Freed in frustration

Stress. Pressure. Struggle. Trials.

Count them all joy? (James 1:2)

I pray against them. Don’t you?

When Jaden has seizures, I pray they will end.

When my bank account is empty, I pray it will be filled.

When my friend suffers, I pray for relief.

When the days ahead look dark, I pray for sunshine.

But this week God gave me just a glimpse of what He’s up to.


I opened my kids’ history book in preparation to teach “The Principle of Christian Character” and found one answer to the “why?” we all ask:

“Character” literally means “to stamp and engrave through pressure.” This sums up nicely what God is doing in our lives. God’s plan is to make each person like Him. Romans 8:29 tells us that God has predestined that we are to be conformed into the image of Christ. He is building His character within us, or you might say, He is stamping and engraving upon us His image. In so doing, He often uses pressure.

(America’s Providential History by Dr. Mark A. Beliles & Stephen K. McDowell)


Tullian Tchividjian provided a little more insight for me via Liberate on Moody radio. Let me summarize:

Our trials remove from us what we believe we need most — the very things we think we need to be happy, to survive.

But when God takes those things from us, and our peace and joy go along with them, we discover that they have been our idols.

If we can’t be happy without it, it’s an idol.

God is all about liberating us from our idols. He longs to prove to us that we will have all we need in Him, rather than…

Health, control, success, recognition, appreciation,

Marriage, children, possessions, financial security,

Just one peaceful day…

When I find any of those in jeopardy, my reaction is usually to bemoan my fate.

(And maybe think that God might be able to bring some good from it.)

But praise God for a glimpse of something more:

A realization that…


Our frustrations, our pain, our battles are FULL of purpose!

  • They are stamping and engraving Christ’s character into our lives.
  • They are releasing us from the bondage of idols.
  • They free us to “count it all joy!”

“Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

James 1:2-4


**Is this a new angle for you too? Would you share any of your insights about being refined?


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2 thoughts on “Freed in frustration

  1. In Him Inspiration September 15, 2013 at 9:23 pm Reply

    I have been facing trial after trial for so long that it has become habit to pray first when a new trial arises or when I become weary during a trial that has been going on for years. I love the verses you quoted in this post! They are a great reminder that it’s not about me. It’s about Him. Him preparing me and you for our eternal lives.

    Great post! God Bless!

    • Jennifer Ebenhack September 16, 2013 at 12:31 pm Reply

      It’s so encouraging to see others living this out! I’m so grateful that He promises to finish the work he began in us (Phil. 1:6)!

      Grateful for your encouragement and example!

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