Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

March 16, 2017 / By: Joel Nichols

Our frustation can be a door to greater relationship with God.

Jer 17:5-10/Lk 16:19-31

What should we do when we are really frustrated with God? Is there a place within our Lenten journey for us to be disappointed, upset, tired of waiting, or even angry with God? Lent is a time of fasting and repentance – so do we also need to surrender and repent of those feelings in this season?

On the one hand, it seems perhaps that we should say yes. Often our frustration arises from thinking about ourselves and our own predicament, whatever that may be. But it is exactly that self-centered (or even merely just self-focused) way of being that Lent tries to pull us out of. When we focus on ourselves in this time it should be about the wrongs that we have done and things we have left undone – and not on how things aren’t right for us. Thinking about repentance and fasting, and practicing almsgiving and serving the poor (as in the Gospel reading for today), help draw us into the life of God. In this context, focusing on our own frustration and disappointment could be a misplaced distraction from thinking about how to more closely align our lives with God’s.

On the other hand, surely there’s space in every moment and time of our life for the deepest emotions: mourning, frustration, anger, and more. Surely God’s heart is big enough to encompass our frustrations and call us closer into His love, spacious enough to hear our worries and welcome us over and over again. And surely our frustration can be a door to greater relationship with God, where we are free to lodge our complaints about the way things are compared to the way things should be. That’s true even if the inequity is focused on us, and even more so if our care for the not-right-ness of the situation of others drives our frustration.

If we have to choose (and it’s not clear we must), I’ll err on claiming a role in faith for frustrations, a place in our journey for feeling those emotions and even airing them to God. After all, Lent reminds us that not all is right. Not all is fair. Not all is just. We await a time when it will be. Come, Lord Jesus.

Joel Nichols
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor
School of Law