, NKJV). A closing thought. While life looks very disjointed and crazy from our vantage, God looks beyond that and sees a pattern known only to Him. That’s why you can trust Him to take you through when the bar drops down blocking your forward progress. Don’t forget it. That’s the only way you can say with Paul, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).
Resource reading: 2 Corinthians 11:22-33.