Frustration Teaches Me True Strength


One of the greatest lessons the Lord has taught me through the frustrating situations of life is what we view as strength is actually weakness.

I watch lots of television (a self-confessed tv addict) and always find myself fascinated by men in leading roles of an action program like 24 [1].

Jack Bauer the start of 24 has a particular way of dealing with problems

  1. He doesn’t talk about it
  2. He doesn’t show emotion
  3. He doesn’t ask for help (except from Chloe)
  4. He does whatever it takes to fix the problem himself

The strange thing is today we can see the same idea being shared by our culture.

  • Don’t talk about the problem
  • Compartmentalize it right away
  • Don’t ask for help
  • And deal with it yourself
  • In other words just be strong [2] [3]

The truly sad thing about this response is it doesn’t really display strength by trying to understand the pain of a frustrating situation, it displays weakness by trying to escape the pain

Most of you who read this blog know that my normal response to stress is eating junk food…preferably donuts. It’s at the point that during a stressful situation my mind will immediately start thinking about them.

In a way donuts are my way of medicating the pain of a frustrating situation. Not in the sense of using a drug of course, but the same way a pill takes the suffering away, a creme filled donut makes everything better (at least for a while).

Responses like turning to something enjoy, or compartmentalizing while suffering are of necessary in life. However there is something we must understand.

You cannot escape the pain of frustration

Take it from me, all the creme filled pastry in the world isn’t enough to truly take away your pain. The happiness will last for about ten minutes, after which you will feel worse [4].

It takes some of us a longer time to learn this lesson than others, but eventually everyone learns you must face your pain.

And in this way frustration teaches us what strength looks like.

You see real strength is a lot different from Jack Bauer

  1. It involves allowing the pain to overwhelm us (you aren’t running from it)
  2. It involves evaluation of the pain (why am I feeling this way?)
  3. It involves learning from the pain (what is God trying to teach me?)
  4. It involves turning to the Lord for help with the pain
  5. It involves changing your life as a result of the pain

Of course we won’t be thinking that rationally in the moment of suffering. Thankfully the Lord will help us think through our pain if we simply stop running from it.

When thinking about a true picture of strength my father comes to mind.


As a child whenever struggling with something my first thought was to take away the pain as quickly as possible.

Instead dad wanted to talk about the problem.

I hated this becauses sitting down and talking meant instead of escaping it, all of that pain was going to come down on me in waves.

As I got older in my great wisdom I decided not to ask dad for help but instead deal with the problems on my own (trying to run from the pain).

Eventually I always found myself sitting down with him and talking about it.

Facing our pain isn’t something enjoyable, but trust me when I say you will do it eventually. It’s better to go ahead and do it right away instead of being forced to after weeks of running.

  1. Jack Bauer  ↩
  2. Dr. Ed Welch in his awesome book Shame Interrupted explains how this view of strength has to do with our fear of others rejection  ↩
  3.–1&keywords=shame+interrupted  ↩
  4. Now I’m fat and discouraged 🙂  ↩

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