Frustrated To No End


In his book “A Call to Spiritual Reformation,” New Testament scholar D. A. Carson writes about a wonderful man of God and servant of Jesus Christ Bishop Stanway. Bishop Stanway had been an instrument in God’s hands in furthering the work of God in East Africa, where in Tanzania alone he helped start twenty dioceses. Upon retirement there was no retirement as he proceeded to help establish a theological college in North America. D. A. Carson writes of him in these terms: ‘But when I met him, he had returned to his native Australia and Parkinson disease had so debilitated him that he could no longer talk. He communicated by writing on a pad of paper, more precisely he could no longer write, but printed his answers in scarcely legible block letters. By the time I got to know him a little, I felt emboldened to ask him how he was coping with his crippling disease. He had been active and productive throughout his life; how was he handling being shunted aside? He had to print out his answer on that pad of paper three times before I could read it: “There is no future in frustration.”’ Carson adds: ‘Bishop Stanway would not allow himself the luxury of frustration. He lived with eternity’s perspective before him and frustration plays no part there. He simply had not tied his ego to his service, so that when the active, fruitful forms of service he had enjoyed for decades were withdrawn, he himself was not threatened. He could still trust in his Master and pursue what was best with the constraints imposed on him.’

Oh, that we would all learn that “there is no future in frustration.” Life undoubtedly can be a frustrating experience. Paul in Romans speaks of a world subject to frustration and futility (Rom. 8:20). The fact is that we can be frustrated by a body that does not fully function, by uncooperative people, by bad timing, by plans that fail, by circumstances that work against us, and by our own innate stupidity. To live is to face frustration, and to strive is to risk frustration. But Bishop Stanway would remind us that while frustration is part of life, we must not allow it to become a lifestyle. There is no future in frustration. While frustration is an inescapable element of the human experience, we must not let it take root in our lives. By God’s grace we can frustrate life’s attempts to frustrate us. 

One, fighting frustration involves enjoying what you can (Eccles. 9:7-9). In life there are things to endure but there are many things to enjoy. For example, Solomon recommends that we get dressed up and go out and have a nice meal with our loved ones. Two, fighting frustration involves educating ourselves on contentment (Phil. 4:10-13). Paul never allowed adverse circumstances and frustrating setbacks to drain him of his belief that Christ was enough for any situation. Three, fighting frustration involves expecting a better day (Rom. 8:18-25). According to this text, present groaning must never be divorced from the hope of later glory. The weight of our future blessings in heaven in glorified bodies has the ability to squash and defeat the things that would presently frustrate us. Four, fighting frustration involves encouraging others (2 Cor. 1:3-7). One of the best ways to frustrate frustration is not to waste your sorrow. Learn something about God and His grace in the school of suffering and then share it with a fellow classmate. But whatever you do, don’t become an accomplice to your own frustration!