Think about it, you either spend the day frustrated because things are not going your way (short sleep, long day, bad traffic, crap dinner) or you spend the day pursuing pleasure (long sleep, chocolate, Netflix, Twitter, sex, more sleep).
Usually we seek one (pleasure) because we’re trying to contain the other (frustration).
But what if we need to pay more attention to our frustrations? What if we listened to the anger raging on the inside of us?
* As Alec Baldwin seems to be doing in the picture above.
According to the wisest man who ever lived,
“Frustration is better than laughter.” – Ecclesiastes 7:3
You see, frustration is the experience of feeling held back from the fulfillment of a goal. It’s the pent-up power that fails to find a release due to blockages that are beyond our control. And if we are unable to cope with the exploding emotion, we become an easy prey to lusts, temper, irritability, and emotional despair.
However, frustration and anger can be holy things, and sometimes God’s voice is heard best in it.
Let’s call it, “Holy Frustration.” And I think history has valid examples for the term: Moses was frustrated with the Egyptian abuse, Jesus was frustrated with religion, Mother Theresa was frustrated with selfishness, Nelson Mandela was frustrated with apartheid and Martin Luther King was frustrated with racism.
And I’m glad they listened to those frustrations.
They did not waste their anger in bitterness, they transformed it into action.
So maybe the right question to ask is, What are you frustrated with? What makes you go mad?
Whatever frustrates you the most, you were probably born to change.
Now, most of us give language to our frustration by saying things like:
“The one thing that’s missing in this church is, ___________.”
“I wish my husband was more like, ___________.”
“The problem with Christianity is, ___________.”
“This company would do better if, ___________.”
Frustration is a weapon that can either be use in the service of King Jesus or it can become a tool for the enemy. It is YOUR choice whether it becomes a reason for doubt and rejection or an opportunity to fulfill the, “__________” above.
If you’re frustrated because the woman you married is not the perfect wife, God is inviting the man in you to become the perfect husband (and vice versa).
When you are trying to get your pastors to become the perfect leaders, God is inviting you to become their best disciple. When you are frustrated because your friends and co-workers don’t behave more like you, God is inviting you to become a friend of sinners and bring His Kingdom into their surrounding.
Living out a happy sonship demands you attending to your disappointments. It requires courage and humility. You need to keep your burdens on the shoulders of Jesus and discover the balance of trust and motivation.
Now, some people use the language of “righteous anger” to excuse being a jerk. They even point to Jesus flipping the tables as validation for their destructive ways.
But my question to them is: Are you also willing to die on the cross for the people you correct?
Are you healing them? Preaching the good news to them? Serving them as Jesus serves the church?
If your answer is NO to any one of those questions, then you have lost the right to flip any tables.
As pastor and author Graham Cooke likes to say, “Working with frustration is the key in turning our potential into something actual. Most people are frustrated because they care about something. However, we must allow the Holy Spirit to direct that frustration into something meaningful.”
The issue then is not “being frustrated”, but “how we filter those frustrations.”
We need to pay attention to our frustrations and anger, with the hope that they become an invitation for solutions, for progress, for radical acceptance, for freedom.
We either use them to blame someone or to fix something.
So this is what I suggest: Take a deep breath, and if you’re Feeling Angry or Frustrated? Try this…
- Radically accept your emotions (whether right or wrong) and get in touch with your frustration.
- Repent for allowing frustration to dictate your reactions and your relationships.
- Forgive the people who have frustrated you and forgive yourselves for allowing frustration to kibosh your success.
- Ask yourself, “What’s the invitation in this frustration?”
- Allow the Holy Spirit to help you answer the question.
Whatever is annoying you, God wants to empower (according to His word and character). If you’re frustrated with poverty, start feeding the poor. When you get frustrated with your marriage, then start being romantic. While you’re frustrated with your job, go back to school and find a new passion.
If you’re frustrated with the lack of change, it’s time to become the movement.
The book of Ecclesiastes also talks about enjoying the pleasures of life. Don’t forget to, “Eat, drink and be merry.” But remember to pay attention to your frustrations. Feel them. Forgive those that fuel them. Pray through them.
And trust God to make way for transformation.
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