Holy Frustration Batman!

Posted: February 8, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Ok… I’m frustrated! And what pray tell am I frustrated about? I am frustrated over the bad rap that “frustration” is getting. Frustration is not high on the list of coveted or even distained “emotions” and “feelings” like love or hate or anger or jealousy or fear or sadness. In fact, frustration doesn’t even make the list of emotions! So what is frustration? Is it an emotion? Is it a feeling? What is it?! Well, one thing I do know is… frustration can be a powerful force.

I guess I need to share a little bit about where my current frustration concerning “frustration” is coming from. It all started because I was in a meeting and shared some frustration. I was told that I needed to be careful with being frustrated. That is good advice. I heeded it. We do need to be careful with frustration because it can lead to the “dark side”! However, can we be too careful with frustration and dismiss it all as bad? This thought, this question has led me to my current frustration.

Here’s why. Whatever frustration is – emotion, feeling, an unnamable force – I don’t believe that all frustration is bad. Frustration can be destructive, however, it can also be a motivating factor for beneficial change.

As a Christian, Jesus Christ is my ultimate example. Besides being my Lord, and my Savior, He’s my hero. He’s my standard. He’s my life. So, I look to Him to lead the way. And there is a time in scripture, where Jesus is FRUSTRATED. Yeah, Jesus, who was perfect and sinned not. We read in the book of Matthew, Mark and John, how Jesus went in to the temple and turned over the tables of the money changers. Jesus was FRUSTRATED, because they were turning the temple into something that it was not to be. His exact words in Matthew 21:13 were:  “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'” Jesus got frustrated and made some beneficial changes that needed to be made.

This has happened throughout history. The Americas were discovered because FRUSTRATED merchants were looking for a shorter trade route. The Christian Reformation took place because Martin Luther looked around and was frustrated, because he didn’t like how the Church was being run. We drive automobiles because FRUSTRATED inventors got tired of walking and riding horses. Almost every modern invention we enjoy today was birthed out of frustration. Somebody thought, we can do this better.

So… is frustration good or bad? Well, I think it’s neither. I think it just is. What we do with our frustration will determine “frustration’s” future.

I was frustrated, so I blogged about it, and man do I feel better!

So what about you? Are you frustrated? Is it good? Is it bad? You decide… because remember… frustration can destroy or frustration can lead to beneficial change.

FRUSTRATION…. It’s future is in your hands.

Comments
  1. Joel Beyer says:

    Harlan
    I have enjoyed reading your blogs. I have agree that we need to watch our reaction to frustration. Very good things have come from frustration as you mentioned. However I have to respectfully disagree with you though. Jesus was not frustrated when He entered the temple and straightened it out. He cleared it out out of love for His people. He knew that His temple was filled with things that did not belong there, much like we (His temple) are. He was well aware of what was going on. He loved His people enough that he knew the temple needed to be set back in order because it was not in a condition that would fulfill His purpose. He knew that was exactly what He was sent to do. He went in to the temple not filled with frustration but in love to show the people that the temple needed to be set back in order. We have this same thing occur when He deals with us. Im so thankful that He does not come to me to deal with me and clean out my “stuff” out of frustration but instead out of love. In Mark it says that He turned over the tables and then spoke to the people, TEACHING them. Someone that is frustrated does not deal with things and then turn around and teach that person.

    So many people look at that story and automatically assume that Jesus was frustrated. But if He dealt with us, clearing out His temple in us, out of frustration, it would be out of character for Him. And He does not get out of character. Frustration is the exact opposite of Hope, and He says to have hope. Frustration destroys hope.

    This is something that the Lord has really laid on my heart. I do not want to come across as argumentative, I just really want people to see what He has laid on my heart.

    • harlanhobson says:

      Hey Joel! Great to hear from you and I love your input. I totally agree that Jesus’ motivation is, was and continues to be love. Love, first and foremost for the purposes of God. His purposes, His Glory. 2nd, His love for us. However, I still believe that frustration can be present even when love is the motivating force. Let me ask… do you think that Jesus was ever frustrated? What about when He asked His disciples, in Matt 14:31″You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Or how about when he said, in Matt 17:17 “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? ”

      Just because Jesus’ motivation is Love and His desire for us to understand His ways…. doesn’t mean that He wasn’t ever frustrated. I am often frustrated with my children even though I love them deeply and greatly.

