Lest I leave my readers with the impression that we are all doomed to lives lived in constant states of frustration, I’d like to point us in other directions for the moment.
People sometimes call me ‘sweet’, and my immediate reaction is irritation and a clenched jaw. I am not all that sweet, believe me. What I am is probably too cautious in speaking my mind, (hence, the clenched jaw!) (I’m working on this.) I tell you this in order to segue to the topic of my own frustrations and anger, both of which eventually led me to make a basic life decision which I do not regret. I am not sure that it is the ‘right’ one. And I almost wish I was stronger, and hadn’t needed to make it. But I wasn’t, and I still am not.
My belief in grace allowed me to make this choice.
For some reason, in my life, my experience has been that fairly constant deprivation and frustration seemed to be the price I paid for trying to help, for doing what I thought people wanted or even needed me to do, for doing what I thought God wanted me to do. For doing what I thought was right. I am not speaking of emotional tolls only, but ofttimes physical deprivations of necessary rest, or even food. I’m not speaking here of a period of weeks or months, but years. This can only go on so long. A person will collapse. Or start screaming. One might even have a stroke, or heart attack. But somethin’s gotta give.
I’m not sure exactly when I realized my anger was approaching the danger zone.At least several years ago, maybe more. Probably more. But I knew my anger had to subside. As I thought about at least some of the times I’d get angry, I saw that I wasn’t being satisfied, or fulfilled. Dialing down the anger required choosing to do what I wanted. I had to find some personal satisfaction. The more I thought about this, the more I realized I wasn’t being honest. I had to admit to myself, No, I really don’t want to do this, or go there, or talk to so-and-so. And then take a stand. I had to look into my heart and pinpoint what I really wanted to do, and take the necessary steps (if I could). At times, I had to say things to people that seemed perhaps harsh, but were also truthful and direct. And set me free.
At first glance, this course of action may seem selfish. At second glance, yeah, it still may seem selfish. I’m not saying it isn’t. But if I hadn’t changed my direction, I would have self-destructed.
T.D. Jakes, in his acclaimed book Woman, Thou Art Loosed, talks about reaching a point where the medicine you’ve been applying to others needs to be applied to yourself. Self-sacrifice is good, and has its place, but he cautions against self-destruction.
Pastor David Evans of Bethany Baptist, a local church with a worldwide ministry, once said that a believer in Christ is meant to eventually have the victory over trials and difficulties that enter his life. If he does not, then those situations are not from God, and need to be let go. (I don’t know if this is true, but it felt right to me.)
It was a great relief to me to hear another preacher, Pastor Raymond Gordon of St. Matthew’s Baptist, another church in my area, state that yes, he was hostile! He was hostile because he knew the divine order in which certain situations should be, and weren’t, and he couldn’t change them. I felt vindicated, in part, anyway. Perhaps some of my frustrations, and perhaps some of yours, are a form of divine discontent.
I remember listening to a teaching on audio cassette, titled “The Tree of Frustration vs. the Tree of Life”. Now doesn’t that intrigue you? Unfortunately for me, I ‘loaned’ it to a friend, who lost it. I never did re-order it, and I don’t remember anything specific about the message except that, upon hearing it, my reaction was along these lines: “YES!! Thank you,God!” It was one of those rare jewels of preaching and teaching that identify and clarify circumstances and experiences that seem peculiar to you only. No one else you know has gone through them. You don’t even try talking about them. And you definitely think something is wrong with you, or worse. Until your deliverance comes in the form of a message like this one.
The speaker was Pastor Kelly Varner, of Praise Tabernacle ministries, Richlands, either Northor South Carolina. (When I find one of the quarterly updates I still receive, I’ll insert the correct information here, in case anyone is intrigued enough to order the tape.)
I have often thought that these words of Jesus Christ embody principles concerning the duration of suffering. I wonder if, in some way we can apply at least a part of them to ourselves? Jesus chose to enter into his sufferings, though Gethsemane shows us that He sought the Father with sweat of blood to take that cup from Him (Luke 22:44). Yes, Jesus chose the will of the Father. It wasn’t forced on Him. His life wasn’t taken from Him, though it appeared that way to most at the time. He gave it. And He gave it for a reason. There was a purpose and an end in sight, when Christ went to and through the Cross. He didn’t just suffer endlessly or senselessly. There came a time when it was over.
So, though Jesus’ most horrible execution far exceeds anything any of us will ever suffer, and far surpasses to the nth degree any frustrations that any of us may have to endure, still…I think it’s possible that a pattern may exist here, a pattern validating refusal of certain sufferings.
Thank you so much for stopping by…