God Encourages the Discouraged: Venting Frustration by John Goh

Frustration is the feeling of being upset or annoyed because of the inability to change or achieve something. Being in this state may cause anger, annoyance, disappointment or sometimes violence. Being frustrated is even harder for the depressed as they have to struggle with both frustration and depression at the same time. How do we respond to a depressed person who is frustrated? Let us look at how God does it.

In 1 Kings 19:5-8, God first ministered to Elijah’s physical need by providing Elijah with rest and replenishment repeatedly. Next, God ministered to Elijah emotionally. Let us look at 1 Kings 19:9-10,

[9] There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” [10] He said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” (ESV)

In the Bible, God always ask questions that He already knows the answers. God asked Adam, “Where are you?” God knew where Adam was. God asked Cain, “Where is your brother, Abel?” God knew that Abel was dead. So, in verse 9, why did God ask Elijah this question? This was simply to guide Elijah to talk and vent out his frustration.

Elijah blew off steam to God and poured out his inner feelings. God allowed Elijah to vent his frustrations without condemning or criticizing him. God listened non-judgementally. Elijah practically accused God of infidelity. But God was not defensive. He deals patiently and tenderly with His over-wrought child.

God knew Elijah was wrong when he said he was the only one left as God revealed later in verse 18 that there are “… seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” God did not correct Elijah at that time because God wanted Elijah to flush out these toxic emotions from his system.

Venting frustration alleviates tension and stress. So, if you encounter a depressed person who is frustrated, guide him to vent out his frustration by asking simple a question like “Can you tell me what is bothering you?” even though you already know the answer. Listen to him non-judgementally and patiently. Do not criticize. Do not condemn.

Venting of frustration is important if we want to rid ourselves of destructive emotions like fear, anger, worry, bitterness, hatred, jealousy and self-pity. For the depressed, one of the most common method of venting frustrations is crying. Tears are God-given means of release. Not long ago, I heard a story about a depressed person, called his good friend in the middle of the night to meet up. As soon as the depressed saw his friend, he started crying and venting out his frustration while his friend listened non-judgementally and patiently.

During this Covid19 pandemic, many are frustrated as their plans are derailed. There are many who struggled to look for a job, sending out over 100 job applications a day but none responded. These people are frustrated and they need someone to talk to. They need hope. As FBC is embracing a missional posture this year, let us reach out to these people with the message of the gospel of salvation.

If you would like to know more on how you can care for the depressed, you can contact Elder Arnold Lim or myself through the church office. FBC Family Life Ministry is recruiting. The harvest is plenty but the workers are few.

Blessed week ahead!

Leave a Reply