I have been frustrated a lot over the past few months. Over little things, over big things. I didn’t discriminate, I just slipped into frustration again and again. I was frustrated with having to work from home, with video conferencing instead of seeing people, with writing notes instead of giving hugs, with the ache of loneliness that kept resurfacing, with drivers on the road, with grocery stores being out of necessities, with my own attitude, with my own ineptitude to overcome sin, with my own ingratitude, etc.
The core of my frustration was really my sin in one thing – not trusting God and submitting to His sovereign authority in my life. This is a common theme for me. It is an ongoing struggle – and I mean that word purposefully. I struggle with it, against it, fighting it. My growth in this area largely has been two steps forward and one step backward.
In the midst of this recent bout, I was reading Numbers and came across the story of Balaam and Balak in chapters 22-24. The short version of their story is that Balak was the King of Moab, and he wanted to pay Balaam to curse Israel. You see, he had heard about how Israel had been defeating all the neighboring kingdoms, and he wanted his kingdom to be spared from annihilation. He knew that Balaam’s blessing or curse would stick, so he pursued an alliance with him. Balak pushed Balaam and offered great wealth, and eventually Balaam agreed to go with Balak’s men.
Balaam traveled on his trusty donkey, but that day she acted strangely. Instead of following the path, she turned off the road to a field, then she pushed herself against the wall crushing Balaam’s foot, and she laid down and refused to go any further. Each time she strayed from the path, Balaam beat her for it. After the last beating, she spoke to him and asked him why he beat her and what had she done to him?
Balaam answered her back that she was abusing him and that she was lucky that he didn’t have a sword or he’d kill her instead of just beat her.[PAUSE] I need to just stop and interject here because this part of the story has always baffled me. Balaam’s response to his donkey talking to him … was to ANSWER BACK. I’m sorry, if my dog starts conversing with me one day, I’m not sure my response will be to answer his questions. [UNPAUSE]
Here’s the climax of this part of the story, straight from Scripture:
So the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?” And he said, “No.” Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. And the Angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me. The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.” Numbers 22:30-33
The donkey saw things that Balaam didn’t, and it made all the difference to his story.
In the midst of my frustrations, I’m like Balaam beating on his donkey. There are things at work that I know nothing about. What we see is not always what we get. God has a perspective that we can’t possibly have, so we have to trust Him. And we absolutely CAN trust Him–He is trustworthy. God works in and through the frustrations of life.
So I’ve been speaking these verses to myself often:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
- Trust the Lord with ALL your heart.
- Our human understanding is wrong…don’t lean that way because we’re probably leaning away from following #1.
- Acknowledge Him in ALL our ways.
- He will direct our path. So let Him.
I don’t want my frustrations talking back to me like Balaam’s donkey. It’s amazing how my frustrations decrease as my trust in God increases. What has you frustrated today, this week, this pandemic? Join me as I (in God’s strength) trust the Lord with ALL my heart and let Him direct my path as He sees fit.