How to Handle Frustration and Disappointment in Life

For those of you who are new to Life Compass, I write on Spirituality, Faith and Ethics on Sundays.  Here’s why.

A friend of mine, Pat McLaughlin, recently wrote a book called Haggai and Friends, which is due to be released in the next month or so.  It’s based on the biblical account of the Hebrew prophet Haggai, who brings the people of Israel an interesting word from the Lord.

In Haggai 1:5-7 (The Message), God tells the people:

Take a good hard look at your life. Think it over. You have spent a lot of money, but you haven’t much to show for it. You keep filling your plates, but you never get filled up. You keep drinking and drinking and drinking, but you’re always thirsty. You put on layer after layer of clothes, but you can’t get warm. And the people who work for you, what are they getting out of it? Not much – a leaky, rusted-out bucket, that’s what. That’s why God-of-the-Angel-Armies said:  “Take a good, hard look at your life.  Think it over.”

Have you ever been frustrated because your life hasn’t turned out the way you’d hoped or wanted?  Like the examples given in this scripture, have you been busy doing lots of stuff, but have nothing to really show for it?

God has a word of instruction for you:  “Take a good hard look at your life.  Think it over.”

In this particular example, the people of Israel weren’t achieving the success they’d hoped for because they hadn’t done what God had expected them to do.  They were busy doing their own thing, and enjoying their own comforts of home, while God’s Temple still lay in ruins, after being utterly destroyed by the Babylonians some seventy years earlier.

It seems like the only way God could get them to focus on what was important to him was to frustrate the things that were most important to them.  He allowed frustration and pain and disappointment into their lives to cause them to look to him for a solution.

Does this still happen today?  I think so!  It has been my experience that when I allow certain areas of my life to get out of sync with what I know God wants me to do or be, I end up with feelings of frustration, disappointment, or even pain.

Whether it’s frustration in my health, relationships, work, or other life area, when things go wrong it is all too easy to blame someone else, isn’t it?  But God tells us here that we need to take a good hard look at ourselves.

What’s causing frustration, disappointment or pain in your life today?  Is it the economic downturn?  Unemployment?  Relationships with your spouse or kids?  Work?  Poor health?

When things aren’t going the way you’d hoped, or the way you know they should be, don’t blame others.  Instead, take stock and assess what’s happening in your life.  It might just be a warning from God to bring attention to a situation and get us to change course before it’s too late.

So how do we “take a good hard look at ourselves”?

  1. For me, I always take a look at my spiritual life.  Am I living up to God’s expectations in each of the areas of my life?  I’ve found that so many decisions in my life are spiritual ones.  And if I’m out of sync in this life area, nothing else seems to make sense in my life.
  2. Next, I review my goals for my life areas.  Is what I’m doing today helping me achieve my goals?  If not, then something has to change.
  3. Then I review my personal values.  Am I doing what I’m doing for the right reasons?  Do my actions measure up with what I’ve said are most important to me?

It is amazing how just a few simple questions, when answered honestly, can bring greater clarity, insight, and focus to just about any situation.

So, what about you?  Have you ever experienced this in your own life?  Please share your comments.

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    How to Handle Frustration and Disappointment in Life

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