Imagine devoting your life to trying to do something that could never be accomplished. Suppose your mission in life were to stop the sun from coming up each day. We can safely predict how that would work out for you. Every day. Leave you feeling pretty frustrated, I suspect. What if instead of becoming frustrated with your lack of progress at the impossible, you simply quit trying?

One reason you may be feeling frustrated is that you’re trying to do what can’t be done — at least not by you.

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Maybe you feel like King Saul. That’s right, the bitter, dissilusioned, psychotic king of Israel back in the day who was — to put it mildly — a bit frustrated. Most readers will know the story well. After his own sinful behavior, Saul lost the promise of the throne when God removed it from his heirs and gave it to David, the whipper-snapper giant-killer. Saul was none too pleased. He devoted his entire existence to trying to kill David. But Jonathan, Saul’s son who got quite good at dodging spears himself, reveals something quite telling about Saul:

And he [Johnathan] said to him [David], “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” (1 Sam. 23:17 emphasis mine)

So Saul knew David would be the next king. It was a done deal in Saul’s mind. He confirms as much later. (1 Sam. 24:20) Nevertheless, Saul still focused every fiber of his being to trying to stop it from happening.  He knew it was inevitable, but he devoted his life to stopping it. No wonder he became so frustrated. Apparently, envy knows no sanity.

Lest you think it’s only the unstable and paranoid-delusional that struggle with being frustrated trying to do what can’t be done, consider Solomon. Yep, that one — wisest guy on earth and all that. Turns out wise and smart are not synonyms after all. After Solomon married a thousand women and pursued their false gods, God promised to take most of the kingdom from him, as well, and give it to Jeroboam. Solomon didn’t take that news well either. Although he knew it was beyond his capacity to change the decree of God — being wise and all — he also devoted his life to seeing Jereboam killed. Oh, the frustrating irony considering Solomon’s father was David.

Desperate people do stupid things.

Think of Peter flailing away in the garden as Jesus is betrayed. Or Jonah hopping on a ship. Or any of a hundred sordid tales from the today’s headlines of spouses or parents who snapped and killed those closest to them.

But we are all desperate at times. We all get frustrated when we try to do what can’t be done. So we all do stupid things.

Sure, we might not hurl spears at our children, but we fire verbal missles that wound more deeply. We might not consult with witches to summon the spirit of a dead prophet as Saul later did, but we seek counsel from humanistic sources to deal with our frustration. We might not try to kill those that trigger the frustration — not physically anyways — but we harbor bitterness that oozes out of us whenever opportunity knocks. Maybe lately it’s been knocking often.

Why do we do these things? Could it be we’re feeling frustrated trying to do what can’t be done? There’s an endless supply of impossible things we might be attempting. Here are a few common ones that can frustrate us when we think it’s within our power to do them:

  • Changing our spous’s heart
  • Making our kids love God — or us
  • Pleasing eveyone.
  • Denying the aging process.
  • Getting someone to forgive you. Or like you.

The list can be endless, but I suspect we all have a few we’re chasing. And we’re frustrated because of it.

Saul did manage to quit trying for a little while. It only happened when David confronted him. Maybe God’s using this post as that message for you. I don’t know. He’s sure using it that way with me.

Are you trying to do what you can’t be done? What seems to cause the most frustration in your own life? Leave a comment with a click here.

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