Frustration is not simply the result of failing to accomplish a task. It is also a product of our expectations. If we expect that we have what it takes to accomplish a task, we will be frustrated and feel inadequate when we fail. We might also become angry with those who refuse to comply with our plan.
Our expectations also involve others, society, and government. When they fail to meet our expectations, we might also feel helpless, inadequate, overwhelmed, frustrated and angry. However, we do not live in a just world. We live in a world where everyone is pursuing their own interests, and these are often contrary to our own.
How are we to live with these frustrations? Firstly, we have to recognize how limited and small we are. We can barely change ourselves, let alone those around us. In fact, Jesus informed His disciples that “without me, you can do nothing.” Surprisingly, He confessed, “The Son can do nothing by himself” (John 5:19). Paul confessed that, although God had given him a great ministry, he was inadequate:
- Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God. (2 Corinthians 3:5; ESV)
This understanding didn’t come naturally to Paul. He had to come to a point of self-despair before he could truly trust in God (2 Cor. 1:8-9). This is a lesson I need to relearn a thousand times. The Lord is showing me that I cannot trust in my intellect, teachings, or writings to change anyone. The more I do, the more conflict I experience.
How do we cope with our inadequate lives and this increasingly menacing world? Only by keeping our eyes on our Savior! The Psalmist wisely wrote:
- Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. (Psalm 37:1-7)
This is not a resignation to failure and evil. Instead, it is a recognition that we need our Lord’s help every step of the way! He alone is our hope!