Before reading: Have you read part I? If not, check it out here!
Often times in our culture, especially for my college-aged counterparts, our frustrational sins are overlooked because they are so prevalent. However, like the majority of ideals in modern culture, these thoughts are misguided.
Often times we see these emotions just for what they are on the surface. But in this, we are wrong. It goes so much deeper. It’s at the root of these emotions wherein lies the issue of sin. We are a broken and fallen people in a broken and fallen world. Thus, we are inherently born into sin, including the sin of our frustrations. We discussed in Part I, and now understand that, as Christians, we must acknowledge these as sin in our lives. We are sold on the idea that living in our frustrations is living in sin and we understand the roots of our sin. But we still are unable to process them in a way that is productive or conclusive.
When we seek to know the root we subsequently seek to understand it. In the understanding of our sin we can seek the Lord in the forgiveness that He promises (Ephesians 1:7). This is why it is important to understand the sin at its root. We can now delve into what it looks like to actually overcome the roots of our frustration.
This post can be a little wordy so feel free to skip to the frustration that you so choose. (But be sure to read the paragraph at the very end).
Roots of anger: Guilt, past hurt, intolerance, and unachieved goals.
–Guilt: Just by simply reading the word “guilt” a flood of memories rush into your thoughts. “I did ‘this’ and I said ‘that’.” When you’re reminded of this guilt, your chest tightens and your blood pressure rises. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Friend, rest in the gracious forgiveness of God! You don’t have to hold on to your guilt, Jesus freed you from that burden! Psalm 55:22 says it plain and simple: cast all of your guilt on the Lord. And even more uplifting than that, 1 John promises that God will cleanse us from all unrighteousness, including the guilt you’ve been carrying.
-Someone has hurt you. It hurts deeply, in the center of your being. Nothing they, or anyone else, say or do will mend what they’ve shattered in your heart. My friend, I couldn’t possibly know the pain you’ve been through… But the Lord does. He hurts with you and He hurts for you. I don’t want this to be cliché, but you need to know. As a Believer, you are called to forgive others as Christ has forgiven you. When you can truly forgive them, then you will no longer be angry.
–Intolerance: You’re sitting in the library writing a paper in silence when homeboy comes in and sits behind you. He begins loudly ruffling papers, jamming to music that you can hear out of his headphones, and smacking his Twizzlers, which he is eating way too aggressively. And you get so upset at this. You have become intolerant of others. Intolerance is broken by patience and love towards others. When you truly learn to love him as a brother, you will have achieved patience and tolerance and you will no longer be angry in this way.
–Unachieved Goals: You have a goal you didn’t achieve. You failed… And man, that lights you up. You didn’t win player of the week, you didn’t get the promotion, you didn’t get the lead role, you failed the Physics test. Let’s pause right now. Why did you want any of those things in the first place? If it’s a selfish and prideful desire, read on to jealousy. If your anger stems from feelings of worthlessness because you needed the job promotion to make money or the grade to get into grad school then read on to anxiety and fear.
The roots of jealousy: Entitlement, selfishness, and pride.
–Entitlement: Ah yes. Entitlement. The idea that you deserve something. The thought that the world owes you something. “I deserve ____ over ____ because ____.” Fill in the blanks. You may believe that you deserve that promotion over Cynthia because you’ve been there longer. And maybe you’re right about that. But that’s for neither you nor I to decide. We can only conquer the sin of entitlement when we realize that nothing on earth is ours. We don’t deserve anything because we haven’t done anything. 1st Corinthians makes it clear that we don’t own what we have. Everything is given to us by God- our knowledge, our talents. You did not get to your job of your own accord, so you do not deserve that promotion. If it’s the Lord’s will, you will have it and if it’s not His will- be content in what He has for you, because that promotion (or role or position or whatever) is not it.
