And the peace of God, which passes
all understanding, will keep your hearts
and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

F r u s t r aaaaa t i o n!!

by Donna Thompson
January 2006

Ever been so frustrated that it just boils up inside of you and you want to hit something? Or you just want to scream as loud as you can - not at any one or any thing in particular, just at the situation at hand? Well, once again, I open to you the deep, dark hidden aspects of my being to tell you that I've been there – done that! Most of the time I find myself pounding on my steering wheel or dashboard. I also figured out that if you scream as loud as you can in your car with the windows rolled up, absolutely nobody can hear you! Just a little bit of information for you to store away the next time you feel a blood-curdling shriek welling up inside. Of course, the driver next to you might think you're a bit odd with your face contorted in a crimson grimace and your mouth wide open with no sound coming out, but I figure I'll never see that person again, so who cares!

There are all kinds of things that life springs on us but it's the little things that seem to build up, causing us to freak out. At least that's true in my own life - and I trust if you're honest, you've also had days like that. Lately for me, it's been these horrible gas permeable contact lenses that I am forced to wear. They drive me absolutely nuts and the reason I find myself pounding on my steering wheel is because more often than not, if they are going to act up, it's when I'm driving. Not a good time for that to happen and I just get so weary of dealing with this.

Then of course there's the traffic, my job, finances, the traffic, coming home to a mess my dog made, the traffic, long lines and people in the '15 items only' line with a full cart of groceries, especially when you are in a hurry, and did I mention the traffic? Yes, life's frustrations can truly be the bane of our existence and sometimes they rush at us with a vengeance - like our own private little tsunami, threatening to overtake our peace and well-being.

But these frustrations are as much a part of life as are taxes - oops, yet another point of aggravation for many. So why is it that when they come, they quickly zap us of our energy and turn us into wild, shrew-like ogres ready to hit and yell at anything in our path? Most likely, the reason is because like a tsunami, they come on us with no forewarning when we least expect it. We will explode at the littlest thing and wonder "why in the world did 'that' upset us!"

Perhaps one way to guard against the overflow of our cup of frustration is to ask the Lord to help us be aware of the frustrations along the way. God promises peace to His children in two forms. The Bible talks about a "peace with God" and a "peace of God." In both instances, the word "peace" means "the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and thus fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is."

The "peace with God" is what we receive when we accept Christ as our Savior. Romans 5:1 says, "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." The idea here is that once we become children of God, we no longer need to worry about our relationship with Him. We can be secure in the knowledge that everlasting life in heaven is ours because of what Christ has done for us on the cross. Therefore, we can rest and be at peace that our eternal destiny is in HIS hands - He is holding onto us, we are not holding onto Him.

The "peace of God" is what we need to call upon when we are dealing with life here and now and all that it sometimes dumps on us. Philippians 4:6-9 says:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you."

Here we have a promise bracketed by two commands. First, Paul admonishes us to "be anxious for nothing." The Greek word for "anxious" carries a meaning of "to be troubled with cares through the idea of distraction." The word "nothing" is a very strong word indicating a negative idea of no, not, never, nobody. So to put this in a more literal sense, Paul says we are "no, not, never, for any reason or for any body" to be troubled to the point of distraction with the cares of this world. It's that distraction that causes us to take our eyes off of our Lord and when that happens, we sink, just like Peter did when he took his eyes off Jesus while walking on the water!

As Will Rogers might say "Dem dere's purty strong words, cowboy!" But Paul also instructs us how to get this peace. If we take our requests (or petitions) before the Lord about everything (meaning in an individual sense, each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything, or in the collective sense, some of all types), then the promise is that the peace of God will keep your hearts and minds.

But wait - there's more! Paul also says that we are to petition God with our requests but we are to do so with thanksgiving. We sometimes skip over those two little words but I think they are the most important words of all. When was the last time you thanked God in the midst of your frustrations or problems? Have you ever thanked Him FOR the problem? When I am struggling with these irritating contact lenses, I need to stop and thank the Lord that I am able to wear them at all - because this is the only way I'm going to be able to see. It is so easy to focus on the negative and the best way to turn our problems into something positive is to thank Him for each situation.

I have done that many times and I find that when I do, my first reaction is to laugh out loud. Who would think about thanking God for something that is causing you such heartache, anger or frustration! But stop and think - this situation obviously is not something about which God is unaware. I believe that every single thing that happens in our lives must first pass through the hand and scrutiny of our Heavenly Father. Thus, we need to thank Him for the rain, clouds and dreary days as well as thank Him for the warm and pleasant sunny days. Both are necessary and both ultimately end up for our good as Romans 8:28 promises.

Also, when we thank Him for our problems, I believe it squashes Satan's plans to distract us from our focus and God's goal. You can be assured that old nasty serpent is no doubt the author of many of the things that come our way, but we must always remember that he cannot do anything to us that God does not allow. We are protected by our Heavenly Father and He promises never to give us more than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13), and we can be and should be secure in that knowledge. God is always looking out for our best interests and He is always in control!

The next command Paul gives us is in verse 8 where he says we are to think about things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and gracious and to think about that which is excellent and worthy of praise. Who else fits that description but Jesus! Paul also says to follow his example. Remember - Paul says in verse 11 that he has 'learned' to be content in whatever situation he finds himself. Note the word 'learned' - it didn't come naturally to Paul anymore than it comes naturally to us. He had to learn it the hard way, just like we do. But again, when we do these things and think this way and thank Him, God promises HIS peace in the midst of our individual tsunamis.

So the next time you find yourself at the end of your rope, hang on tight, pray and thank the Lord for whatever is going on and then start thinking about good things! See if the peace of God doesn't rain down on you like a warm comforting cloak. You will be engulfed in a feeling you've never experienced. And another plus - when you do thank Him, God is receiving the praise and the credit for being a 'good' God and a loving Father (and quite frankly, I think Satan won't like that a'tall!). He always wants what is best for His children! Trust in that, know it, claim it - and the next time you need to release an emotion, let it be sheer joy and excitement that He is there for you all the time and clap your hands and shout hallelujah! That is sure to confuse the driver next to you!

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