January 23rd, 2021

Unfulfilled objectives

By Submitted Article on May 9, 2020.


First of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

Frustration is mounting about the limitations on human freedom caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Protesters in America apparently prefer the virus above the hardships of the lockdown and its consequential unemployment. They feel that the cure is worse than the illness.

Widespread frustration about lockdowns may put pressure on authorities to ease restrictions too soon, causing a worse second wave of infection.

Dictionaries give up to 18 synonyms for “frustration.” These can have three meanings: (a) the blocking of a desire, (b) the cause of the blockage, and (c) the resulting feelings about the blockage. In the present situation, the three are: lockdown, virus and irritation.

Although there may be good reasons for frustration, this vexing condition may spur people to impulsive and unwise actions.

The subjective feeling of frustration may be a mixed bag of disappointment, helplessness and anger.

Ancient Israel’s bondage in Egypt made them cry out to God in frustration (Ex. 2:23, 3:7). God answered them by devising their liberation under Moses.

In the desert, they were often frustrated by hunger and thirst, and vented their feelings on poor old Moses, who was just as helpless as they were. God got frustrated with the stiff-necked, grumbling people and wanted to exterminate them more than once (Ex. 32:9-10). Squeezed between people and God, Moses was frustrated about his misery (Num. 11:10-15).

Israel was frustrated by eating the same old manna every day – morning, noon, and night – for 40 years! (Imagine eating only baked beans for that time!) They yearned for some decent meat for a change (Num. 11, 21). Frustrated by their ingratitude, God gave them a surplus of quail and serpents.

In the time of the Judges, Israel was robbed year after year of their crops by the Midianites. Put yourself in their place. In utter frustration, they called out to the Lord, who used Gideon to free them from the foreign oppression.

In ancient times, the siege of a walled city could cause great want and intense frustration. Most cities had a secret underground water supply, but food got so scarce that they ate anything, even resorting to cannibalism (2 Kings 6:28-29).

The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah were frustrated by their fruitless work and the negative reaction of the people (Is. 6:10, 53:1, Jer. 15:10, 20:9).

Jesus was treated the same way. Although thousands streamed to him for healing and food, they did not change their lives. They wanted the gifts, not the Giver.

Therefore, Jesus pronounced a curse on the towns in which most of his miracles occurred (Matt. 11:21-24, Luke 10:13-15). He said that if the same deeds were performed in Sodom, it would have repented.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem because they did not understand his mission. (Luke 19:28-45).

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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