Frustration Teaches Me True Compassion



About a year ago while visiting my brother’s family I went to a store to help my niece buy a backpack for school. She picked out one with wheels that the “big kids used” but this idea was quickly shut down by her mother.

As you can imagine tears and crying came because of this and her mother turned to ask for Uncle John’s help consoling. But I was long gone 🙂


Many of us just don’t know how to deal with people who are crying or in pain. Part of us want’s to take the suffering away, but we have absolutely no idea how to do it.  This is strengthened by our definition of compassion.

Somewhere along the way we have bought into the idea that true compassion for someone who is hurting means taking their pain away immediately.

Initially this is a good idea since we aren’t created to suffer alone…however it’s very easy to go overboard with that idea (I usually find a strong urge in my heart to strap that pain to my back and carry it for them).

While this may sound loving it actually isn’t becasue God has a purpose for the suffering of life. And by taking away their pain, I’m robbing that individual of a growing experience.


Obviously God doesn’t want us to simply stand back and watch the person suffer, so how should we respond?

Through life the Lord has taught me compassion is about sharing the suffering of an individual instead of taking it away.

This kind of love isn’t about sharing their suffering as much as it’s about sharing YOUR suffering.


Sharing Memories of Frustration from John Wilburn on Vimeo.


A huge part of frustration’s pain comes from the belief that we are the only ones who ever experienced something like this before. In a sense it isolates us from others, and strengthens the shame in our hearts.

The thing is there are others who have experienced that same pain or emotion (perhaps not to our extent, but they still know what it feels like). And as they share how God strengthened them in their suffering a very powerful truth is revealed.

Your not the only one


In my mind this is true compassion because it deals with the deeper problem [1] instead of one that everyone can see. And when an individual is looking at the frustration properly [2] their outer issues will eventually become stronger.

Believe it or not our frustration experiences are a gift from God…for when we listen to someone share their struggles we are compelled to share how the Lord brought us through our own valleys


Of course that’s incredibly hard for us since we have to dig up that painful experience that’s been buried for years.

  1. The time we tried and failed
  2. The time we couldn’t understand God
  3. The time we decided we knew better than the Lord
  4. The time we had not to ask for help
  5. And as we share those experiences we relive it’s pain.

So instead of sharing our own frustration we just do whatever it takes to take make them stop crying.


In other words we buy them the book bag with wheels [3].

But as we rip the band aid off our own emotional wounds we will find our own pain can be used for God’s glory as other see they truly aren’t alone.

  1. feelings of shame and worthlessness  ↩
  2. focusing on God instead of the pain  ↩
  3. I didn’t but the only reason was her mother wouldn’t let me  ↩

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