Frustration is what happens when reality does not meet our expectations. All of us relate to this experience.
For some people it is the search for a job. You remember complaining about your old job but any job is better than no job. You have filled out countless applications, wrote cover letters, and even followed up with the hiring manager. Yet it seems as if your search is hopeless… you still have not found employment and are deeply anxious about the bills that continue to pile up.
For many it is the search for a spouse. Singleness is (wrongly) viewed by many people – especially Christians – as a second-class life. You understand what it’s like to go home each day and not have another person to talk through the events of the day with. At times you are overwhelmed with loneliness… at other times you are filled with anger – towards God, life, and circumstances.
For some couples, it is the expectation of having a baby. You got married and began dreaming about your first child – even picking out a room in the home for the nursery. Yet, after years of trying to have children, you are unable to conceive. Frustration is an understatement.
Still for others it’s a marriage that is falling apart… a child that has strayed from the faith… or dreams/career plans that failed to pan out.
This is an emotion and reality I have been wrestling with lately. It’s almost been a year since we launched Renovation Church. My honest expectation is that after a year we would have 80 – 100 people in attendance and the financial means to hire full-time staff.
It seems like the opposite happened. I do not know all the reasons but many people have left our church in the past year – some for good reasons… some for reasons I do not even know. It seems that the momentum and excitement that was with us in the beginning has stalled.
Here is a thought that has continually resurfaced as I have preached through the Gospel of John for the past year:
Jesus was crucified for not meeting expectations.
When Jesus arrived on the scene and many people concluded he was the long-awaited Messiah, they expected Jesus to be a military hero. They believed the Messiah would come, overthrow the Roman Empire, and set up an earthly kingdom that would bring about unparalleled prosperity.
Instead, they got a leader who had no interest in an earthly kingdom. They got a leader who constantly talked about dying and ended up being crucified at the age of 33. The religious leaders shouted, “Crucify him” because He did not meet their expectations.
We still crucify Jesus for not meeting our expectations. When a church doesn’t grow, we blame Jesus. When our marriage suffers, we blame Jesus. When we can’t find a spouse, we blame Jesus.
What if the greatest gift Jesus could give us is more of Himself? What if the Giver is far more desirable than the gifts and one of the ways he shows this to us is by stripping away the very things we thought would bring us happiness?
So what am I doing to drum up momentum in my church? Am I starting a brand new sermon series? Am I going to begin a building campaign? Am I going to try to hire more staff?
I am going to faithfully follow Jesus in the way of the cross. Success in the Kingdom of God is defined by faithfulness, not Sunday morning attendance.
So what about you? Are you feeling frustrated today? How might God be using your frustrations to bring about greater holiness in your life and draw you closer to Him?
Friends, I do not know the answer to your frustration. What I do know is that God is good, God is present, and God loves you. Draw near to him today and He will draw near to you.