Frustration is that feeling of impatience and anxiety that we get when we think our needs are not being met or when we deal with seemingly insurmountable problems. Sometimes, God is the focus of our impatience and dissatisfaction—we become frustrated with Him. Frustration with God, His ways and His dealings with us can be a stumbling block for Christians. God could easily handle this problem—why doesn’t He? God knows I have a need—where is He? There are few Christians who have not been frustrated at the Lord for one reason or another at some point in their lives.
Martha is a case in point (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus was visiting her home, and Martha wanted to treat Jesus to a fine meal. Scripture says she “was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” Meanwhile, Martha’s sister, Mary, “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” In her busyness, Martha felt she deserved some help in the kitchen, and her frustration boiled over. She “came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’” Note that Martha was frustrated both with Mary for not helping and with the Lord for allowing Mary to be “lazy.” Jesus calmed His friend: “‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things.’” He then took the opportunity to teach a lesson on being still and knowing God (cf. Psalm 46:10)—a lesson we forget when we are frustrated.
Another well-known story is that of Jonah. He, too, knew what it was to be frustrated with the Lord. Jonah heard from God, but he didn’t like what he heard (Jonah 1:1-3a). After reluctantly proclaiming God’s message to the Ninevites, Jonah was convinced that they would not listen and that he would have the satisfaction of seeing them slaughtered by a vengeful God. To Jonah’s chagrin, the Ninevites responded with repentance and humility toward God (Jonah 3:5-10). Jonah was frustrated. His sense of justice conflicted with God’s mercy. To make matters worse, the leafy plant under which Jonah had been taking shade was withered by God, leaving Jonah exposed to the blazing sun (Jonah 4:7). Jonah’s frustration mounted to the point of wanting to die (Jonah 4:9). God had to remind His angry prophet that his perspective was wrong: Jonah cared more for an insentient plant than for a great city full of people. Frustration can cloud our vision and choke our compassion.
Is it wrong to be frustrated with God? Yes, it is. Frustration is a product of our sinful human nature. Frustration with God could be evidence of a lack of trust in Him or a misunderstanding of who He is. If God is perfect—and the Bible says He is (Psalm 18:30)—then He has perfect intentions, perfect timing, perfect methods, and perfect results. As we focus our minds on the Lord and trust in Him, we will know peace, not frustration (Isaiah 26:3).
Our frustration with God could be a byproduct of our own stubbornness. When our ambitions conflict with God’s purposes, we will naturally be frustrated. It is never advisable to fight against God. Saul of Tarsus learned this lesson the hard way, and Jesus had to remind him, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14). A simple prayer of humble submission gives far greater comfort than stubbornly insisting on our plans.
God tells earthly fathers, “Do not exasperate your children” (Colossians 3:21). Certainly, God does not wish to exasperate His own children. When we feel frustrated with God, it is due to a lack of understanding on our part, not any lack on God’s part. The best way to deal with being frustrated with God is to submit to His will, accept His timing, and trust His goodness. “Cast all your anxiety [and your impatience and frustration] on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).