We don't have to be miserable, frustrated and unhappy in difficult places. If you and I have been in the world very long, we've learned there are very few days that go exactly the way we'd like them to go. There always seem to be different things happening that can affect our plans. Until we learn that our joy can't be based on our circumstances, we're going to have nothing but what I call a “yo-yo” experience, which is up and down, up and down, up and down. We have to find a way to stay happy, even when our circumstances don't suit us or we don't get a breakthrough as quickly as we'd like—or when people around us aren't what we'd like them to be or they're frustrating us or there's disappointment.
God is never going to put us into a situation or permit us to be in one, without giving us the ability to be in it with joy. I believe God makes His grace available to us each and every day. If God asks us to stay in a situation, then He is going to give us a special grace, for a special season, to experience His peace and joy despite the circumstances. It's the kind of grace that causes other people to look at us and think, I'm just amazed you are able to do this and still have so much joy and peace. This is how it should be instead of us telling them that we just don't think we can make it.
Let Your Attitude Speak
As Christians, I believe the attitude we live with and the level of joy, peace and stability seen in our life is what will speak to the people around us much more than if we try to preach to them. It's about how we live our life in front of them, especially when things are not going perfectly for us all the time.
For people in places right now who are saying, “I'm staying in the situation because I believe it's what God wants me to do, but I'm so miserable, frustrated and unhappy,” there's good news. The good news is that God has provided a way for us to deal with frustration—His grace. I know many times we hear that grace is God's riches at Christ's expense, and that's a good definition. But to be honest, it's just a little bit too spiritual for me. I need something that's going to put it into a practical format for me. I like to define grace as “God's power to help us do whatever it is we need to do.”
Receive Power Through God's Grace
Grace is power. It's power, power, power! It's God's power we receive by the grace of God through faith. Everything comes to us through faith, which God also gives us.
Romans 12:3 says, ...God has allotted to each a measure of faith (NASB). We need to ask ourselves, What am I doing with my faith? Are we putting our faith in ourselves? Are we trying to fix things ourselves by trying to change ourselves or our family? Or trying to get our boss's attention so we can make more money and get a promotion? If so, that's not grace. It's our own works.
But when we release our faith and trust God to do what we can't do, we're putting our faith in Him. Then the grace—which is God's power—comes through the channel of faith and enables us to do what will just amaze us and other people.
Here's my longer definition of grace: It's God's power coming to us freely—meaning it doesn't cost us anything other than just putting our faith in God, enabling us to do with ease what we could never do on our own with any amount of struggle and effort.
Rely on God
I believe every time we feel frustration, it means we've really stopped relying on God, leaning on Him, and receiving His grace and are trying to make something happen our own way. Understanding this really helped me see that I spent a lot of time being frustrated. To help myself, I had some signs made to put up around my house that said things like, "Works of the flesh equal frustration." Every time I became frustrated, the signs helped me remember I had tried to become Holy Spirit Junior. When I try to work things out on my own, in essence I'm saying, "Okay, God, I appreciate You being around, but watch me do this."
Most of us have a problem with an independent spirit. We have difficulty depending on God for everything. Grace is not only the power for salvation; it's the victory we need every single day of our life.
In Galatians 2, the Bible says that if we receive salvation by grace, we shouldn't think we're going to reach perfection by depending on our flesh. It's like thinking that God saves us and helps us when we're at the end of ourselves and ready to give up, then just kind of throws us the ball and says, "Okay, now you go make the touchdown."
The same way we receive Christ is the same way we are supposed to live each day of our life—in total, complete dependence on Him. Grace is like light. But what we tend to do a lot of the time is fight with darkness, when all we need to do is just run to the light. What's the purpose of gathering in the dark, banging into each other, struggling with the darkness and trying to punch it out, when all we have to do is turn on a switch? The minute the light comes on, it swallows up the darkness.
Too often we struggle with ourselves and our weaknesses, trying to change, spending time being mad about things in our life. But what we really need to do is just get more light into the situation.
Galatians 5:16 (AMPC) urges us to walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit...then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh.... Notice how it doesn't say "conquer the flesh so you can walk in the Spirit."
What we need to do is walk in the Spirit. When we concentrate on walking in the Spirit, we won't fulfill the lust of the flesh because we will be focused on God, His goodness, our relationship with Him, and His love for us. Other things will just dissipate because of the power of God in our life. Grace is power—plain and simple. It's the power of God available to us in whatever amount we need.