Frustrated? Yeah, I thought so

Let me ask you a quick question: Do you get frustrated?

(Long pause.)

I thought so.

(If you didn’t say yes, you’re probably frustrated with me right now for even asking.)

Let me pose another: Do you think it’s fated or do you and I have some recourse?

(If you’re hoping I’ll stop, you can relax. I’m not trying to expose your inadequacies to shame you, I’m trying to recommend to you a strength that’s greater than all the frustrations we daily face in this world.)

You don’t have to strengthen your present armor, you just have to ask Someone to become your armor. Not so that you will never get frustrated again, but so that your frustrations will not possess you and hold you captive. So that, when frustrations assault you, you will have a defense–a confidence greater than what assails you.

You and I have available to us a grace that fortifies us with peace in the midst of our frustrations and carries us with mercy when we fall. Neither depression nor expressions of anger or fear can manipulate us when the Force within us is greater than that without.

We know that Christ is great enough to confront everything we face because where we failed in keeping God’s law, He didn’t. He lived in our frustrating world and was as susceptible to its threats as we are, yet He didn’t live according to its dictates or mirror its orientation in His soul. His soul was unblemished. And rather than be frustrated by the world, He frustrated it.

He died on behalf of hopeless sinners who defied God’s judgments. He fulfilled those judgments on our behalf and by doing so exalted God in all the earth. But His mission had no ultimate meaning except in this: that He return us prodigals and pharisees to His Father, that He might also be our Father too.

Who could do this work instead of Him? Who could live as though it didn’t exist? We all can. And yet, in this work is all the answer we have to living in this frustrating world. We put it to work by trusting Jesus; believing that He has removed the frustration that is between natural man and God. We confess that every frustration in us and in our world comes from this one ruined relationship and we acknowledge that we are the ones who deserve the blame for it.

We accept His provision of mercy and forgiveness with wonder–both are undeserved and costly, the mark of a Heart more generous and compassionate and selfless than all others. The only one true heart.

And He has offered in His salvation plan to both accomplish our acceptance in righteousness and make our heart mirror His. This is a sweet deal for us who need a higher calling than here and the blessed fortitude to live it out!

Oh, give us eyes to see the One who encompasses us about in every trouble. You alone can do this, O God!

 

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How shall I know power if I am weak?

What does God’s power look like, do you think? Must it always appear the same way — should it always be stationed in the same vicinities and triumph by predictable means?

Or, is our God ever unique? Is He steadfastly after our hearts and our neighbors hearts — who ever they happen to be at the moment — in new and exciting ways?

Can He be capable of more than we can see? And what is more convicting: Is He possibly now busily at work accomplishing works of redemption and healing while we complain that His mercies are no where to be found?

What if the kindnesses of God have escaped our view not because He has hidden every trace of hope from us, but because we have chosen blindness over seeing Him? Is it not true that we cannot see the works of a Savior unless we look for Him first?

And from where might a Savior emerge? Doesn’t He show up more regularly on the scene of disaster than a parade of bliss? Doesn’t He pass by unnoticed in the ho-hum days when there is no evidence of our need/desire for His services? Isn’t He crucial to our existence only on a desperation basis?

Therefore, if we need His rescue, the only thing that could prevent us from receiving its benefits would be in denying either our need or His ability. The first error of a desperate sinner with an unexplainable aversion to rescue is rooted in apathy. Despite being suspended over hell by consequences of our own actions, we excuse the situation from which we need escape as something that is “really not that bad” whether this is due to ourselves not being that bad, or God being too precise in His expectations of our repentance.

The second error is also a quality of faithlessness, but in this case it is sated in doubt of God that is a disguise for woefully misplaced grief. We know we are in a bad spot, and that there is no undoing what we have done to get ourselves here, but if only God had helped us be better people, we would not be in this spot. God is the reason we are here on death row at all.

The cure for both apathy and self-pity is nothing less than choosing to believe God for what His Word says. Faith in God — the strenuous and only legitimate work of the soul — takes hold of the gospel in such a way that it turns us out of our own one-man sin party and instead compels our spirits to be united to the God of heaven. It recognizes that we are sinners at no fault of God’s yet He has mercifully reached out to save us. We will accept His offer at whatever terms He gives us; trusting that He will fulfill His promises to completely transform us into God-fearing and God- glorifying individuals that will one day fill His presence with praise and passion.

