Sometimes we have things all planned out in our minds of how things are going to be. It looks lovely, makes sense, and logically it should all happen that way because that’s what appears to be best. 

But when it doesn’t work out that way, a funny feeling sets in … it doesn’t feel good. It’s not the feeling you were planning on having when you set the vision. It’s a feeling that, if things happened the way you’d planned, wouldn’t be there. It’s the feeling of frustration.

The American Heritage Dictionary describes frustration as being, The act of preventing the accomplishment or fulfillment of something.

When we look at this definition, the accomplishment or fulfillment of something generally means something that is in our control. When that is prevented, it is taken out of our control and that causes frustration.

It’s a beautiful day

Like most people, I personally like the feeling of joy, contentment, hope and happiness. These emotions make you feel good. They make you want to get up in the morning singing Michael Buble’s It’s a Beautiful Day and even creating some choreography to go with it. There’s nothing quite like making a plan and seeing it succeed. But when it doesn’t happen the way it should, a struggle sets in and that’s when things start to go south. 

Children who suffer frustration express it by throwing a tantrum. Adults who suffer frustration express it by … throwing a tantrum.

Frustration can hit anyone at any time. Whether it be waiting for that special someone to come into your life, waiting for a baby, getting to mid-life and still trying to work out what you’re going to be when you grow up, or planning a holiday and that distant future is still distant. Things out of our control are not fun and cause all sorts of negative emotions. But while these negative emotions don’t feel good, Ecclesiastes tells us that negative emotions are actually good for us. That’s right folks, you heard it correctly. Let me show you where exactly it says that in the Bible:

‘Frustration is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.’ (Ecclesiastes chapter 7 verse 3)

Wait! What? A sad face is good for the heart? Why would it say that? Let’s see what else it says:

‘The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.’ (Ecclesiastes chapter 7 verse 4)

Well, this is a bit topsy turvy. Let’s look at why frustration is better than laughter, why a sad face is good for the heart, and why the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning.

Frustration is better than laughter

If frustration comes from a place of not being in control, then that’s exactly where God wants us. When God takes us to a place of not being in control, He is wanting us to give that control back to Him. 

‘So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah chapter 4 verse 6)

We may be strong in our faith, we may be doing all the right things, we may be obedient to God’s calling, but sometimes when He wants to take us up a level, or draw us even closer to Him, He’s going to cause you to say again, “Jesus take the wheel”.  It’s when we get to those moments when our human selves just aren’t coping, can’t make it happen, or our bodies just aren’t strong enough to keep up the pace. We’ve got to be surrendered again and hold His hand. Jesus, take the wheel.

So, frustration is better than laughter because it puts things back into perspective and reminds us that God is God. 

A sad face is good for the heart

Why would a sad face be good for the heart? Sadness causes us to reflect. We start pondering, “Why am I sad? What are the circumstances that are making us feel sad?” You don’t want to be sad all the time, but when sadness comes along, God’s use of it is for us to reflect and to draw closer to God. Whatever the circumstance, whether it be the loss of a loved one, the loss of a dream, or disappointment, God calls us to lean in and give whatever it is over to Him. 

Jesus says in Matthew chapter 11 verses 28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning

What now, is this business of the heart of the wise being in the house of mourning? 

When a loved one passes, people gather. We gather and hear stories. Stories of that loved one’s life, what people loved about them, what made them stand out, what was it about them that made them who they are remembered for. 

Times of mourning are times of gathering, of people, and of wisdom. They are times of reflecting on the lost one’s life, our own lives, and being faced with the reality of our mortality here on earth, eternity before us, and a time for re-prioritising to make our lives mean more from this moment on. 

So, it is okay to feel sad. I found reading these verses gave me permission and the freedom to feel sad, without feeling guilty for that. And weirdly, that made me feel happy! For as Ecclesiastes chapter three says:

‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

A time to be born and a time to die, 

A time to plant and a time to uproot,

A time to kill and a time to heal, 

A time to tear down and a time to build, 

A time to weep and a time to laugh,

A time to mourn and a time to dance,

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

A time to search and a time to give up, 

A time to keep and a time to throw away,

A time to tear and a time to mend,

A time to be silent and a time to speak,

A time to love and a time to hate,

A time to war and a time for peace.

And though it is okay to be sad or frustrated, it is just for a time. Remember that the joy of the Lord is your strength, and you need to come out of that time of sadness at some point. Learn what you need to learn while you’re in it, ponder, re-assess, re-prioritise, lean in and gain wisdom, but then come out of it for Ecclesiastes also says:

‘I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil – this is the gift of God.’ (Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verses 12-13)

Last modified: March 6, 2024

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