FRUSTRATION AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
By Tony Hiss
The word “frustration” comes from the Latin word “frustra”. This means in vain, brought to nought, defeated, to bring to nothing.
In our common usage today it would simply mean defeat. Defeat is something that everyone who has lived very long in this world knows something about. Every preacher who has preached very long knows what it means to be defeated. On small matters defeat is possible. In the overall plan and program of God for his work and for our individual lives however, defeat is impossible. That is of course if we love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.
II. THE BIBLE IS REPLETE WITH INSTANCES OF DEFEAT.
Joshua 7:4, “They fled before the men of Ai”. This questioned Joshua. He could not understand it. For the men of Israel he had no explanation. His question to God was, “What shall I say when Israel turns her back before the enemy”.
Judges 3:13, “Eglon king of Moab gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.”
I Samuel 4:2, “Israel was smitten before the Philistines.”
I Samuel 4:17, “And the messenger said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter among the people.”
II Samuel 1:4, “And David said unto him, how went the matter? I pray thee tell me. And he answered, that the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead.”
These are bits of history concerning defeats which fell upon Israel. Certainly all of them had their reason, Looking backward we can readily detect the reason from our advantage point of the present. However at the time they seemed bitter and incomprehensible. Just as defeat came to this nation they also come to individuals. The book of Job becomes a very precious book indeed to a minister who is walking through a deep dark valley of frustration. A companion chapter to the book of Job is the forty-fourth Psalm. Many of us have read this during the dark days of our lives. Let us reconsider it.
“But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies. Then makest us to turn back from the enemies; and they which hate us spoil for themselves. Thou hast given us like sheep appointed meat; and hast scattered us among the heathen. Thou sellest thy people for nought, and doest not increase the wealth by their price. Thy makest us a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and a derision to them that are around about us. The makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people. Thy confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face has covered me, for the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger. All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant. Our heart is not turned, neither have our steps declined from thy ways; though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death. If we had forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to strange Gods; shall not God search this out? For he knoweth the secrets of the heart. Ye, for thy sake are we killed all of the day long;
we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Awake, why sleepest thou oh Lord? Arise, cast us not off forever. Wherefore didest hideth thou thy face and forgettest our affliction and our oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly cleaveth unto the earth. Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies sake.”
III. MOST EVERY PERSON WHO HAS ACCOMPLISHED ANYTHING IN THIS WORLD HAS KNOWN FRUSTRATION.
It is impossible to find one successful business man or politician who has not at one time known absolute defeat. It is said that every defeat is handled properly carries with it the equivalence of success. It is stated by wise men that success is impossible without some measure of frustration and defeat. There must be a proper balance to life. No life can know true balance without some degree of sorrow.
I can distinctly remember more than once in my own life when I have been so crushed by seeming impossibilities that I found it impossible to stand on my feet. On two particular instances I can remember crawling around on my knees and bellowing out my sorrows much as a distraught animal would. It seems that I had been pressed completely out of human hope.
There also have been nights in which I have tossed upon the bed sleepless. The sweetest thought that would come to me in one of these few occasions was the contemplation of death. I imagined how precious it would be if I could know that I would never have to face another day. Had I known that death would come to my bed that night I would have been happy.
I remember one particular crushing disappointment in my life that took me three years to recover from. It was an apparent failure in the pastorate of a particular church. I had done my very best. I had almost broken my wife’s health in my drive to get the work of God done. Finally after my sincerest and most dedicated efforts I had to admit failure. I was literally starved out of that pastorate. When I left that city I never intended to pastor another church again. I carried the scars of that frustrated effort for three years. From these particular experiences however there in time came the following observation.
IV. MOST OF THE DEFEATS THAT COME TO US ARE PARTICULAR DEFEATS AND NOT GENERAL DEFEATS.
Problems that we experience are not blanket things that cover our entire existence. They usually have to do with one segment of our life. There are vast areas of our existence which are all together untouched or unaffected by our problems. I discovered that in spite of oppression there were many things that remained in tact which were all together unaffected by the problem of that hour.
