We don’t have to be miserable, frustrated and unhappy in difficult places. If you and I have been in the world very long, we’ve learned there are very few days that go exactly the way we’d like them to go. There always seem to be different things happening that can affect our plans. Until we learn that our joy can’t be based on our circumstances, we’re going to have nothing but what I call a “yo-yo” experience, which is up and down, up and down, up and down. We have to find a way to stay happy, even when our circumstances don’t suit us or we don’t get a breakthrough as quickly as we’d like–or when people around us aren’t what we’d like them to be or they’re frustrating us or there’s disappointment.
God is never going to put us into a situation or permit us to be in one, without giving us the ability to be in it with joy. I believe God makes His grace available to us each and every day. If God asks us to stay in a situation, then He is going to give us a special grace, for a special season, to experience His peace and joy despite the circumstances. It’s the kind of grace that causes other people to look at us and think, I’m just amazed you are able to do this and still have so much joy and peace. This is how it should be instead of us telling them that we just don’t think we can make it.
As Christians, I believe the attitude we live with and the level of joy, peace and stability seen in our life is what will speak to the people around us much more than if we try to preach to them. It’s about how we live our life in front of them, especially when things are not going perfectly for us all the time.
For people in places right now who are saying, “I’m staying in the situation because I believe it’s what God wants me to do, but I’m so miserable, frustrated and unhappy,” there’s good news. The good news is that God has provided a way for us to deal with frustration– His grace. I know many times we hear that grace is God’s riches at Christ‘s expense, and that’s a good definition. But to be honest, it’s just a little bit too spiritual for me. I need something that’s going to put it into a practical format for me. I like to define grace as “God’s power to help us do whatever it is we need to do.”
Grace is power. It’s power, power, power! It’s God’s power we receive by the grace of God through faith. Everything comes to us through faith, which God also gives us.
Romans 12:3 says, …God has allotted to each a measure of faith (NASB). We need to ask ourselves, “What am I doing with my faith?” Are we putting our faith in ourselves? Are we trying to fix things ourselves by trying to change ourselves or our family? Or trying to get our boss’s attention so we can make more money and get a promotion? If so, that’s not grace. It’s our own works.
But when we release our faith and trust God to do what we can’t do, we’re putting our faith in Him. Then the grace–which is God’s power–comes through the channel of faith and enables us to do what will just amaze us and other people.
Here’s my longer definition of grace: It’s God’s power coming to us freely–meaning it doesn’t cost us anything other than just putting our faith in God, enabling us to do with ease what we could never do on our own with any amount of struggle and effort.
I believe every time we feel frustration, it means we’ve really stopped relying on God, leaning on Him and receiving His grace and are trying to make something happen our own way. Understanding this really helped me to see that I spent a lot of time being frustrated. To help myself, I had some signs made to put up around my house that said things like, “Works of the flesh equal frustration.” Every time I became frustrated, the signs helped me remember I had tried to become Holy Spirit Junior. When I try to work things out on my own, in essence I’m saying, “Okay, God, I appreciate Your being around, but watch me do this.”
Most of us have a problem with an independent spirit. We have difficulty depending on God for everything. Grace is not only the power for salvation; it’s the victory we need every single day of our life.
In Galatians 2, the Bible says that if we receive salvation by grace, we shouldn’t think we’re going to reach perfection by depending on our flesh. It’s like thinking that God saves us and helps us when we’re at the end of ourselves and ready to give up, then just kind of throws us the ball and says, “Okay, now you go make the touchdown.”
The same way we receive Christ is the same way we are supposed to live each day of our life–in total, complete dependence on Him. Grace is like light. But what we tend to do a lot of the time is fight with darkness, when all we need to do is just run to the light. What’s the purpose of gathering in the dark, banging into each other, struggling with the darkness and trying to punch it out, when all we have to do is turn on a switch? The minute the light comes on, it swallows up the darkness.
Too often we struggle with ourselves and our weaknesses, trying to change, spending time being mad about things in our life. But what we really need to do is just get more light into the situation.
Galatians 5:16 urges us to walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit…then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh…. Notice how it doesn’t say “conquer the flesh so you can walk in the Spirit.”
What we need to do is walk in the Spirit. When we concentrate on walking in the Spirit, we won’t fulfill the lust of the flesh because we will be focused on God, His goodness, our relationship with Him, and His love for us. Other things will just dissipate because of the power of God in our life. Grace is power–plain and simple. It’s the power of God available to us in whatever amount we need.
I’m so frustrated! That just aggravates me!”
How often have you said or thought those words? I know I’ve felt this way many times. But I’ve learned that we can come to a point in our lives where we don’t experience being aggravated and frustrated every day. In fact, aggravated and frustrated is not the condition God wants us to live in. Let me show you what I mean.