The Storm can only be a witness to my God’s unshakable strength

Does the storm shake you?

What does God look like in your storm? The Bible calls Him the Lion of Judah, the one who does not grow weak or weary, the Lamb of our salvation who changes not. Is that what you see?

When the stormy gusts rush through, rattling your soul, do you look into the depths of chaos before which you can do nothing, or do you turn and satisfy yourself with the beautiful order and calm emanating from our Lord?

If you are missing His mercies, maybe its time to ask yourself, Am I truly taking shelter under His wing or am I needlessly missing the comforts awaiting me there?

Unshakable. Is that what you see in your God, or are you trying to keep an eye on both Him and the happenings around you?

Are you missing the fact that He has reared the storm you’re in to confront you and your life-watchers with who His wonders? Do you forget the One you serve is the same God who wooed Jacob with a wrestling match and brought justice to Pharoah’s slaves by coming to Egypt in the spirit of death?

The might and love of God that we see in places where only He can stand are strong enough to change the world, beginning with our own hearts. Why? Because watching God becomes a journey in itself.

If the image we have of God is of a being quite like us in depth and form and devise, than it is no wonder that we fear the storm we are in is too big. And yet, the God that we serve is at once in the storm that touches us, and in the heart that is touched.

It is love to excite us in the deepest places of our beings so that He might be invited there. Only Love would draw close to to all of our ugliness and gore.

Indeed, the blackest parts of the storm are not the places that remove the sun from me, but the ones  in which I have removed the Son from myself. And in walking me through these regions He allows me to be disturbed by what disturbs Him. There is nothing to be feared in the evil around me or the events over which I have no control. What keeps me in turmoil is the evil in my life that I am responsible for — the frightful motions of a heart without the fullness of God-knowledge.

 

Weaker Than I Need to Be

I’m taking a poll here, how does the statement “fear of any form of conflict” affect you? Do you fit into this category, or do you despise this phobia and its implications? How many people do you know who have this?

I guess we all suffer from this affliction to some extent, but I am thinking of individuals who live in this state their entire lives, never knowing that they are one-conflict-farther-away-from-no-more-fear than they need to be.

How many of us think that we will have a better life if we have no conflict, or imagine that we’re not strong enough to ride the waves that will get us to that infamous shore?

I know that I have felt like that. What if I let me true feelings be known, and rather than being respected, they are treated in such a way as to communicate that they mean nothing?

Another thing I don’t like the thought of is becoming the object of discussion so that everyone will have a chance to point out everything that’s wrong about me.

There is so much that could be gained from being open and honest, but how badly will I be cut up? It may be the only way, but if I have to die to do it, maybe I would rather live with a little less.

In many cases these are not unfounded fears. Yet, it is a shame that we stick to our impulses on this one. We may not feel strong, but could we become more able and secure than we are?

Consider for a moment the implications made in these verses from Isaiah 65:17:

[ New Heavens and a New Earth ] “Pay close attention now: I’m creating new heavens and a new earth. All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain are things of the past, to be forgotten. Look ahead with joy. Anticipate what I’m creating: I’ll create Jerusalem as sheer joy, create my people as pure delight. I’ll take joy in Jerusalem, take delight in my people: No more sounds of weeping in the city, no cries of anguish; No more babies dying in the cradle, or old people who don’t enjoy a full lifetime; One-hundredth birthdays will be considered normal— anything less will seem like a cheat. They’ll build houses and move in. They’ll plant fields and eat what they grow. No more building a house that some outsider takes over, No more planting fields that some enemy confiscates, For my people will be as long-lived as trees, my chosen ones will have satisfaction in their work. They won’t work and have nothing come of it, they won’t have children snatched out from under them. For they themselves are plantings blessed by God, with their children and grandchildren likewise God-blessed. Before they call out, I’ll answer. Before they’ve finished speaking, I’ll have heard. Wolf and lamb will graze the same meadow, lion and ox eat straw from the same trough, but snakes—they’ll get a diet of dirt! Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill anywhere on my Holy Mountain,” says God.

If our God can do this, can He not enable us to grow strong and steady; able to face every wind that comes our way with confidence and integrity, knowing that He supplies everything our lives depend on to stand and endure?