1. I still had my faith. I believed that God was good. David said, “I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of God in the land of the living.”
It is possible for a person to be severely shaken yet at the same time not lose their faith. Jesus told Peter, “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail thee not”. Peter’s faith did not fail him.
He did stumble and stagger, but deep inside he still believed in Jesus Christ.
2. I still had my family with their love and trust kept in tact. My wife believed in me. She felt that I was honest, capable, and that I was doing my best. If a man has his home environment secure there is almost no end of stress and conflict he can meet outside the home.
3. I still had my health. This is worth more than much money. If a man has his health he can make money. If a man has his health he can discharge his ministry. If a man has his health he can cultivate a healthy mental attitude and be able to cope with the necessities of life.
4. I still had the respect of my ministering brothers. This itself is a great asset. Herein lies a great source of strength. To be able to move among fellow ministers and sense that they trust you, and
have confidence that you are able to handle the problem which you may have at hand. This indeed is a blessed thing.
Thus we can see that most of the problems which face us only have to do with a particular area of time and operation. There are vast outlays of assets pertaining to our personal life and
our ministries which is absolutely untainted by the shadow which may seem to us so dark and gloomy at the time.
There is a little island off the coast of British Columbia inhabited by a bird called “tuffted puffin”. This bird seems hardy enough. Its appearance is good. However, it can only live in that particular spot. If they are moved off of that Island they die. They have no resistance. They cannot over come frustration. They are so fragile that they cannot endure stress.
It is possible for a minister to become soft and flabby inside where the real iron should be. This comes about because of too many compliments which are not balanced out with sizeable applications of salt. We take the kind words of people at face value. We are sometimes not tough on ourselves. We do not discipline our ego. Thus it grows up to be quite a fat spoil
demanding part of ourself.
Sometimes a pastor comes into a church charge where he finds people quite adept at playing little power games. They know how to get under a preachers skin. They have become very proficient at stabbing people in the back, etc. Some of this is done with a very light touch, and with just enough sarcasm to spoil a nights rest. The wise preacher however refuses to be a “tuffted puffin”. He ignores some things he sees. He doesn’t hear some things that are said. He has what Spurgeon once described as a “blind eye and a deaf ear”. Every preacher needs one of these. He should be able to see over the heads of some.
He looks beyond the problem to the goal in the future. So he keeps smiling, loving, shaking hands, preaching positive, and believing in God. He is like Nehemiah who refuses the invitation
of Sanballat to come down to the plains of Ono. He simply states as Nehemiah did, “I am doing a great work and I can not come down”. He escapes much frustration by refusing to put himself on the level with it,
V. THE MATURE MINISTER LEARNS AND PROFITS FROM SEEMING DEFEATS
A. He learns that things are not as bad as they seem to be. He comes to the place that he is able to equate the severity of the blow with his overall spiritual standing. He is able to understand the depth of his feeling if he recognizes the fact that he is physically tired. If he has not been feeling up to par in his overall physical health he knows that this is a factor in the way he reacts. The mood he happens to be in at the time he receives additional discouragement is also a factor. Thus the wise man controls his reaction and gives the matter proper time to pass through the process of proper assessment.
The wise preacher learns to be realistic. He comes to recognize in time that not everyone will live for God no matter how much personal attention is given to them. After a while he is able to quickly and wisely assess the characteristic of the individual at hand. Jesus relieved us of much worry and guilt feelings by giving the parable of the soils. The inference of these parables are that there are some soils and some conditions of soil which precludes any hope for a productive harvest out of some individuals. Thus the preacher does not allow apparent failure in pastoring some individuals to be counted as a hopeless defeat. He knows that not even the apostle Paul could have succeeded there.
