Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:16 ESV
As a student teacher in the 1970’s I was surprised to learn that one of my favourite books as a child (Tootle – 1945 by Gertrude Crampton – as of 2001 the third best-selling hardcover children’s book in English) was controversial (because of its message that we ‘should stay on the rails, no matter what’). But the red flags that confronted the little engine whenever he left the tracks to play in the meadows along the way suggest a positive aspect of frustration that as Christians we may be thankful to our loving heavenly Father for. This final brief post on the theme of frustration also comes from Jerry Bridges.
Jerry Bridges wrote: “This is a tremendously encouraging and comforting thought. So when something happens that tends to frustrate me, I actually quote Psalm 139:16 to myself and then say to God, ‘This circumstance is part of Your plan for my life today. Help me to respond in faith and in a God-honouring way to Your providential will. And then please give me wisdom to know how to address the situation that that tends to cause the frustration.’
Note what resources I have brought to bear on the circumstance that tends to frustrate me: specific applicable Scripture and dependence on the Holy Spirit expressed through prayer to enable me to respond in a godly manner. And then I pray for practical wisdom to know how to deal with the situation. After all, in my illustration about the computer printer, the important document does eventually need to be printed.
It is also beneficial to ask God if there is something I need to be attentive to. Sometimes God uses events that tempt us toward frustration to get our attention, or even to push us further in an area we need to grow in. In any case, there are no events in our lives that do not ultimately come to us from the invisible hand of God, even though they come through some visible cause.”
From Jerry Bridges in Respectable Sins.