      I hope you understand the purpose of this blog. It was written somewhat “tongue and cheek” in order to show that frustration isn’t neccesarily bad. It really matters what we do with it and what our motivation is. I pray that I can be more like Jesus and have Love my primary motivating factor in my life. I want His motivation to be my motivation. But the truth is, when God’s love and His ways are my primary motivation, then frustration will be a part of my life, because we live in a fallen world that so often spurns God’s love and rejects His forgiveness and His Word and His salvation… and honestly brother… that is frustrating!

  2. Joel Beyer says:

    I love conversations like this, they make us grow so much by making us focus on what the Holy Spirit says, which is the most important thing. I have grown so much through conversations like this leading me to focus on what He says. I love it.

    To answer your question, no I dont think Jesus was ever frustrated. To understand why we need to look first at what the word frustrated (or either frustration or frustrate) means. One definition of the word is a “deep chronic emotional sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs.”(Websters Dictionary) When we look at that definition, I dont think Jesus ever had a sense of insecurity, on the other hand He knew exactly what He was there to do. Do I feel Jesus was deeply sadened and concerned with the things He was dealing with, absolutely! When He was talking to His disciples in Matthew He was concerned with their situation but I do not feel He was frustrated. In Matthew 14, He used the situation to teach. Why do you have such little faith after all the things you have seen? In Matthew 17 He was trying to get them to realize that He would not always be with them to do the work and that they needed to learn how to do the works. Was He disapointed in them? Yes. Was he sadened that they did not react properly the way He was teaching them to do? Yes. But He was not frustrated.

    See frustration results from a loss of focus on the end goal. I get frustrated with my kids as well, but its because I allow the flesh to control the situation and not follow the Spirit. Jesus never lived by the flesh. Since the Lord layed this on my heart a month or so ago I have really been looking at the way I handle my relationship with my children, and I have noticed two very distict situations. When my children do something I dont approve of, I have two choices (and frustration is a choice, we can chose to be frustrated or not to be). 1)I can get frustrated with them, losing site of the end goal of training them up to know the ways of the Lord. When I chose the route of frustration to rule the situation it always, every time without failure, leads to situations Im not the most proud of. It can lead to diciplining my children out of frustration and is usually much more of a punishment than they deserved. 2)Or I can handle the situation with hope, realizing before frustration is allowed to set in that nothing good will come out of me diciplining in frustration. Instead I use the situation to further train them in the areas the are deficient in. This is the attitude Jesus entered the temple with. He could have chosen to be frustrated with the situation, but He also knew that dealing with the situation out of frustration would lead to nothing.

    I do feel that frustration is a bad thing, always. The reason is that it take the place of the peace and hope that Christ instills in us, and that is not a good situation to be in. What we do with the frustration is not what matters, but the choice to chose, am I going to be frustrated in this situation or go about it with hope is what matters. You used the example of the inventions in the blog. Those inventions did not come out of frustration, but out of removing the frustration from the situation and having hope that something better was coming. To be more like Jesus is our ultimate goal. Jesus lived His entire life in the Spirit, not the flesh. Frustration is a flesh emotion. If Gods love and His ways are our primary motivation we will be compelled to live in the Spirit as He desires us to. God does not desire for frustration to be any part of our lives, especially beacause we live in Him. Yes we live in a fallen world that rejects God, but keep in mind that we are in this world but we are not of this world. That right there is how Jesus lived His life, in the world but not of it. One of His promises is peace. Frustration is the opposite of peace. How can His peace reign in our lives if we go around looking at every situation, or any situation for that matter, frustrated that our kids dont want to do what we tell them to, or things arent going the way we think they should, or bills arent getting paid, or, or, or…. When His peace reigns in us, a peace that can only come from the realization that we are not limited to this world, the frustration has no place.

