Thriving in a Time of Frustration
The day was absolutely perfect for a run to clear my head! To avoid the gnawing feelings of discontent with my job, my seemingly non-existent ministry, and my season of life, I escaped through my music during the entire 3-mile run. As I finished, I knew I had to confront my feelings by taking them to the Lord. Finally unplugging my earphones I silently prayed with some frustration:
Lord, what on earth do you want me to do with my life? I’m ready! Where do you want me?
I can’t tell you how many times I had prayed that prayer over the past several months. However, this time was different – I decided to listen for His answer, not mine. In the midst of my heavy post-run breaths and cool-down steps, my Abba Father spoke as clear as day:
You are living life. You are where I want you.
I literally stopped in my tracks and laughed. It made perfect sense!
I began reflecting on the past several months and how my discontent had manifested itself in various ways. Perhaps the clearest way had been through my current job. I had desperately tried to get out – I applied for various jobs, hoped for interviews, and waited. After little success, I decided maybe I just needed to “sit still and know that God is God.” So, I waited, prayed, and voila! the perfect opportunity presented itself! Everything about it seemed right – the ministry, the people, the pay. Key word: seemed.
Through my biased perception I saw it as an escape out of my own reality. After getting into the interview process a bit more the Lord would not let me rest. I couldn’t sleep one night, and the next day I couldn’t focus on my studies no matter how hard I tried. After fighting against my own desires, I finally realized that the Father was giving me blatant signs that this seemingly open door wasn’t a door at all, rather a distraction and hindrance! With a slightly selfish inclination I sent a grateful e-mail containing my hesitant retreat from the interview process.
Afterwards, it was as if a burden had been lifted! I could not even begin to describe the peace I knew was directly from the Father. Not only that, but as a few days passed by, I experienced supernatural refreshment in my spirit for my current job.
Nothing had changed except that I simply opened my eyes to see the ministry the Lord had given to me already where I was working and living.
However, fast forward a couple of months and I found myself in the exact same discontented place praying the same prayer which ultimately led to my 3 mile run. In essence, I kept saying and believing with all my heart: God, this cannot possibly be where you want me because it’s definitely not where I want to be!
In my ongoing reflections, I kept remembering the women I had encountered over the past several weeks that expressed a similar honest, raw thought about their own lives. It was evident to me, not just in my specific circumstance, that as humans we are always praying, and on the lookout for the next step. Nothing inherently wrong exists within such logic, but when we refuse to persevere, learn, and thrive in the season that God has us, we’re living in sinful discontent.
The truth is that we make ourselves our God, dictating how our lives ought to be planned out. In other words, we are ultimately refusing to submit to the sovereignty and authority of God in our lives. This does not mean the Father ignores us in the midst of our discontent, but desires for us to see that what He has is so much more beautiful, satisfying, and yes, sanctifying. At this moment in my self-evaluation, God reminded me of the verse He had led me to several weeks prior, ironically given to me through the interview process with the seemingly open door months before:
“Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” (Ps 37:3)
Most of us know the verse right after this one, “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” How essential to know that the Father calls us to trust in Him first, to thrive where He has us, and to cultivate faithfulness, for then God places desires in our hearts that only He can fulfill!
When we put our desires ahead of Him we are left with discontent and frustration.
I continued to laugh and smile as I walked to my car, thanking the Lord for His faithfulness in opening my eyes to see that I was in the middle of the life He willed into existence – nothing needed to change except my self-absorbed perception of my current circumstances.
In all truth, there were plenty of opportunities to do good, to dwell in the land, and to cultivate faithfulness: In my job He provided innumerable opportunities to encourage others in Christ – a ministry I had been privileged to be a part of; The home in which I lived I was able to open up to both believers and non-believers alike – a blessing I had not been able to extend in prior seasons; In my relationships I had opportunities to deepen current ones and build new ones in unexpected areas – an answer to prayer for the Gospel to be spread in my life.
My prayer has now become the following:
Abba Father, show me how to do good where you have me. Show me the opportunities to cultivate faithfulness in this land that I live – in my job, in my home, in my classes, and in my relationships. I continue to pray for discernment in knowing your leadership, but do not let me miss out on the good that I can do in the land you have me dwelling in despite whether or not this season be short or long in its term.