B. The wise preacher also comes to believe in the law of sowing and reaping. He knows that if he sows enough seed in the right kind of attitude that he will in time reap a harvest. It is said if an insurance salesman will knock on enough doors he will sell well. What we do should be done gladly and as unto the Lord. We should sow with an open abundant hand. We cannot look on personal return and altogether on the growth of our own local assembly. This would have a selfish content. In time a preacher comes to understand that he in himself cannot build a church. All that he is expected to do is to be faithful. He believes that the preaching of the word and a ministering of loving hands will in time bring a harvest. He knows that, “unless the Lord build a house they labor in vain that build it”.
D. Thus the preacher is able to see that problems come on purpose.
1. They may be the result of our success. Envy may have been stirred up because of a mans personal progress. Or a building program may have become a necessity at a low monetary point simply because of numerical growth. Many problems are the result of our success.
2. Problems sometimes come as a result of our mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes. Corporations allow their executives a certain amount of mistakes. The executive knows that he is allowed so many mistakes. Thus he is released to an attitude of aggressiveness and boldness.
He is not bound by fear or the problem of being over cautious.
3. Problems come often as opportunities in disguise.
If they can be readily solved in a forthright expert way it places the preacher on top of the situation.
It gives credits and credit to his ministry and leadership ability. It affords an opportunity for him to sharpen his own experience. Some problems that present themselves have within them the possibility of opening the door to the solving of other problems.
4. Problems are given us by God for our personal development. We are told, “the trying of our faith is more precious than gold”. God could have given us a world already prepared. He could have given us a world with everything in it developed. But instead we have inherited an environment where the oil was yet to be discovered. The diamonds had to be dug. The forest had to be cut. The fields had to be plowed. God always knows what is best for us. Some of the greatest blessings of life come to us robed as our greatest problems.
Therefore the growing and maturing preacher in time realizes that he has been blessed. He knows that God is with him. He knows also that the Lord has a purpose for his life. Since this is so he well knows that the present circumstance will pass. Deep within himself he is assured that a better day will come with its sunshine and its flowers.
VII. SOME PROBLEMS ARE NOT ACTUAL BUT ARE THE PRODUCTS OF OUR MINDS.
Machinery that is controlled by electronic devices sometimes reacts to the wrong impulse. Automatic garage doors have been known to raise or lower themselves when they are acted upon by other electronic influences than the switch which is supposed to activate them. Oil field equipment controlled by electronics has been turned on because a passing motorist happened to whistle into his C.B. radio. The particular frequency which he generated set in motion the machinery nearby.
The intricate mechanism of our psychic nature sometimes also is triggered off by the wrong motivation, A. Negative personality complexes cause us to get the wrong reading from the words or activities of people we meet.
We tend to catch undue importance to what is said or not said. D. We are prone to transpose the rate or bitterness which we may have experienced in one situation to other situations which follow us in life. The person who may be on the receiving end of our reaction may be altogether undeserving of our attitude. Because we have a memory bank which contains portions of hateful experiences we are very complex in our judgment and reaction to various circumstances. We become prejudice and opinionated because of our experience in times past. Thus we color a present situation with the same emotional content we experienced perhaps years ago at another time.
C. Envy causes us to feel defeated sometimes when this is not true at all. We should never allow success to be dependent upon someone else. Success is altogether up to each of us individually. There are times that two men who are good friends fish together. It is not unusual for one of the men to come home discouraged and frustrated. His discouragement and frustration was not because of any particular problem they had on the trip. The boat seemed to perform well. The motor perhaps did not break down. They did not run out of gas. They had plenty to eat. And besides all of these things no doubt he caught quite a few fish. Then why would he be disappointed concerning the trip? There is a good chance that his friend caught more fish than he did. If he had fished alone he would have been very happy. But since he measured success by his friend he was very frustrated. His sense of success depended on his friends failure. Since his friend did not fail he judged that he himself had failed. The scripture tells us that, “measuring themselves by themselves they do error”.
D. Frustration comes to us when we feel that other peoples activities are directed against us personally.
This is often not the case at all. Everyone has a right to react compatibly with his personality. Providing of course that this is not unduly offensive to his fellow man. It is said that by the time a child reaches the age of six he has already established power patterns in his life. He has devised ways of controlling situations and other people. This does not mean that he is inherently wicked. The nature of life forces all of us to in some sense become a manager in our right. This is simply our way of coping with circumstances and with life in general.
