“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us…” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)
I have a friend who often says, “God did not call you to frustrate you, but to fulfill you.” I heartily agree, and yet while God is not the author of frustration, I have often been aware of His use of it in my life. I have come to recognize that often it is an early indicator that the grace for the season that I am in is beginning to fade, making way for the next season of life and ministry.
It’s called transition, both in ministry and in the delivery room. That thing inside you wants out, and there is no place or position in your current season that can alleviate the pain and discomfort of not yet being where you’re going. If you’ve not been there, the explanation may not suffice. If you have, you already know what I mean.
Fulfilling the call of God is to me one of the most satisfying and gratifying things in life, but having something in your heart that you want to get out when it’s not quite time is one of the most frustrating experiences in life. I remember for me it was when I was about to transition out of the traveling ministry and back into pastoring that I felt this most acutely. I was going from church to church across America with a fellow minister, conducting what we called “Holy Ghost Meetings.” The power and demonstration of the Spirit in these meetings was simply awesome. Nearly every meeting was another high water mark it seemed. We stayed busy, not only going to new churches, but very often going back to many of the same churches, which eventually became as dear to us as any home church could be. It was a wonderful time. Until transition hit!
Suddenly sitting in the same place I had sat for years, seeing the same great demonstrations of the power of God, simply wasn’t doing it for me any more. That may sound blasphemous to some, but the fact of the matter was, God was getting ready to move me into another role, and the frustration was simply the birth pangs of the new season of ministry working its way out.
While I continued to travel and hold meetings, I would spend more and more time seeking God, sometimes wondering what in the world was wrong with me. Many men and women of God would have given anything to be able to make their living doing nothing more than watching God do wonder after wonder, night after night, in churches across America, but there was no denying that while I appreciated what God was doing, my time doing it was coming to a close.
In time, God helped me narrow in on exactly what it was He was leading me to do, and one day in Vermont, as we were on the road for yet another meeting, God gave me the definitive direction I had been seeking. Suddenly, the frustration was replaced by an irresistible excitement to be about the work I knew God had assigned me. God had even spoken to my traveling partner, letting him know of the changes that would be coming so he too could prepare for what would be a time of transition for him and his family as well.
I remember being at home between some of our last meetings, making new business cards for our soon-to-launch church and doing correspondence with pastors with whom we had created relationships, informing them of God’s new direction for our lives. I was amazed at how tasks, that at any other time I would have considered the most mundane, were so fulfilling, as they were moving us onward toward the call of God. He supplied supernatural confirmation, finances, and, ultimately, a congregation.
I know that there are many ministers who are frustrated today. Not all frustration is helpful. In fact, many leave the ministry each year because of it. However, I believe we need to learn how to utilize frustration in all of its forms to help us, rather than harm us. My frustration led me to a move forward in the plan of God, which included a geographical change. I moved in every sense of the word. Others may only need to make a move internally. They may need to make a consecration to stay the course in what is a slow, plodding season, where Heaven seems silent and no fresh direction is forthcoming. Sometimes that’s just where we are in our race. We don’t need to move anywhere but inside, and make the proper adjustments in our heart.
Sometimes, we have been responsible for our own frustrations, failing to make changes in our ministry, even personnel changes, when certain situations or people have been to us the proverbial thorn in the flesh. Just sticking our head in the sand and hoping things will change on their own is seldom effective. Prayerful action must be taken to release the breaks on the ministry and get things moving forward again.
I suppose there are too many different ways frustration may visit us to try to address them, and no one set of answers is sufficient to answer every example. In the end, you must allow your frustration to be the alarm to get you moving, whether it’s merely in the direction of a steadfast decision or a more external move in life and ministry. You’ll have to seek God for your specific solution. Just don’t allow your frustrations to take you down. While God may allow frustration to be the kick in the pants we need to get serious about seeking Him or taking action, the devil will endeavor to use it as your executioner. Don’t let that happen. God made you a champion, and He really did not call you to frustrate you, but to fulfill you and give you the life and ministry that will truly satisfy your soul.