Through one ten-hour day on the road delivering meals all over the metropolitan area I counted up about seventy-three frustrations — from being cognitively overwhelmed, to fleeting confusion about my routes, to delays in traffic, to non-obliging customers, to responses from other road users, to shifting loads and other surprises, to the excessive noise distracting concentration in packing those parcels in an industrial kitchen, even to my own responses to my own fallible decisions on the road, etc. A litany of hindrance. In one working day.
It was as if I was being exposed to every possible frustration within the myriad array.
But the frustrations, themselves, it became apparent, weren’t the central point.
Quickly, God was revealing something deeper in the fabric of possibility.
Frustrations reveal the hidden dimension, behind which is manifest the spiritual realm of character testing.
Within testing, frustrations have their unique and God-appointed-and-shaped purpose.
Only as I let each of these seventy-odd frustrations wash up hard against me did they erode my anger from within me. Even as I tensed up, as if to give way to the anger, I felt a Presence within me reminding me, “It’s a test, so just give your tension to Me.” God showed me, with every ascending temptation to frustration, that each one was a test; and that each one I was able to easily overcome if only I was aware it was a test!
If we go the opposite way, letting frustration mount up on the wings of anger, stock-piling it, then rage threatens with unparalleled and frightening immediacy.
Rage catches up with everyone who must hide their honesty. Frustration is quickly turned to anger in the form of rage for the person who cannot live the sort of reality for which their deepest soul craves.
The task is clear. Let us ensure frustration becomes something useful, not something violent. If only we could turn the frustration into something useful, and we can. If only we could turn it into something akin to its polar opposite: fun.
When frustrations are taken mindfully, and that mindfulness of Christ, through the Holy Spirit, makes us aware of the testing, we’re able to see it, overcome the frustration, then to enjoy a spiritual strength we perhaps had never before seen. That joy makes us laugh; for spiritual capacities in torment, for potentialities of distance in tumult, for perspective in the trial.
Suddenly we’re having fun in our frustration, and we might say in our response to the frustration, as Jesus did, “Get behind me, Satan.”
With every frustration won over, and not a temptation lost to rage, we’ve endured patiently, through surrender.
The awareness that sees frustration as temptation to anger is the same awareness empowering us to endure patiently.
When we know how to deal with frustrations in the moment, we’re then able to find the fun in what comes next.
The feeling of victory when we overcome our frustration is tantamount to joy. And that’s the best sort of fun!
What is the use of frustration other than as impetus to overcome it?
As I reflected over the day that could’ve been from hell, both in those very moments, and especially later, I was given cause to thank God for the situational awareness only He could give me. To manage those moments, with courage, patience, and the wisdom to know, “This, too, shall pass.” And, to experience victory over those frustrations.
It’s in these times of shrieking defeat that we still have the choice, smile, breathe, be still, and start all over again.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.