I pastored a man one time who had been successful in labor union work. The power patterns he had learned in this field of activity he brought with him into his church relationships. I don’t think that he himself realized that he was using his union tactics. This included a certain amount of talk against the pastor. This did not mean that deep within his heart he did not love me. How do I know this? Because when I was no longer his pastor our relations were very compatible. When I was his pastor I simply unconsciously represented management to him. Under that arrangement he could not completely relate to me as an individual.
In some sense every person that a preacher pastors is a manager in his own right, having his own established patterns of power play. Some of these are deeply ingrained and are very strongly applied. Under such circumstance the maturity of the leader determines whether there will be trouble or not.
I have often thought of the men who David lead. They were of adverse personality. Many of them were scoundrels. All of them seemed to have some type of personal problem or hang-up. Yet David was able to take these men and work with them.
I once knew a very fine Christian man who had under him five hundred other men. He worked with these men every day. In several churches where this man worshiped there were problems
between this man and the pastor. Yet I cannot believe that this precious Christian really wanted to cause trouble. Many times the reaction of the pastor toward particular circumstance is the
deciding factor whether there is frustration or not.
E. We should take a positive and realistic look at what we consider is a failure.
We should hold the thought that no failure is permanent but that it is only a temporary setback in a successful life. That here is an incident that can be woven into the tapestry of creative achievement. It is strictly temporary. It can be defined simply as the wrong way to do a certain thing. Therefore it has its advantageous elements which instructs us how to better do something else. When you know how something should be done you are in a better position to learn how it should be done. One thing we should never do and that is to accept failure. Instead we should accept only success. What we mean is to keep the failure content out of our thoughts. We have simply learned a better way to do something.
Of course we meet profit by these lessons. No success can ever be attained in this life without diligence. This means work and more work. One of the greatest abilities a man could possess is the ability to do the laborious tasks and to keep on doing them. We will be encouraged in our work if we know clearly where we want to go. No one can get where he wants to go unless he knows where he wants to go, or what he wants to do.
VIII. FIVE STREAMS OF FRUSTRATION
There is a reason for most everything. There are components of frustration. The first one we wish to consider here is backwash from decisions already made.
Backwash is a normal thing. This is a part of a meaningful learning process. It is a natural thing for a person to reflect back on a decision which they have just made. In the average persons mind that decision is weighed all over again. It is reevaluated. This is a good thing. It feeds it into the memory bank of our subconscious mind. It becomes a storehouse and a base to draw from in the making of future decisions.
What if in our analysis we discover we have made the wrong decision? If it is a drastic far reaching decision and can be reversed it should be done so. We should face the music honestly and courageously. We should admit our wrong and ask for a reversal. If circumstance cannot be reversed we just simply have to live with it. Do not feel that the end of the world has come. This will not be the last mistake you will make. Perhaps five or ten years ago you made another decision which may have been wrong. It has not sunk your boat however. You are still alive, preaching, and going on with God. This present decision will not be catastrophic. The amount of harm it engenders in your life largely will be according to your attitude. If you accept it as a major defeat it will be so. If on the other hand you accept it as a lesson learned and bravely face up to the future and go from there it will not be a deciding factor. What if you make a right decision? Much time has been
lost by people unduly going back over the mechanics of a decision when there is no need. There is also a waste of time in basking to an undue degree in the success of a right decision. If the decision has been good thank God for it. Turn your creative mind and productivity toward exploiting it to the fullest degree. There is only so much congratulations that is due. Accept it and
get on with the job at hand.
B. THE FRUSTRATIONS OF DECISION MAKING
Decision making is a lonely experience. It can be upsetting. We should come to feel however that with the help of God we can overcome and handle anything that upsets us. An acknowledged fact is that none of us in the journey through life, will be entirely free from difficulties.
