A couple of weeks ago my oldest son, Harris, came home from school upset because his Saxophone case had his younger brother's name "Philip" written across it. It wasn't just the standard "Philip" emblazoned in ink, but "Philip" with the i's larger than the l, sort of like "phIlIp" -– a sure sign that it was written by his younger sibling if ever there was one. When I asked Philip why he had written his name on his brother's instrument case, Philip denied doing it. Thinking I could get him to confess I pulled out the "God" card, prepared to make this situation instructive. I asked Philip "How do you think God feels about this situation?" Philip replied, "Frustrated..." And that was how I was feeling at that moment too. Instead of feeling confident that I had made my point and taught a valuable lesson of contrition and received the sought after "I'm sorry, mom", I now had an upset older son and on top of that, a younger son who was lying to add to my list of frustrations.
This did, however, make me think about how God must be frustrated much of the time, or at least, could be frustrated with all of us given how we live our lives. I went to the Bible to see if the word "frustrated" was used -- but I could not find it used anywhere in the Bible. So, I went to the thesaurus to see what other words may be synonymous with "frustrated". I checked on those words in the Bible. And, those synonyms weren't found either. I thought "A-Ha! I'll check Al Gore's internet!" And I did. I typed in "God is frustrated", expecting to see a list of potential references or sites where there would be a discussion of how God is frustrated with you, or I, or all of us. Or, with at least some of us. I wasn't disappointed in the quantity of sites returned in the search; there were hundreds. At least, there were hundreds of sites where I could read all about why we humans are frustrated with God, but not one single site, or reference about how God may be frustrated with us. And though I understand how we, as humans, can be frustrated with God, it seems like I would find someplace that discusses God's exasperation at our trivial battles, our silly concerns, or our wanton disregard of His word. Our prayers are not always answered as we would wish them, situations are presented to us that we do not feel equipped to handle, and we sometimes feel that he just isn't listening. And yet, WE seem to be the ones with "frustration". Why is that? Do we have the wrong expectations? Are we misguided? Do we simply want too much?
"But," I think to myself, "the human race has been disobeying God from the beginning. What about that?" Do I have the right to be frustrated with my children, my husband, my neighbors and my God when my God doesn't seem to be frustrated with me? Even though the word "frustrated" itself is not found in the Bible, we all know that God has not been happy with humanity at all times –- remember that He is the one who flooded the earth. But then His Son appeared and died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins through the grace of Jesus Christ. As a parent, one of my biggest frustrations is when my kids do not listen to me –- and I only have four children. God has a whole world. And yet God is prepared to give us everything; salvation, eternal life and abundance. So what am I to learn from this? I think it is that God's grace, even with our failings will be a salvation. Romans 5: 1-5 states that:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, character and hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
So does that mean that God is hopeful for us? I think so. I believe that this is teaching me that even though He knows we are mere mortals and are going to sin, He still believes in us and has hope. He loves us, and forgives us. Wow -– I guess that is advice every parent could use!