Summary: Frustration means that we forget about others in our need to do what we want, and it means we are tempted to abandon God’s way. The model is Jesus, whose obedience gave Him the ultimate accomplishment.
God must have a sense of humor, don’t you think? God must do some things just because they are fun to do!
Several years ago, I thought I saw God’s funny bone at work overtime. Margaret and J were members of Luther Rice Memorial Baptist Church in Silver Spring, and I was serving as the chairman of the Missions Committee. It was during the time when there had been floods of Southeast Asians coming to this country, so our church had sponsored quite a few of them. There were so many Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians coming, and there was such a need, that we persuaded the Baptist Home Mission Board to send us a missionary to work with these folks. Some of you know him, Rev. Joshua Tran. He’s still here, still serving as a missionary to this population.
Well, I recall the Sunday morning when Rev. Tran arrived and was introduced to our church. He had been in this country several years, doing his seminary studies and serving in another city, and so he had learned to speak English, more or less.
Now you may know that many Asians have trouble with some of the sounds in the English language. Asians have trouble with what we call the liquid consonants, "L" and "R". "L" and "R" are formed with the mouth and the tongue in almost the same, position, and it’s hard for many Asians to get them right. You’ve heard the old jokes about "fried rice” becoming "flied lice", and so on.
Well, the Lord in His good humor really poured it on us that day, because here was this bright young man, trying to make a little speech of greeting, and, first of all, the Lord had brought him to a church named "Luther Rice Memorial". Brother Tran worked on that one for a while. And then we introduced him to the chairman of the special committee set up for this ministry. Guess what the chairman’s name was: Larry Rollins. Poor Joshua! He tried. "Rarry Rorrins at Ruer Ris Memoryar Chuch". He knew that wasn’t right, and he tried again. Five "L’s" and five "R’s"! "Rrry rrns at Rr Rs". The “Memorial Church” part he just dropped completely. We couldn’t avoid giggling, even if it was out there in church, in front of God and everybody. Brother Tran tried one more time, "RRR. RRR." He frowned. Then he smiled. And putting his hands together, he silently bowed to everybody in sight!
Now that’s called frustration! Frustration is trying so hard to do what you know you want to do, and just not being able to make it work. Frustration is being put on the line to achieve something, you’ve promised to achieve it, you’ve been told you must achieve it. But the harder you try, the worse things get. The more energy you put into it, the farther the goal slips from you. As Pogo Possum said it in the old cartoon, "The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get." That’s frustration.
And some of us are stuck in frustration. Some of us have made being frustrated not just a momentary problem, but the pattern of our very lives. Some of us have tried so many times to do, but we just couldn’t do. And we’ve built up a pattern of frustration; we’re stuck in it.
Now I know that you have experienced frustration. Who hasn’t? Who has been able to do everything you’ve set out to do? Think back on those frustrating moments, when all you wanted to achieve just kept slipping through your fingers. What did you feel? What did you do?
When there was a promotion on the job, you kept applying for it, but they insisted on giving the promotions to somebody else. What did you do? Did you feel hate? Did you consider telling a lie ... just a small lie ... about somebody, so that you might get the promotion? Frustration does strange things to us.
You’re a student. That math problem just wouldn’t solve. The answer to that history question just wouldn’t come up out of your subconscious, where you buried it last night during the MTV show. That chemistry experiment just wouldn’t give you the results it was supposed to give. What did you think about doing? Or maybe you did it? You leaned over to "borrow" somebody else’s answer. You wrote down measurements in your lab book that were closer to what should have happened than they were to what did happen. Frustration made you feel like cheating, didn’t it? Frustration does strange things, terrible things to us.
When you get stuck in frustration, it’s sin. And it is death.
Judas Iscariot is a fascinating study in frustration. Here is a man who was trying to get something done. Trying very hard to achieve a goal, but not succeeding. I see Judas as a frustrated man, one whose feelings of frustration pushed him over the edge and into sin and death. Let’s learn from Judas Iscariot what it means to be stuck in frustration.