They eat away our peace, disrupt us with fear, even distress our countenance.
They are disappointments.
As much as we’d like to think otherwise, disappointments also are measures of faith, prospects for maturity and reminders of eternity.
That’s the good news. Life’s disappointments need not be useless to us. We can trust God will use them for his good purposes. Like a master craftsman, God is able to work with life’s worst materials to make something good.
As preachy as that sounds, I was recently refreshed by this truth in a conversation with new friends who know all about disappointment. Both survived Nazi occupations of their respective countries, and both credit God – not fate – for bringing them together after World War II and redeeming their very difficult childhood experiences.
The Bible begs us to keep God’s redemptive purposes in mind as we endure disappointments: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God,” says Romans 8, “(those who) … are called according to his purpose for them.”
Here is a truth Christians can stand on when overwrought. Here is a truth we must take with us, and keep at the forefront of our thinking, because life so often is difficult and perplexing. Here is a truth that shines light into the darkness of life’s disappointments.
A few days ago, another friend vented his frustration about this fall’s presidential election. Like a lot of Christians, he views this election’s ballot choices with profound disappointment.
After a few minutes’ conversation – commiseration, really – we brought our thinking in line with God’s thinking, spelled out plainly in Scripture:
“He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,” says Isaiah 40. God is sovereign over this Earth he created; nothing occurs outside of his control. It is his Earth. Always has been.
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,” says Jeremiah 17, “… who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord.” Putting all of my hope in people is folly, a shortcut to disappointment.
“Count it all joy … when you meet trials of various kinds,” says James 1, “… for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Faith is a muscle that grows with exercise. Trusting in God through life’s disappointments strengthens our faith.
“(God) has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago,” says Ephesians 2. The Christian’s view of life places God at the center, not self, and works outward. We exist for God, not the other way around.
“God will wipe away every tear … and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away,” says Revelation 20. One day, Christian friend, all disappointments will at best be known to us as “the former things.” Today’s trials can train us to keep our gaze upward.
Has a disappointment interrupted you lately?
Be assured it need not be wasted. Be assured you can grow stronger through it. And be assured it will not get the last word.
The Psalms are, in many ways, Scripture’s hymn book for disappointed people. They identify with our disappointments, but don’t leave us without help. We do well to be familiar with their words.
“Happy is he,” says Psalm 146, “whose hope is in the Lord his God.”
Steve Massey is pastor of Hayden Bible Church (www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or email@example.com.
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