Friday, May 9, 2008

Five Steps in Handling Common Frustrations

Yesterday we discussed common frustrations that we all face. Today, let's find out what we can do about them!

Step #1: Ask yourself, "Did I cause it?"

Galatians 6:7 (GNB) Do not deceive yourselves; no one makes a fool of God. You will reap exactly what you plant.
When you've got an irritation, when you've got a frustration, ask yourself, "Did I bring this on myself? Why am I frustrated? Did I cause it?" Many things in life we are frustrated by we brought on ourselves. We don't have anybody else to blame. We're reaping what we've sown. You have to be honest. I'm pressured by an interruption because I've got a deadline to meet. Probably the reasons you're pressured is because you procrastinated and didn't start soon enough and tried to do it in a little amount of time instead of doing it in what it took. You run out of gas on a trip and that's frustrating. But who's to blame? You simply didn't prepare. You didn't stop to get gas. So don't blame anybody else, you're reaping what you've sown.

A key that the book of Proverbs teaches through those 31 chapters is this principle: the Principle of Learning to Live on a Margin. In other words, the reason why we get under a lot of stress is because... if it cost $15, we allocate exactly $15 instead of $18; and if it's going to take us 21 minutes to get to a meeting, we allocate exactly 21 minutes instead of 25 or 30. And we all know that most of the time it is going to take longer than you thought it would, and it's going to cost more than you thought it would. Part of the reason we're under constant stress and frustrated by little things is we allocate just the amount of time instead of allocating a little extra and then enjoying the peace that comes with that when you get there five minutes early or have a little left over. Learn to live on a margin.

Step #2: You ask yourself, "What can I learn from it?

Romans 8:28 (GNB) We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.

Use the irritation as an opportunity to grow in character. Use the irritation as an opportunity to be more like Christ. Use it, don't just endure it. How does God produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives? He allows you in the opposite situation. If God wants to teach you love, He will put you around unlovely people. It's easy to love people who are lovely. If God wants to teach you joy, He will allow you to go through difficult times where you can learn inner joy which is different from happiness. If God wants to teach you peace, He will allow you in a situation which is total chaos so you can have inner peace. If God wants to teach you patience, He'll allow you to be in lines or put you in rush hour traffic. We learn the fruit of the Spirit by being placed in the opposite situation.

That's what Romans 8:28-29 is all about, "All things work together for good." He does not say, all things are good, because there are many bad things in the world, but all things work together and even the negative God can turn into a positive if we will let Him.

The oyster takes an irritation, a grain of sand, and turns it into a pearl. You can turn the irritations in your life into pearls if you respond in the right way.

Step #3: Thank God in the situation

Philippians 4:6 (GNB) Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart.

1Thessalonians 5:18 (GNB) be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.

You say, "But you don't know my problems!" Two of the hardest verses in the Bible to obey are Philippians 4:6 "Worry about nothing" and 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In everything give thanks"

You thank God in the situation because that frustration, that irritation, that inconvenience, that interruption, may be a blessing in disguise. It may be an opportunity. Opportunities love to come to us disguised as irritations or inconveniences. They don't wear a sign that says, "I am a blessing. Notice me. I am a tremendous opportunity. Take advantage of me." No, half the time we never realize they were opportunities until later. In retrospect you say, "Now I see what God was trying to do!"

In Chinese, the symbol for the word "crisis" is made up of two words -- "danger" and "opportunity". You put them together and you get "crisis". In every crisis there is both danger and there is opportunity. In every frustration, there is irritation and opportunity.

Winston Churchill failed sixth grade. He was subsequently defeated in every election for public office until he became Prime Minister at the age of 62. He later wrote, "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never, Never, Never, Never give up." (his capitals, mind you)

Thomas Edison's teachers said he was "too stupid to learn anything." He was fired from his first two jobs for being "non-productive." As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn't fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."

Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4-years-old and did not read until he was 7. His parents thought he was "sub-normal," and one of his teachers described him as "mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams." He was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. He did eventually learn to speak and read. Even to do a little math.

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because "he lacked imagination and had no good ideas." He went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. In fact, the proposed park was rejected by the city of Anaheim on the grounds that it would only attract riffraff.

Charles Schultz had every cartoon he submitted rejected by his high school yearbook staff. Oh, and Walt Disney wouldn't hire him.

When Lucille Ball began studying to be an actress in 1927, she was told by the head instructor of the John Murray Anderson Drama School, "Try any other profession."

You can look at Paul and see how he wanted to go to Rome to preach, but God took Paul to Rome to be in prison and write the letters which formed the New Testament. I'm certain that Paul was frustrated but God saw it as an opportunity to make him sit still long enough to write the Bible.

Step #4: Turn the frustration into a funny, a humorous event.

Pro 17:22 (GNB) Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time.

The Bible says that we are to "Rejoice in the Lord always." Laughter is the shock absorber of life. It lightens the load, it makes things more palatable. A sense of humor is God's antidote for anger and frustration. You cannot laugh at a frustration and blow up at the same time. You inject a sense of humor and see life as a gift and humor as a tool to be used in handling the knocks and the bumps and the little things that are killing us. Learn to laugh at them.

Inject humor into situations and it makes it so much easier. What told me that Ronald Reagan was a good man, regardless of what you think about him politically, was what he said after the attempted assassination upon his life: "I forgot to duck!" That is classic. That indicates a man of real balance, real emotional stability who can inject humor into a situation. He was almost assassinated yet he had this perspective that kept everything in balance.

If you want strength for the frustrations, the irritations, the interruptions, the inconveniences of life, inject humor into it. Don't sweat the small stuff and realize it's all small stuff from God's viewpoint.

Step #5: Ask God to fill you with His love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, 5 Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, 6 Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, 7 Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. 8 Love never dies.

Love is self-giving, not self-serving. We get irritated, frustrated, mad, and uptight because we think everyone and everything has to revolve around us. When it doesn't, we get irritated. It's an ego problem. My problem, your problem -- every one of us has it. We think everyone else's schedule, everyone else's time, everyone else's energy revolve around our schedule. So when someone interrupts it, we're offended -- "How dare you interrupt my life!"

Love concentrates on the other person. A loving person would realize that the clerk has probably had a tough day and already had fifteen people griping at her. She has a right to be a little edgy. The reason we get uptight is we want to be the center and we think everything has to revolve around us, so we resent it or resist it or we resign to it in self-pity.

Jesus was constantly interrupted in His life. The problem that He faced with everybody wanting part of His time was immense; yet, He always made time for people. People were a priority in His life.

When you have an interruption, it is often an indication or a reminder from God that says, "Where are your priorities?" We get so preoccupied with our own time, our own schedule, our own things; we forget that people are the priority in life.

Jesus told a whole parable to illustrate it. It's called the Good Samaritan. A guy got hurt by the side of the road one day, hit by some robbers who mugged him, beat him up, and took his clothes and money. Three people walked by. The first two totally ignored him, and they were religious people, priests. They said, "I don't have time for that guy." They saw that person in need as an inconvenience, an interruption, an irritation. They walked on by. The third guy, the Samaritan, came by and said, "I will make his problems, my problems. I will take the time. I will pay the cost because people are a priority." He made time, even though it was a major inconvenience. I want to do the same thing! How about you? Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

This weekend's "THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR" Bible reading:

Friday, May 9-Psalm 52:1 – Psalm 54:1
Saturday, May 10-Psalm 54:1 – Psalm 56:13
Sunday, May 11- Psalm 57:1 – Psalm 59:17