FRUSTRATION: a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.
To me, frustration is like emotional constipation! Sorry, I know that is terribly graphic. When I am frustrated I feel like I have all of these bottled up emotions that are dying to escape and hit their target in the form of words or fists. It’s like being in a pressure cooker and it’s horrible. I’ll go ahead and add here that I’ve never actually punched anyone out of my frustration but I’ve certainly wanted to. There was a time in my life that I didn’t stay frustrated for long because I let my irritation be known to whoever was causing it. It was great while I was releasing my frustration but there was almost always regret and doubt after I finished saying whatever I felt needed to be said. As I started really spending more time with the Lord, He finally showed me that sometimes my frustrations were going to have to be resolved between myself and God. So here are a few things to try next time you are frustrated…
First, pray! I ask God to resolve the issue that is causing me frustration and I ask Him for discernment and wisdom.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. | James 1:4-8
Is there something that I need to be doing differently? Am I ultimately the source of my own frustration? The key to asking this question is being willing to hear the answer. I think most of us find it easy to rationalize our own behaviors and actions but what good is it to tell God you want things to be different if you are unwilling to make the change that’s necessary?
Secondly, I also have to change what I am thinking about. It’s hard to stop rehashing an issue in your mind over and over again. It’s hard to stop telling God how hard things are over and over again. But once you have given your problem over to God to handle, you have to leave it there. So what do you do with your thoughts? You intentionally refocus them.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. | Philippians 4:8
This takes some practice but it works. Spend time thinking about God. Worship Him and praise Him for who He is. Is God good only when you are happy? Is God just only when life is easy? Is God sovereign only when things are going your way? The answer to all three questions is no. God is who He is despite how we may feel. He doesn’t change according to our circumstances so even when we are upset or frustrated, it is still an appropriate time for worship. What you will find happening is a peace that comes from thinking about God instead of yourself. Your prayer doesn’t have to be flowery, just start listing different attributes of God.
Lastly, I have to be confident that God means what He says. Does He really care? Why am I going through this?
We love Him because He first loved us. | 1 John 4:19
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God to those who are the called according to His purpose. | Romans 8:28
I have never used a pressure cooker but looked up how it works. It does two things. First, the pressure inside the specially sealed pot allows the boiling point of water to go much higher than the usual 212ºF. That means the food can cook faster than it would normally. Secondly, the design of the pressure cooker also forces liquid and moisture into the food quickly so foods like tough meat can get very tender very quickly.
There is an obvious spiritual comparison here. When things are easy in our lives, we tend to forget God. We may pray and read the Bible but our growth is slow because we are comfortable. It’s a sad truth. Many times, it is our pain and our frustration that has us desperately seeking Him. We tend to spiritually grow when we are being challenged. If God is allowing you to be in frustrating circumstances over and over again, He is probably trying to make your tough heart tender!