The first point in controlling an upsetting circumstance is our state of mind. We cannot come readily to grips with a problem as long as we are mentally upset. Socrates once said, “Whom do I call educated? Those who meet all occasions manfully and act in accordance with intelligent thinking.” Our problem is when difficulties strike we tend to react emotionally rather than mentally. This is a great error, for the human mind cannot function effectively when it is distraught. Only when it is calm, cool and settled will it be able to produce the insights, understanding, and dispassionate concepts that lead to a proper solution.
I once read of two men who were wiped out financially during the depression of the 1930’s. When they ate breakfast together on a particular morning they were well to do successful businessmen. Before twelve o’clock that night they were paupers.
One of the men reacted emotionally. He flung himself from out of the top of a tall office building. He viewed the situation as being hopeless.
The other man was discouraged and upset also, but he said, “Actually as a person I am no different tonight than I was this morning. I am the same man; I have the same brain; I have the same spirit; I have the same faith. The only thing I don’t have is the same amount of money. But what I did once I can, with the help of God do again.” So he picked up what ever jobs he could find and after some years of diligent work he regained his business stature. Both of these men bad the same upsetting situation. One of the men destroyed himself. The other calmed himself and handled himself creatively.
C. HABITUAL WORRY
1. We need to forget those things of the past which we cannot help. All of us at sometime in life suffer defeat and either because of our own poor judgement or other circumstance we experience failure. Richard Nixon is a man like many others who have made mistakes. Some of these we cannot in any way justify. However there is a particular area of his life which no one can help but admire. It was after a marginal defeat in his race for the Presidency of the United States. This defeat was so narrow that even people today question whether it was an actuality or not. After not gaining the Presidency of the United States he ran for the Governorship of his home state of California.
It seemed most certain that a man of such high personal standing and consideration would win the gubernatorial race. However he was soundly defeated in this. It seemed that he was through
forever in the world of politics. He left California for a vacation in the Bahamas a very distraught and bitter man. For several weeks he walked the beaches alone, thinking, praying, and later talking to people who were his friends. When he left the Bahamas he put the past behind him. He went forthrightly and energetically to work practicing law. He made a great success. He made quite a bit of money. In time he regained his popularity and became the President of the United States. This he could never have done unless he had forgotten the past. Paul stated, “Forgetting those things which are behind I press forward to the prize for the mark of the high calling of God which is in Christ Jesus”. We should never worry over the things of the past which we cannot help.
All of us have normal frustrations. This we cannot escape. But many carry around approximately fifty pounds of extra mental and spiritual weight. What comprises this extra load that people carry?
1. Old heartaches
2. Old tragedies
3. Old guilts
4. Old misfortunes
5. Old loneliness
I read recently of a very brilliant energetic vivacious man of eighty years old. He seemed to cheer everyone he met. What type work did he do? On his own he simply spent his time working with people in rest homes, how was he able to retain his vivaciousness in such a depressing climate? His answer was simple, “I refuse to live in the past.”
Worry is the greatest waste of human energy. It has been computed that forty percent of your worries concern the past, fifty percent are related to the future, and ten percent about present problems. Ninety-two percent of most worries never happen. Surely you can handle the remaining eight percent.
Worry is a habit. As such it has been developed over a long period of time. Any habit that can be formed can also he broken. The mind can be emptied of anything. So if you have filled your mind with worry thoughts start now to empty those thoughts out of it. The best way to empty the mind is to fill it with something else. It should be filled with strong, healthy, positive thoughts. Strange as it may seem there is usually a spot where most of us usually do most of our worry. For some it is behind the wheel of a car. For others it is a certain chair in the house. For others it is the bed. We have worried so much in that particular spot that we are conditioned to automatically begin worrying when we occupy it. Perhaps it would be good to avoid that place. Maybe we should take a positive position by laying our hands upon that particular spot and declaring under God that we are going to change our thought patterns. We should simply state, “I am not a worrier, I am a right thinking creative individual who has a valuable life. I am a son of God, washed in his blood and called to a great life.” We should further remind ourselves” “God is with me now. God is always
with me. God will never leave me. I am never alone. His presence protects me.”
