Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
January 13, 2019
Disappointments need not be the end of the world
Disappointment – the painful gap between our expectations and reality. We all experience it. Things don’t work out the way we had expected. Sadness saddles us with a feeling of loss. We curse the darkness, shouting the timeless phrase of the ages – Life is not fair!
Disappointment can destroy us. We see it everywhere. Bob is an example. He and Betty fell in love. Got married. Had three children. But Bob and Betty drifted apart. A slave to his work, Bob neglected Betty. She fell in love with another man. Left Bob crying in the ashes of disappointment.
Or take Bill. His father was a preacher. Bill’s mother encouraged him to follow in his dad’s footsteps. Bill became a preacher but found no peace in ministry. Finally, he admitted to himself that his mother, not God, had called him to preach. Crushed and disappointed, Bill quit the ministry and began looking for another job.
Then there is Tom. Began college but flunked out the first year. Ashamed and disappointed, he got a job driving a milk truck. Devastated, angry, Tom’s major was now misery. He was generous, shared his misery with everyone he met.
Mary dreamed of becoming an artist. She loved to draw and paint. Friends encouraged her to study art. But alas, there was no money to go to school. She got married, had six children and buried her dream in the black pit of disappointment.
Pete felt no need to go to college. After high school he went to work at his dad’s company. He figured if he worked hard, he could take over the business one day. Then his dad died suddenly. The new owner of the business had no need for Pete. Without a job and angry, Pete wallowed in the misery of disappointment.
Charles and Linda got married. Linda had a beautiful baby boy. They named him Ralph. He became the center of their lives. At age 17 Ralph was killed in a car wreck. Charles began drinking heavily and soon left Linda for a younger woman. Linda became a recluse, let grief consume her. Disappointment enslaved her.
Disappointment can seem like the end of the world. But it need be! It can become the doorway to a new beginning. Disappointment can show us things about ourselves, and about others, that we need to know. Disappointment can help us find a new direction for our lives. It all depends on how we view disappointment and how we handle it.
Faith can make a difference but faith does not save us from disappointments. Saint Paul had great faith but he had to endure many severe disappointments. He was brutally beaten several times, chained and jailed, and finally executed. So what is the value of faith? Faith helps us endure disappointments and saves us from losing hope and surrendering to despair.
When disappointments come, faith helps us remember that God loves us and is ready to help us endure pain, loss and failure. When my friend Carolyn was dying, I took her hand and said, “Carolyn, I have come to tell you that I love you, and God loves you, and nothing will be able to separate you from the love of God which we have found in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is what I hope someone will say to me when I am dying. That will give me peace.
Faith helps us remember that even in pain we are not alone. God is with us! Jesus promised that he would never forsake us. Through faith, we can hear God say to us what he said once to Isaiah: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” In the pit of my own disappointments, I have heard God say that to me and it changed everything! I found the strength to get up and go again!
Faith can become the channel through which God gives us the grace to persevere, to refuse to give up. Strong faith in God can enable us to keep on praising God instead of moaning and groaning. We may be in the “jail” of disappointment but like Paul and Silas, we can stop complaining and start singing at midnight! Such faith may flower in us and allow us to join with Saint Paul in declaring that “We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him.”
King David, the Bible tells us, dreamed of building a temple to honor God. He intended to do it but he stayed busy going to war. He loved to fight and was good at it. Then one day, God informed David that he would not build a temple; instead his son Solomon would build it. God was not pleased with David’s love of wars. David’s disappointment was overwhelming.
But David found a way to overcome his disappointment. He refused to quit. He refused to live the rest of his life nursing bitterness. Call it trust. Call it faith. Call it turning to God. Call it what you will – David found a way to move out of the paralyzing fog of disappointment and start over.
What helped David we call grace today. When the bottom falls out, when dreams are shattered by disappointment, we can turn to the Lord for grace. He has plenty of it, enough that everyone can have some. He gives graciously to all who ask. Disappointment is real but grace is more real.
So here is the bottom line. When disappointment seizes you by the throat, tell it to go back to hell where it came from. Then ask the Lord to give you the grace you need to make a new start. That’s the way to make disappointment the doorway to a new beginning. I know you can do it because I have done it more than once. And more than likely I will have to do it again. And, by the grace of God, I will.
You can do it too. When you make a new start, you cease being a victim and become a victor! Disappointment makes you a wimp. Grace makes you a winner. You get to decide which you will be! + + +