Frustrated!

As I began to write this article today on “Frustration” my WIFI network crashed. Instantly, all access to my bog-site, youtube videos for illustration, catchy quotes on wiki-quotes – all gone.

WHY DOES THIS ALWAYS HAPPEN TO ME!!! THIS IS SO FRUSTRAT….

Oh. Wait. There it is, the frustration monster rearing its fuming head.

It doesn’t take much, just one little nudge, and the plans of mice and men have gone awry.

How frustrating.

How fitting that the network would crash, frustrating my efforts to accomplish my goal That’s the verb form of the word. As a noun, frustration is the feeling of irritation or annoyance because of an inability to achieve one’s goals.

What frustrates me? Here’s the quick list:

Choppy internet connections

People who don’t know how to drive, especially at roundabouts

source-1

Constant interruptions that keep me from what I’m doing

Having to deal with the same problems over and over again

My own inability to live up to the standards that I have set for myself.

Now, if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that all of these, even the internet thing, all stem from my sense of self-importance and entitlement.  People should drive better so they don’t slow me down. Why can’t you do what I told you the first time, the way I told you to. An honest self-critique reveals that I am frustrated most when others don’t do things like I would do them, when my own lack of power and control i exposed, when I realize, once again, that I am not God.

Of course, the scriptures reveal the genuine source of my frustration – my own disobedience and willfulness. In Deuteronomy 28 God warns of His curse upon those who do not obey the voice of the Lord, that he will send confusion and frustration upon them. In Job 5, we are told that the Lord frustrates the plans of the crafty. In Psalm 33:10 we read that God frustrates the plans of the peoples, but the council of the Lord stands forever.

Frustration is evidence that even still His ways are not my ways; that I must continue to die to myself and follow after the Lord.  It is proof that the old man in me, though slain by grace (for I have been crucified with Christ), still rears and rages from time to time.

So what is the solution to my frustration.  Here are some quick thoughts.

  1. “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). My frustration comes primarily when I am full of myself, insisting upon my ways, and putting myself in the place of God. When I sense frustration building, it is a good reminder to humble myself in the sight of the Lord, to know that He is Sovereign and I am not.  And that’s a very good thing. Nothing can frustrate His councils, not even my own weaknesses and shortsightedness. “He who has begun a good work in you is faithful to bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).
  2. Let Love for God and Neighbor Replace A sense of pride and arrogance.  1 Corinthians 13 teaches, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.” These characteristics of love are the exact opposite of frustration.  Let love for God and one another be that which soothes and abates the fires of frustration.
  3. Preach the Gospel to Yourself. Simply trying to replace frustration with love would end up making me more frustrated, because that would be a works-based remedy, and remember, the source of frustration is making myself the center of everything. No, the best cure for my frustrations is always the gospel.  Knowing that Jesus has taken my sin, my brokenness, my failures, my shame, and died upon the cross for me, so that by faith in Him I have new life; this is my hope and peace. Now, if ever there was someone who had a right to be frustrated, wouldn’t it be Jesus?  He is the righteous One, who never sinned, but was sinned against by all, and bore the sins of the world upon His cross. Yet as Hebrews 12:2 reminds us, he, “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” By His grace I am delivered from the curse of frustration of the old life, and raised to joyful life in the Spirit.  Proverbs 3:5-6 teaches, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.  Feeling frustrated? Turn to, and trust in, Jesus Christ for your salvation. He will make your paths straight!

SDG

PS – Here’s the video I thought I’d share on Frustration – can’t help it, it’s Ray Romano and Grover.

In the School of Prayer

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)

There is a scene from Shakespeare’s Hamlet in which Hamlet plans to kill his uncle Claudius, but cannot because Claudius is praying, and Hamlet would not want Claudius’ soul to be cleansed and rise to heaven. Setting aside the unbiblical and misguided understanding of salvation, what has always resonated with me in this scene in Claudius’ comment after he rises from prayer. In great irony, Claudius has found no comfort in prayer, saying, “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below” (III.iii.96). His prayers have been insincere, ineffective, and his soul remains unchanged in prayer.

Often have I shared this feeling when rising from prayer.  I draw near to the Lord, but feel my words have merely bounced around the room; never penetrating the roof, much less the throne room of grace. How can I be prepared for an eternity before God in His new Heaven and new Earth, when I grow weary after 15 minutes in prayer?

Spiritual disciplines require a similar approach in training as physical disciplines.  If you want to run a marathon, you start by running 1 mile. If you want to grow in prayer, then you must start praying.  Pray, seeking God’s Holy Spirit to give you the words to pray, to give you a spirit of prayer, to increase your passion for praying.  The old puritans taught, “pray until you pray.”

So I’ve decided this year to enroll myself in the school of prayer.  To sit under the teaching of God’s Word, reading and studying the prayers of scripture to increase my heart for prayer.  I’ve picked up a couple of books on prayer, and some collections of puritan prayers, and those will help – but the most important part is simply to pray.

I was reminded recently that prayer is not the work of the Church, it is the very heart of the Church. Without prayer there is no connection with God, no seeking His face, no being led by His Spirit. Without prayer, all the labors of the Church are in vain. So let us then ask the Lord to teach us to pray; and may we know the great power of prayer as it is working (James 5:16).

I’ve added here some of the bullet points from the opening chapter of D.A. Carsons, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Prioritiees from Paul and His Prayers (Baker Books, 1992, Grand Rapids, MI) Digital Copy.

  1. Much praying is not done because we do not plan to pray. We do not drift into spiritual life; we do not drift into disciplined prayer. we will not grow in prayer unless we plan to pray.
  2. Adopt practical ways to impede mental drift. Vocalize your prayers, pray over the scriptures, make prayer lists, journal your prayers – find ways to keep your mind focused on the act of prayer.
  3. At varies periods in your life, develop, if possible, a prayer partnership. Seek someone to teach you to pray, or someone you can teach. Prayer-partner relationships are as valuable for the discipline, accountability and regularity they engender as for the lessons that are shared.
  4. Choose models – but choose them well. Listen to others pray. Read books of prayer. Study their content, their breadth, their passion, their unction – but do not ape their idiom.
  5. Develop a system for prayer lists. Whatever the system, use prayer lists.
  6. Mingle praise, confession, and intercession; but when you intercede, try to tie as many request as possible to Scripture. One of the most important elements in intercession is to think through, in the light of Scripture, what it is God wants us to ask for.
  7. If you are in any form of spiritual leadership, work at your public prayers. Public prayer ought to be the overflow of one’s private praying.
  8. Pray until you pray. Pray long enough and honestly enough that you get past the feeling of formalism and unreality that attend not a little praying.