Summary: A look at frustration (and its cure) through the eyes of St. Paul in his letter to the Romans.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
How many of you here today have been frustrated in the past week? How many of you have suffered some form of frustration even this morning?
Did anybody pull out in front of you when you were driving here today? Did you have to lay on your horn to avoid a traffic accident or get somebody to move out of the way?
Did you maybe have an argument with your spouse or have to fight with the kids to get up to come to church?
Or perhaps you got here this morning and found that someone was sitting in YOUR seat.
This past week did your boss put some undo responsibility on your back? Did you wonder if you were appreciated at all? At home? At work? At church?
Frustration can come at all levels.
It can be a collective frustration.
Have you been to the airport lately and had to go through the security checks? Have you had to stand in the seemingly never-ending lines to listen to the same question, “Has anybody asked you to carry anything on to the plane? Did you pack your own bags?
Have they been out of your site since you packed them?”
If you think your alone in your frustration, turn around and look at the others in line behind you.
You haven’t been traveling lately? Well are you a sports fan?
Have you ever been a fan of a team that just doesn’t seem to get it done?
Being from Chicago, I had to make an early choice. I could be for the White Sox or I could be for the Cubs. Now, wanting to be for a winner, I became a White Sox fan. They, of course, as most of you know, won the World Series in 1917.
It’s only been a short 84 years since the Championship flag flew above Comiskey Park. The Cubs on the other hand, haven’t won a World Series in 93 years! (and probably never will.)
That’s frustration! In Chicago we just give thanks for the Da’ Bears.
That’s collective frustration.
Sometimes thousands, sometimes millions of people being annoyed, disappointed, aggravated all at the same thing.
But then there is individual frustration.
One quick example. You all know that I love to golf.
I’m sure you also have heard that the reason they call golf “golf” is because all the other four letter words were used up.
I have countless books on “how to” at home and at my office on improving my golf game. I have tapes that show how to hit ‘em long and straight. I have a putting contraption that teaches the proper motion and speed for sinking those long putts.
I’ve read scores of magazines, countless articles.
And yet, when I get out on the course, I inevitably a) hit a ball into the water, b) lose a ball in the weeds, or c) get asked by my fellow players to “just pick it up.”
The thing is, I know how, I just can’t keep all those things straight in my head. When I remember to keep my head down, I forget to follow through. When I follow through, my grip is wrong. When my grip is right and my knees are bent correctly, I swing to fast.
What’s a guy to do?
Those are a few somewhat trivial or humorous examples of frustration.
But frustration can also tear at our hearts. Frustration can mount within us to the point where we feel that no one could love us; no one could forgive us.
That kind of frustration can be compared to the type of frustration we see in the Apostle Paul in our Epistle lesson for this morning.
Paul is angry. He’s mad. He’s outraged!
And it’s not at anyone else, he’s mad at himself.
He starts out in verse 15 by saying something that I think everyone of us can identify with. “I do not understand what I do.”
Now, Paul isn’t talking about his golf game here. He’s not trying to understand why he continues to back a losing team.
He’s talking about something much more important. He’s talking about his life. And in particular, his spiritual life.
He goes on to say, “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do.”
All of us here know right from wrong. Most of us have gone through Confirmation classes. Almost everyone here has been in Sunday School at one point in their life.
We’ve been taught the Ten Commandments. We’ve heard the Law given to us by God.
We know that he doesn’t want us to do certain things. We know that He doesn’t want us to offend our parents or elders. We know that He doesn’t want us to lie, or cheat, or be envious, or steal, or covet, or commit sexual sins, adultery or any of the myriad of other sexual sins.