Saturday, February 09, 2013
Dealing with Disappointment
If you are reading through the Bible this year and following the Thematic Plan, you have just finished Matthew’s Gospel. If you are behind, don’t stress. Hang in there! Try reading an extra assigned passage each day until you catch up. Above all, keep at it.
As we were finishing the Gospel of Matthew, I was, yet again, struck by Peter’s denial of Christ three times during Jesus’ trial. I can’t imagine how Jesus must have felt to have his closest disciple and star pupil turn his back on him not once, but three times.
All of us have faced disappointment in our lives. We may have stories of times when people let us down or failed to follow through on promises. Your story may be one of a co-worker who didn’t pull his or her weight or a spouse who forgot his or her marriage vows. Countless times, we have been in situations where we felt defeated and let down. Sometimes, our anger or hurt led us to sever relationships with others. Other times, the hurt may have been so deep that we turned to God and asked why God allowed the situation to happen.
Situations of hurt, abandonment and disappointment can be either opportunities for spiritual growth or destructive blows to faithful discipleship. The first thing we might need to resist is the natural tendency toward bitterness. Be slow to judge the other person. We can never fully understand what is going on in another’s life or the motivations that may have influenced the behavior. A second step is to seek God in prayer for direction on how to respond. One of the blessings of familiarity with Scripture is the number of examples of how Godly wisdom and righteous responses help pave the road to reconciliation and/or healing. God has all the facts. I believe that if we seek to love others as God loves us (remember this past Sunday’s sermon), we will respond in a way that not only honors the pain of others but helps us act with dignity and integrity. Third, seek to be faithful to what you know is the right thing to do. Sometimes, our tendency to want to inflict the same pain and reprisal is difficult to control. God’s way always contradicts the flesh’s desire for revenge. The knowledge that we are called to act as Christ will often contradict our own desires and even the advice of friends. Finally, keep your focus on God and the higher purpose for your life. We are prone to dwell on our hurts and how they negatively impact our lives. Remember, all things work together for good for those who love and trust the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
There is really only one healthy way to deal with disappointment in life – pursue God’s way and God’s will. Our human plans can be derailed, but nothing alters God’s ultimate purpose for our lives. No matter how badly you are hurting, God will heal you and bring you through sorrow and setbacks; you will grow in faith and be the person God is calling you to be.