Disappointments and failures are God’s reminders that in this life we will not be perfect. We may be the greatest or the best person in this life but still we could feel empty, restless, or incomplete. And that’s frustrating. That’s because as long as we live in this body of death we will always deal with all kinds of failures and frustrations inside us and outside of us. This is the apostle Paul’s complaint in Romans 7:15-20:
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”
Sin that dwells in us will always frustrate us. Remember that. Even if you’re a Christian, you will not always do what you are supposed to do. This does not mean that we give up living the Christian life. No. This simply means that we don’t give up pursuing holiness and striving against sin and temptation because God provides us the power to obey Him and to overcome sin.
In Christ, by the power of His Spirit, we are more than conquerors. So don’t give up because God is not giving up on us. He will continue and finish the work that He has started in you and me. But it will not be finished in this present world. So persevere. Continue the fight. Run the race set for us by the Lord, the race that we will finish if we will not give up and grow weary.
So can we praise God even in our frustrations and failures? Yes, we can. Paul, at the end of Romans 7, thanked God in spite of his frustration. But before he gave thanks, he admits his frustration, even his helplessness in himself. Listen to what he says:
“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Rom. 7:24-25).
Friends, I hope you will realize that God is not yet done with you and me. He is not finished with the good work He is working in us yet. Maybe you made many New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of the year and are far from finishing them. That as well is very frustrating. I tell you what, make it as your goal in life the goal that God has set for everyone of us. Once your goal is the same as God’s goal, you’ll surely reach it, by His grace.
Do you know God’s goal for your life? Where can you find God’s goal in your life? In the Bible. There are many parts of the Bible that tell us about the goal of God for us. But one passage in the Holy Scripture that tells us about it is in Romans 8:29: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
God’s goal for us is to become like Christ. To become obedient children of God. To become humble servants of God. To become faithful sons or daughters of God. To become holy and pure men and women of God. That’s the goal for us.
Do you know what it takes to become like that? What does it take for gold or silver to become pure? It takes a lot of fire. And it’s the same for us. Before we can truly shine and be completely pleasing in the eyes of the Lord, God will cause us to go through all kinds of trials and difficulties. That’s why we can praise God and rejoice even in frustrations because God’s goal for us cannot be hindered by our frustrations. Why? Because God is able to make us rejoice even in, and in spite of, our failures and frustrations.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
(Psalm 51:8-12, ESV)