–Selfishness: It happens to all of us. I want that. I want him/her. Coveting is so important and detrimental to our hearts that it’s covered in the 10 commandments. But how do we overcome it? We become content with what the Lord has given us. I can’t tell you what He’s given you, but I encourage you to think about what you have. If it helps, make a list of everything the Lord has given you and take a moment out of this day to thank Him. When you are truly thankful for his provisions in your life, you will no longer selfishly covet.
–Pride: There are so many avenues for pride to take root in. It could be your grade point average, your sports accolades, your arts awards, your performance achievements, or something entirely different. You may feel that the things you have done to receive your role or accolade is entirely of your doing. I know that you have worked so very hard to receive the awards and accolades that you have, but again, the Bible makes it very clear that nothing you have is yours or of your own doing. Every good thing is from the Lord. When you can be thankful for the gifts the Lord has given you and submit yourself to using them to glorify Him, you will no longer be full of pride. So humble yourself, in prayer in submission, and the Lord will lift you up.
Root of anxiety and fear: disbelief and distrust
-Disbelief: There are some moments and situations in life that seem impossible. We’ve been told our whole lives that God is “bigger than the boogie man,” (sorry that just came out) but we don’t really believe that- or maybe we just forget. But friend, you serve a God who is capable of healing stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He is capable of getting you into med school, He is capable of fulfilling your financial needs. He is capable. The God that created the universe created you. The God that created you is going to use you how he sees fit. So believe that His plan is good and whatever you’re dealing with is good and full of kingdom-purpose. When you truly make this known in your heart- you will not be anxious or afraid.
–Distrust: Life is hard. (That officially stands as the most understated phrase in this entire thing.) It’s so hard to trust in the Lord when you lose a job, when your loved one gets sick, when you suck at school, when someone dies, when ____. But let me encourage you in saying that God has your back. He already knows the plans for your life and He has already laid the path. The only way you can put your full trust in God’s perfect plan is by realizing that you have no control. Things are going to happen- that’s life. When you understand that God’s control is not inhibited by the earthly things like ours is, and when you forfeit your hold on your life and submit it to God- you will have trust in Him. When you trust God with all of your heart and don’t rely on your own control, only then will you be free of the hold of anxiousness and fear.
Root of depression: discontentment, insecurity
-Discontentment: You spend your Friday nights sitting alone in your room and watching everyone else’s lively Snapchat stories. You don’t have friends like everyone else, you don’t have fun like everyone else. Life is hard and boring and unfair and you are discontent in all of it. It is entirely possible to turn away from this heart of discontentment. Find joy in the Lord and He promises to give you what you desire (if what you desire is in line with what He desires, of course). Let God’s love be enough and then you will find contentment in Him.
-Insecurity: In the world we live in, it is so difficult to be secure. In a place where friendships and fashion and jobs and family is so fluidly changing, it’s hard to know where we can be found. Will this friend still like me tomorrow? Will this outfit still be cute next month? Will I have this job next year? Will my mom get remarried before I leave for college? In this fluidity I know how hard it is to find security. If there is consistency in nothing else there is consistency in this: people will fail you, your job will fail you, and your family will fail you. The only place where you can find security is in Christ. In a world where it is hard to be loved and it is hard to have security in anything- have security in God’s love. His love promises to never fail you. When you can have security in God’s unfailing love for you- you will realize that you don’t need security in anyone or anything else. And then you will not be rooted in depression.
This battle you are fighting within yourself is not a worldly battle. The battle you are fighting is of the spirit. You cannot fight this battle with earthly weapons- you will fail. Fight this battle with the word of God, which is sharper than any sword. Fight the enemy with prayer and with scripture. When you pray- pray specifically and pray without doubt in your heart and the Lord will be faithful to answer (maybe not in the way you think).
Let me leave you with this Psalm:
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”
*I should be sensitive and careful when referring to anxiety and depression as they are very real psychological disorders and I do not mean to degrade or make light of them in any way. However, the ways I am referring to them is not the diagnosed disorder, simply synonymous adjectives of “desolation” for depression and “apprehension” for anxiety.