We can take care of many of our worries by better planning. Every person every six months should write themselves out a live plan statement. I have given an outline of such a statement in another one of my writings. A good positive plan for the future removes much of the fear. You are capable under God of planning your future. You are born with a body, a mind and a set of emotions. They are your vital equipment. Your body is entirely secondary. Use your mind and your judgement when you make your plans. Don’t worry about wrong decisions. You have made some. You will make some more. None of them have wrecked you.
Many people become frustrated when they attempt to do too many things at once. Much of this is because of ill planning. A well planned time schedule will go a long way toward creating a peaceful life. None of us can do all of the things we would like to do. So we must determine priorities. And then we must block out the things that are impossible for us to get to.
We should also be objective in solving the problems at hand. A basic premise for solving a problem is to remain emotionally calm. Up-tightness can block off creative thought flow. We should attempt to reduce the stress and tension elements. The mind can only operate efficiently when the emotions are under control.
In solving a problem it is very advantageous sometimes to get away from the location of the problem. Strange as it may seem when we are out of town we can be more objective in our problem solving. We can get a broader over view of the entire situation.
I have found it extremely profitable to lay out all the component parts of a given problem on paper. This helps us to bring then into an orderly coherence. We are able to clarify our thinking better. After we have written them down we can rewrite them into a systematic order.
Some problems do not break open to our probing easily. We should never try to force a problem. If we do not get the answer right away we should keep our minds relaxed and allow the solution to open up naturally and clearly at its own given time. During this time the problem should be subjected to intensive prayer. When we go to bed at night we should assign our mind the task of thinking upon it. Our brains worn anyway at night. If we do not assign something to them they entertain themselves through dreams. God can step into our thoughts while we sleep, giving us direction. Sometimes this is in an actual conscious way. At other times it is simply that we become aware of a given course that we are to take. But we know that God directed us. Psalms 73 contains a precious assurance; “Thou shalt guide me with thy council.”
Sometimes God guides us through our human intuition. We come to feel, to have a strong impression that a certain course is the one to take. If we have been conditioned by prayer we can actually come to the place where we think Gods thoughts about the problem. This will happen if we let the problem float free in our minds, while we ourselves remain in a relaxed, confident attitude. God can use our mind to produce the answer when it is needed. God can use our unhurried mental activity, he can use what seems to be the natural method of insight to bring the right solution to our conscious thinking.
E. NO RELEASE
One of the sources of great frustration is the fact that some people never completely release themselves from their problems. John Foster Dulles was a great example of a man able to completely release himself. He instituted the pattern of statesmanship known as, “brinkmanship”. Up to this time Communism had been gobbling up one piece of territory after another. Mr. Dulles felt that it was time to draw a line. This he did. On several occasions it brought this nation to the brink of war. However Mr. Dulles had strong reason to believe that Communist Russia did not want war. Some of his most effective diplomacy was conducted however on “the brink”. Needless to say this was wearing on both the nerves of the nation and also himself.
Someone asked him one day how he could live under such strain. His reply simply was, “Sometimes by the time I leave the office and get out of the hot tub of water in my home where I have relaxed for thirty minutes, I have put away all the problems of strategy in order to avoid unbearable frustration a person needs to learn the secret of being able to put some things away.
Each day is divided into periods of eight hours. There are three of these eight hour periods. There are certain things that are to be done in each of these eight hour sections. When we allow each of these sections to bleed over unduly into the other we will pay for it in some way. Eight hours is for work. Eight hours is to be designated for sleep. Then there are eight additional hours that are to be delegated more or less for our personal use. Obviously a ministers life cannot be in real clear cut sections. I only attempt to make a point here that there must be some time in the day where we put away our problems.
There were times when I was director in our missions that the load was heavy and the stress could have easily taken its toll. Hanging in my office was a set of old fashioned cow bells.
