How to Handle Frustration

July 11th, 2013

Strive first for the kingdom of God.
Matthew 6:33 NRSV

We are so easily frustrated by the little things of life—losing the car keys, being late for an appointment, forgetting to turn off the coffee. That’s why we need the big things to put the little things in perspective. “Strive first for the kingdom of God,” Jesus said, “and all these things will be given to you as well”—food, drink, clothes, health.

Big-picture people can handle the little frustrations, whereas little-picture people get done in by them. “The great use of life,” William James said, “is to spend it for what outlasts it.” That’s the kind of big-picture idea that can put losing the car keys in perspective. What are we spending our lives on? Will it outlast us?

Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, while in a Nazi concentration camp, discovered that the people who survived were often those who were attached to something bigger than they were—anything from love of their families to helping other inmates.

There are no calls in the Bible to little things, only to big things. “Lead my people out of Egypt.” “Form a new nation.” “Seek justice.” “Help the widow and the orphan.” “Take up your cross.” “Follow me.” “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,” Paul said (Acts 26:19). He could say that because with the call came the ability to obey it. “To this day,” he said, “I have had the help that comes from God” (Acts 26:22).

Sometimes we don’t have enough faith that we will get this kind of help. We can read the Bible and hear the call, but we fail to obey the call because of our timidity. We get caught up in the little things, as Martha, when only “one thing is needful,” as Jesus says (Luke 10:42). Preparing her meal at that point was not as important as listening to him.

Keeping our eyes fixed on the big things of life requires discernment. Reading Bible stories about calls is clearly “the help that comes from God,” namely, grace. How do we know it’s grace? Because without grace’s help, we wouldn’t be reading the Bible.

Such stories show us how big-picture people can handle the little things of life. As the philosopher Nietzsche once observed, “Those who have a Why to live can bear with almost any How.”


Help me “strive first for the kingdom” and have a big-picture view. Amen.

excerpt from: Practical Grace: How to Find God in the Everyday by Robert K. Hudnut. Copyright©2013 by Abingdon Press. Used with permission.

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