    • harlanhobson says:

      Awww…. semantics, semantics! The meaning of words! This is the heart of many a well meaning argument! I stand by my position that Jesus did, at times, experience frustration. Jesus was perfect and sinned not, on this I know we agree! However, one of the meanings of frustrate or frustrated is: To be upset or aggitated. I believe Jesus was upset! He even displayed anger on numerous occasions and yet… sinned not! And I believe that numerous inventors, politicians, leaders, etc. through out history have experienced frustration that led them to a point of wanting to change situations. Our forefathers came to America because they were frustrated with religous persecution! Thank God they did! The civil war was full of frustration on both sides, guarantee it, However painful the war and battle was, the outcome was needed. Change had to come.
      I was led to Jesus because I was frustrated with my life and the direction it was going. I was led into ministry because I was frustrated and unfullfilled in my career path. I believe there is Holy Frustration!

      Rom 8:20-21
      20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
      NIV

      In the King James and NASB the word “futility” is used instead of frustration. However, I still believe the point is made that God allows frustration as a motivating factor for us to search for something greater… hopefully Him!

      Again, we can agree to disagree on this one, but I really think that our conversation comes down to semantics and intended meaning. Remember, I was writing this somewhat tongue in cheek. My intention was to be real, genuine and honest about the fact the we all experience frustration, and we don’t have to stay frustrated! We can stay frustrated or we can allow God to change us, and we can allow frustration to lead us to a greater place. Something good can come out of frustration.

      Thanks again for your thoughts! I love discussion like this and I appreciate you bringing in another perspective that makes me ponder what i have said Biblically and spiritually.

      Thanks!

  3. Joel Beyer says:

    I first want to say that I am not trying to be argumentative or antagonistic. That is by no means my purpose or reason. My one and only focus is the desire that all will see things through the Lords eyes and live totally and completely in and through Him.

    There are a lot of things we agree on and that Jesus lived a perfect life is the most important.

    I dont normally like to get into the meanings and use of words but when dealing with the character of God, the meaning of words and a good understanding is important. But more important is that everything we know and understand in the Word is led by the Holy Spirit. I have read that passage many many times through my life and always had the same thoughts that Jesus was frustrated. It wasnt until God revealed to me what I have shared with you that my eyes were open to the reality of how Christ lived. If we are not careful to listed to the Spirit and just take what we have learned since we were kids, we can take a word, a passage or about anything out of the context God intended it to be in. I have to admit that I have never seen the definition you state. I believe Jesus was upset but not frustrated.

    I believe fully, too, that God uses our frustration, when we get wrapped up in it. I dont disagree that some great things have come from peoples frustration, as you have mentioned. But even better things have come when people let God lead and direct them through those times to bring about His planned results instead of getting wrapped up in frustration.

    I love, love, love that verse you use because it expresses Gods desire for us perfectly: creation (us) was subjected to frustration by God. WHY? For just the purpose you state, that we may turn to Him. The hope and desire that His creation would turn to Him and be liberated from the bondage to decay (frustration is included in this), and brought into the freedom from this decay as a Child of God, is what He wants. This was the whole purpose of the old testement law. The law was set by God to show the people the fact that living by the law would only lead to frustration and that the only way away from the frustration was through Him. This frustration is what brought you to Him. And that is AWESOME!!! But the end of the verse states that when we become children of God we are brought into the glorious liberty of freedom away from frustration. We are no longer bondservants to frustration, among all the other things. Seeing this, God is saying we dont have to live a life with any frustration. Yes I completely agree that when we do experience frustration, we do have a choice of what to do with it. And a lot of great things can come from it. But we dont have to experience frustration. That is my whole point, we just dont have to. And if God released us from having to experience this frustration, why is it we think that Jesus would have ever had to experience it.

    So that is what God has laid on my heart about all of this. Again my intention is that eyes are turned toward Him and what He says, not being argumentative. I look forward to each of your blogs and hearing what you have to say. And I look forward to the next time we meet in person and get to share fellowship in the Lord. Thank you for bringing discussion that pushes for greater understanding and true knowledge, I realy enjoy it and love how it bring me, and hopefully others, to a stronger relationship with Him.

    Your brother in Christ
    Joel

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