If it could be said that God knows how to encourage me, then the negative view of that statement is true, too. Satan and his kingdom of darkness have a pretty good clue on how to discourage me. The best way to discourage me is to frustrate me. Yes, I will still pray. Yes, I will still believe in God’s goodness and grab on to what He is encouraging me in, but there is nothing so discouraging to me as frustration. It trips me up. It just does.
A couple of months ago, one of my dear friends spoke to me about this. She had one of those hard truth said-in-love moments where she acknowledged my strengths, and then reminded me that when I am frustrated, I don’t walk in grace at all. I abandon my foundation. I lose rest. I make unwise decisions. I become inconsistent (and you have to know me to know that I detest inconsistency in myself. It’s the one thing that, well, leads me down many unGodly paths). In essence, she told me that I make a mess of myself.
When she had told me that I needed to grab on to grace, I was astounded. Yep, that’s what I needed to do. Wait. What’s grace again? Oh yeah…the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.
When I’m frustrated by illness or stress, I rarely tap into God to ask Him to regenerate me. When I was younger, I would turn to something else to do this: food, TV, a good phone conversation, a nap, etc. At the ripe ole’ age of 26 though, I know better to do that. The problem is that I simply don’t do anything now. I just sit and wallow in my frustration. Try to push through it. And I fail every time.
You can’t push through frustration. You can’t even pray through frustration. All you can do is cut out time to be with God and choose to let him transform the frustration. That’s where His grace comes in: through tempering me back down. Drawing me back into His place of rest.
For me, this isn’t a conquered character change. For me, this is a process. I’m working it out. Part of how I’m working it out is by turning to what my spiritual mother has made my life verse: Isaiah 26: 3-4.
3 You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.
4 Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.
When I’m discouraged, I just keep having to turn my eyes and mind back to Him. Back to His character. Verse 4 becomes a command to me. If I am wavering; if I am inconsistent, then I better be submitting to the one that is stable forever. He is the only one that can smooth things out.
7 The path of the righteous is level;
O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth.
And why does He do this? Because He alone is the source of peace. He is the only one to calm the waves.
12 LORD, you establish peace for us;
all that we have accomplished you have done for us.