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.