Scripture(1 Peter 1:6 & 7 KJV) Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for
a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the
trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth,
though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at
the appearing of Jesus Christ:
I want to begin with this quote from Philip Yancy's book Where is God When it Hurts.
"My anger about pain has melted mostly for one reason: I have come to know God. He has given me joy and love and happiness and goodness. They have come in unexpected flashes, in the midst of my confused imperfect world, but they have been enough to convince me that my God is worthy of trust. Knowing Him is worth all enduring."
I have been led this week to write about disappointment, or better yet overcoming disappointment. I believe we all can benefit from the wisdom of God's word in this area. Whether it is a small thing like disappointment over a Christmas gift or if it is a life long disappointment. Some people are disappointed with themselves. Some may be disappointed with their jobs. Someone may be disappointed with his or her family. It may be one of your parents that has let you down or both. It may be your children that have disappointed you. It could be your finances, your health, your relationships, it could be great or it could be small but what ever the case God has the answer for you and the other side of disappointment is heaven itself.
The first thing I want us to understand is that God does not expect us to delight in our hardships. One of the most misunderstood passages of scripture is James 1:2 that instructs us to count it all joy when we fall into many different trials and temptations. Some would think that means we should embrace the pain of our disappointments and setbacks. There are two ways you can look at this passage one way celebrates the pain and suffering of our struggle; the other celebrates the opportunity for growth introduced by the struggle. If I were to have one overall proposition for this weeks message it would be that effect of our disappointments are completely dependent upon our ultimate focus. Look at the word disappointment. If you take the word apart it is really the word appointment preceded by the prefix dis, which means to counter or undo the word that follows. So then disappointment is the undoing of any given or hoped upon appointment. In other words our expectations were not met for one reason or another.
Now unanswered expectations can get us to do one of two things. It can
make us work harder to achieve our own expectations or it will make us lower our
expectations in order for us to not be disillusioned. I somehow come to think
that the opposite of disappointment is contentment. Let's read what the apostle
Paul said about being content. Now, there is a huge gulf between being content
and being complacent. Paul was talking about being satisfied with the conditions
of life that came his way. He goes on to say how he has learned the secret of
being content in any and every situation. This is a man who was in prison, he
was stoned, he was shipwrecked, persecuted and punished for the gospel of Jesus
Christ. He had some thorn in the flesh that kept him humble for which he
learned how the grace of God was sufficient and through our weakness God can
demonstrate His strength. As Paul continues in this i1si chapter of Philippians
(Phil 4:13 KJV) I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
So how are we then to over come this disappointment and become content without becoming complacent? Again it comes back to our focus. What does it really mean to love the LORD with all your heart and with all your soul with all your might? What does is really mean to make Jesus Christ the LORD of your life? What does it mean to diligently seek Him and His kingdom? I will tell you this much when you finally get the answer to the above questions the things of this world will not stress you out as they had before. Discontent, distress, disenchantment, displeasure and disappointment all dance round and round within the whirlpool of our lives. And then there is only one way to overcome it and that is by changing our focus. I have written in the past on the laws of thermal dynamics and how everything is spiraling towards chaos. Entropy can be measured in every area of life except the soul. All our disappointments, all our pain, all our frustrations and regrets can either lead us down the wide path to destruction or we can willingly choose to suffer endure the pain as we keep our eyes firmly fixed on the narrow gate which leads to eternal life in glory. And it is our struggle that indeed makes the prize that much more rewarding.
It was Augustine that wrote the following words:
"What is it therefore, that goes on within the soul, since it takes greater delight if things that it loves are found or restored to it then if it had always possessed them?"
Paul put it this way: (2 Corinthians 7:10 KJV) For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
The fact is a lot of things in life are just not fair. Sickness and disease are not fair. Poverty and depression are not fair. Death is not fair, yet to us all it comes. If the word disappointed is to be overcome then we must over come our ultimate appointment, which is death. FOR IT IS APPOINTED ONTO MAN ONCE TO DIE. And then, the judgment. Yet for the believer the sting of death itself has been plucked from the enemy’s arsenal. The judgment has been passed and we have been found guilty. The penalty was death and payment was made in full. For God Himself found so much worth in you that He paid it all so you could never again have to stay in that place of disappointment and despair. But you can rise out of the pit dug by the enemy and the very Spirit of God can renew you. That same Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave is available to you today. That same Spirit that washed away your sins on that day you first believed can fill you to the overflowing again. And that disappointment and pain that you went through or may even be still in the midst of today, that will become the dust which you tread upon as you walk closer to Him.
Leo Tolstoy wrote that “it is by those who have suffered that the world has been advanced.” Never believe for a minute that that you will become so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good. That is a lie from the pit, for the closer you get to the Father the more you will become like the Son and more you become like the Son the more you will do for your fellow man. God knows that you have in some way suffered unjustly. Yet even in this injustice He asks that you forgive. Forgiveness may just be the key that unlocks the fear, which has been holing unto all this disappointment. As we go after God with all our hearts and sincerely make Jesus our LORD His words His works and His death speak to us forgiveness. Forgive those who have trespassed against us as He has forgiven us. Then forgive yourself. Accept the price paid. It is called grace and it is awesome.
So I think it comes down to discovering your true appointment. Maybe what you are disappointed in wasn't appointed unto you. Maybe God has a better plan. Then again maybe God's plan is one of struggle and pain for the next 50 years or so. Would eternity be worth it to you? I almost asked you to close your eyes, but if you did you wouldn't be able to read what was next. OK, when we go into prayer. After I write amen close your eyes and take in a deep breath of life. God really wants you to enjoy your life. He gave it to you as a gift. He is right there beside you now lighting the way to Him. You see, not only did He die for your sins but He rose again and now give you that second chance at life. Every day we can experience the resurrection power of Jesus Christ in our lives as we trade in our sorrow for the joy of the LORD. Oh, and that secrete that Paul learned of being content no matter what, That's easy. Well, I'll tell you what you write me back with your answer and then I will give you mine. I will end today with the writings of Aeschylus:
Pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop
upon the heart
until in our despair
there comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.