It may seem strange or foolish but their sound bore a distinct relationship to tranquil situations of my boyhood. By gently tinkling them, their sound carried me back in memory and reflection to quiet pastoral scenes. Thus in a moments time I was reverted back to the quiet tranquility of the country I lived in long ago. This was a quick way to take a short vacation.
In order to release ourselves we can take a minute or so to visualize the most peaceful and beautiful place you have ever been in your life. You can return to it by the magic of visualization and feel once more the healing effect it had upon you, what a privilege to take a memory trip to some beautiful valley or seashore or to walk through a flower strewn meadow down the path of memory. While we are in the process of this we can let such words as, “tranquility, serenity, quietness, and restfulness flow through our mind. We can also in such an attitude quote familiar scriptures such as, “Thy wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” “Peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Things that I am mentioning here may seem juvenile and simple. However they are things I know will work. We’re either going to be frustrated or be able to live a peaceable life, clear minded, warm hearted, and able to take care of our problems. Which do you choose?
F. NO RELAXATION
There are some people who never completely relax even while they sleep. They have a habit of taking their troubles to bed with them.
1. Their wives should not disclose to them the church problems late in the day. By all means church troubles should not be discussed prior to going to bed. If the wife knows of any particular problem it should be shared with the husband in the morning. Then he has a chance to get used to it before night comes. The fact that it is too late to do anything about the problem when he
hears about it contributes to his frustration at night.
It hits him with its absolute newness at a time when he should be winding down and getting ready for rest. However the pattern of life he lives calls upon him to begin immediately to ponder some possible solution. In the process his body responds by dumping enough adrenaline into his system to perk up his thoughts to a good productive level. Thus sleep goes away from him. This is not the correct way to live.
2. In order for the preacher not to maul over what he must do the next day he should write it all down before retiring. Getting it on paper gets it out of your head.
3. Light reading is a good thing just before going to sleep. Some men make the mistake of reading material which is either heavy or stimulating. It is much better to save the newspaper until bedtime. About ten minutes of leafing through its pages many times is enough to help wind a person down and enable him to drop right off to sleep.
IX. WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED WE CAN UNLEARN.
Immediately after World War II we were introduced to the horrible process of “brainwashing”. Communism proved that it was actually possible to take certain ideologies out of peoples heads and put others in. This they were able to do even against the persons will. If this can be done without a persons actual consent surely with God on our side and with our consent we can change our patterns of thought.
I once read the true account of a dog which was changed from hating colored people to hating white people. The change however was tremendously frustrating to him. But he was changed. If an animal can be changed we can change also. We can put worry and frustration away. We can use our defeats to be object lessons of education. We can work with the tremendous assurance that there is no such thing as absolute defeat for the child of God. “All things work together for the good to them who love the Lord for them who are called according to His purpose.”
X. THERE IS NOT A PROBLEM IN THE UNIVERSE THAT CANNOT BE
Read the history of one hundred years ago. Most all the problems of that era have been solved.
Every problem is the result of an idea. Every solution is the result of an idea.
You magnify and give power to problems by dwelling on them. If we hang loose and continually remind ourselves, “There is an answer. In my mind there is a solution even now. God will help reveal that solution to me. There is no such thing as an unsolvable problem.”
No one age is more complicated than another age. God has made man strong, resolute, and tough. He is able to adapt himself to any climate, latitude or longitude. He is the only animal living that has problems with over populations. Other species of animal life one by one become extinct. But in spite of wars, sickness, natural catastrophes, etc. there are more people living today than ever before. God conditioned you to be able to survive no matter what confronts you.
Traveling through Europe some months ago I noted the familiar cities and countries of history. I could remember certain great battles being fought in certain locations. I thought of the many wars that had swept across the face of that populous country. I thought of the rise and fall of the economic level there. Yet in spite of all of these diversities I looked at a well populated land. I saw beautiful cities and well kept farms. I saw school children happily on their way to and from school. I saw the stream of life flowing on strong and positive. This gave me strong assurance that no matter what comes or goes that God has so equipped us that we could survive and cope with our problems.
What does the Bible say? “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” I Cor. 10:13.