October 31st, 2020

Sailing against the wind


By Submitted Article on May 23, 2020.

Frustration

Last of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

In the personal faith of Christians, the main frustrations are unanswered prayers, unfulfilled ideals, unsuccessful efforts, unacceptable miseries and unrestorable losses.

Jesus promised that when we ask in his name and according to his will, we will receive (John 15:7, 15). When we pray in that spirit, and nothing happens, we feel frustrated. After persevering for a long time, with no results, we become exasperated and give up.

Doing Bible study on prayer reveals that there are two factors we easily forget: God’s timing and God’s method.

When my wife and I fell in love, I was a poor student. I prayed for a tiny two-seater car. It would make our visits so much easier. Then she got a car with four seats. Her dad paid for the car and its services; we shared the fuel costs. When I finished my studies, I got a medium-sized car, far better than what I asked for. God’s timing and method were better than mine.

Unfulfilled dreams can haunt us and leave us despondent, stuck in the mud. When God saved my life miraculously, my dad planted the idea in my mind to become a pastor. I chose my courses at school accordingly. Money was a problem. We prayed for guidance. When I finished school, my dad’s boss offered me an interest-free loan. The dream became reality.

My golden rule was always to do my best while trusting the Lord. I did that as pastoral counsellor, too. However, I soon realized that one sows and another one reaps (John 4:37). Many processes in life are chain reactions. I am only one link in a chain of events, and I am seldom the last link. I did not see the ripe harvest often.

I find solace, though, in God’s promise that his word never returns empty to him (Is. 55:10-11). Therefore, I can know that my work for the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).

Health problems, financial struggles and the loss of loved ones can affect our mood and faith adversely.

I will never forget the day when I received two bad diagnoses together: diabetes and cancer. It was as if the horn for end of play has sounded; but the divine referee has allowed the match to continue for a while. By the grace of God, I am now cancer-free for 10 years, while the diabetes is kept under control.

During the same 10 years, my wife developed dementia and was for three years in long-term care. Eventually, she fell into a coma because of a bladder tumour, blocked ureters and kidney failure. I wanted to fight for her life. When God took her home, I realized that he has shortened her suffering and mine.

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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