As I wrap up my series on breaking the cycle of frustration, I want to hit at the heart of the deeper struggles that cause us to become frustrated. The enemy is very capable of using minor things to distract us and keep us in the cycle of grumpiness. What a tragedy if we waste our energy each day fretting over petty annoyances! There are, however, deeper, more significant circumstances that can plague us if we aren’t intentional.
Paul’s call to take our thoughts captive in 2 Corinthians 10:5 is very specific.
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…
Did you notice which thoughts this truth applies to? Every thought. Be careful not to think that somehow your circumstance is so extreme you are exempt from Paul’s instructions. Remember… Paul was not a cream puff. He instructs us having personally experienced almost every form of hardship and persecution.
If this sinful world has struck a severe blow to you through the loss of a loved one, a frightening diagnosis, a painful divorce, betrayal, or a wayward child, please know that God’s heart breaks with yours. God hates sin and sickness so much that He gave up His only child to rectify the pain.
There are times when our circumstances seem paralyzing. Yet we have a choice to engage in battle or to be taken captive by the enemy. We can take our thoughts captive or we can have our emotions locked away in their own captivity.
There are many things outside of our control, but no one can control our minds but us. No matter what you’ve lost, I encourage you to not give your thought life over to the negativity and hopelessness that the enemy would prefer. As a matter of fact, a little righteous anger is appropriate here. In a severe battle, here are some ways to guard yourself:
1. Determine what you can impact.
As simple as this is, defining what you can influence and what’s outside your control is critical. When a thought comes over an area you can’t control, then you must…
2. Cling to the character of God.
There are many times when we can’t make something better or understand why something’s happening. It’s almost like we need to back up from the specific circumstance and focus on what we know is true about God. Remember:
Only God knows what’s best.
Only God wants what’s best.
Only God can give what’s best.
3. Shrink your view.
Often we look too far down the road when crisis occurs. We begin to borrow trouble and assume the worst about days, weeks, and months down the road. You may need to focus on this very day, or even this hour. Matthew 6:34 reminds us:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
4. Borrow some faith.
There are times when we get such a blow that it’s hard to catch our breath. This is when we must lean on other believers. We’re not called to walk alone as Christians. This is not the time to keep your burden to yourself. There is literally not one circumstance where you’re the first to walk through it. Others have come through that same hardship. Enlist a friend to pray for you. Find a prayer warrior and ask them to pray with you. When you struggle to know what to pray, remember that Jesus Himself intercedes on our behalf.
I pray that our times in the valley are limited. Praise God that there will be a day when every pain is healed. In the meantime, may we take every thought captive and stand firm through the storms.