In John 14:27 (AMP), Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you: My [own] peace I now give…to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]”
Now, there’s a worldly peace we have when everything is going our way. But the peace Jesus gives is a totally different quality of peace than what the world gives. It’s a peace that passes our understanding; it makes us peaceful when all natural reasoning says we should be upset.
We can make the decision to stop allowing ourselves to get upset, aggravated and frustrated. Although we may think, “I can’t help it,” according to Jesus, we can help it. He offers us peace that can keep us from getting this way.
It’s important for us to realize that we have a responsibility to not let our hearts be troubled or afraid. We will never break loose from anything we’re struggling with until we take personal responsibility for where we are now.
Most people just want to blame someone or something else for their problems – a bad childhood, their lack of education, their nationality, their personality – and make excuses for the way they are. But we can’t let the things from our past, or present, become an excuse to stay there. Believe me…I know.
I grew up in a home full of turmoil. It was a very unstable, unpleasant atmosphere, filled with alcohol, anger and all kinds of abuse. However, I learned that I had to take responsibility for my actions if my life would ever be different than what I experienced throughout my childhood.
I remember when I realized that living with frustration, aggravation and worry really just did me no good at all. All I ever got from being this way was a headache, a back ache, a grouchy attitude, and regret for saying things I never should have said.
As I began to take responsibility and say, “God will help me to do something about this if I really want Him to,” things began to change. It wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen overnight, but as I trusted God more and more to help me, and then made right choices to act like Christ instead of the way I felt like acting when I was upset or didn’t get my way, I changed. I learned to live with the peace Jesus gives.
And you can too. We can have anything God says we can have. He is no respecter of persons. The promises of God are for “whosoever will” (see Acts 10:34-35). We’re all “whosoevers,” but not all of us are willing to do what we need to do to inherit the promises of God. We may be willing to hear the truth, but are we willing to do what it says?
I want to challenge you to decide right now to be determined and persistent in seeking God and being obedient to what He’s telling you to do. Our enemy, the devil, is persistent and will do whatever he can to wear us out and keep us from God’s will. But we need to have the same tenacity in Christ to never give up – by God’s grace – and make him sorry he ever bothered us.
Remember, as a born-again Christian, you are full of the Spirit of the living God, who makes us more than conquerors. We should plan ahead to stay peaceful during trials. Everything is not going to go our way all the time, and when it doesn’t, we can be prepared to stay in peace in the midst of it all.
Let your confession be: “With God’s help, I don’t have to be aggravated or frustrated. I can stay calm and hold my peace.” The ability to display stability and remain calm in troubled times can be one of our greatest testimonies to a troubled world.
1 Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to build up[a] the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads[b] to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. 3 In His own time He has revealed His message in the proclamation that I was entrusted with by the command of God our Savior:
4 To Titus, my true son in our common faith.
5 The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone and, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town: 6 one who is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful[c] children not accused of wildness or rebellion. 7 For an overseer, as God’s administrator, must be blameless, not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not addicted to wine, not a bully, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.
10 For there are also many rebellious people, full of empty talk and deception, especially those from Judaism.[d] 11 It is necessary to silence them; they overthrow whole households by teaching what they shouldn’t in order to get money dishonestly. 12 One of their very own prophets said,
13 This testimony is true. So, rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith 14 and may not pay attention to Jewish myths and the commands of men who reject the truth.
15 To the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work.
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.
3 I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you,[a] 4 always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you[b] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 7 It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart,[c] and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how deeply I miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, 10 so that you can approve the things that are superior and can be pure and blameless in[d] the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.
12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has actually resulted in the advance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard,[e] and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is in the cause of Christ. 14 Most of the brothers in the Lord have gained confidence from my imprisonment and dare even more to speak the message[f] fearlessly. 15 To be sure, some preach Christ out of envy and strife, but others out of good will.[g] 16 These do so out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the others proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely, seeking to cause me anxiety in my imprisonment.[h] 18 What does it matter? Just that in every way, whether out of false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed. And in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice 19 because I know this will lead to my deliverance[i] through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 20 My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ—which is far better— 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25 Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that, because of me, your confidence may grow in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.
27 Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind,[j] working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel, 28 not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your deliverance—and this is from God. 29 For it has been given to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him, 30 having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.
To the elect lady[b] and her children: I love all of you in the truth—and not only I, but also all who have come to know the truth— 2 because of the truth that remains in us and will be with us forever.
4 I was very glad to find some of your children walking in the truth, in keeping with a command we have received from the Father. 5 So now I urge you, dear lady—not as if I were writing you a new command, but one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6 And this is love: that we walk according to His commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: you must walk in love.[c]
7 Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh.[d] This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves so you don’t lose what we[e] have worked for, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home, and don’t say, “Welcome,” to him; 11 for the one who says, “Welcome,” to him shares in his evil works.
12 Though I have many things to write to you, I don’t want to do so with paper and ink. Instead, I hope to be with you and talk face to face[f] so that our joy may be complete.
13 The children of your elect sister send you greetings.