This is the second post in a series on frustration. View them all here.
Frustration isn’t always bad. I feel like this needs to be said, especially if you dwell in Christian circles for any length of time. Sometimes the “niceness” of Christian organizations (be they churches or anything else) cut off any of this kind of talk. Even as this post is published on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, there is something inside us all that knows part of this world are broken.
The Sound of Frustration
Creation teaches us why we should be frustrated. Paul wrote in in Romans 8:22:
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Groaning is not the sound of satisfaction, it’s the sound of unrest (especially pains of childbirth!). All of creation, not just parts of it, is frustrated with its current state. Why is this? In the previous verses (v. 20, 21) we find that creation has been subjected to futility, bondage and corruption. It is not free as it should be. In fact, many things are not the way it should be. Creation understands this and responds properly in child labor-like cries. Child labor is not composed. This isn’t pretty sounding, probably not very pretty looking, either.
Places of Frustration
There are three main areas where we know things are not the way they should be.
Creation itself was cursed because of mankind’s sin in the beginning. Hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis all wreak havoc, cause damage and bring death. There is a regularity of nature we can depend on, but its disruptions are deadly.
Other people, be they close to or far from us can cause deep frustration. From broken down family relationships to authoritarian bosses to owners of child slaves this world is filled with people who use others or creation for their own selfish gain.
But before we only point the finger outward, what if we take that frustrated passion and look within? Everyone else fails, but so do we. Many people take advantage of others, and so do we.
Everywhere we look, we can see brokenness. Those who do bad things are often rewarded and those who do good things aren’t rewarded enough. When we take a few minutes to think about these things, how can we not be frustrated?
The Good News of Frustration
But just as child pains anticipate a glorious ending, our frustration has a glorious ending as well. Romans 8:23 says that, like creation, we groan inwardly. We are waiting for our complete adoption, when our bodies will be made whole. For those who are in Christ, this is the glorious ending that we are looking forward to. This is, as Paul puts in the next verse, our hope.
Our future hope in the glorious ending gives us our present frustration. Hope is what causes our groaning. If we have hope, we will have frustration. Hope is looking forward to what is not grasped yet, but one day will be.
Frustration is a necessary part of the Christian life. All humans should be frustrated when noticing that this world has many broken parts. Christians especially should affirm and feel this frustration as it’s a promised part of our faith and experience. It’s also an indicator of our hope.