Please don’t tell me, you’ve never felt that way. Don’t tell me you’ve never been devastated by bad news, a sudden event that changes plans, or maltreatment. If you haven’t then I am really happy for you, but if you have then join me today as I journey to overcome my disappointment and the depression that is trying to sneak in and take me heart. The first verse that comes to mind, describes the way I feel and might describe how you have felt when something seemed to steal the hopes you had. Proverbs 13:12 reads,
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
The word deferred in this verse is the Hebrew word maw-shak' it means to prolong, delay, or remove. When our expectations are delayed or even removed it afflicts the heart, the seat of our emotions and the center of our being. That is how I felt. I thought God had made a way for me to be healed after fourteen years of suffering, praying, and believing. I had thought I was healed before and it had turned out not to be the case. I was so excited for this and so ready to live without this problem. But at the last minute it was snatched away. I was devastated. My heart was broken, again.
It seems over the last several years anytime something good, something that gives me hope for my future is about to happen or even given to me, it gets taken away jobs, lost children, a home or whatever. And I know that that is not true, but in the midst of disappointment all those things flood my mind and try to get me to meditate on the bad. Does that happen to you? It is the enemy lying to us! When I pray rather than ponder my letdowns, setbacks, and regrets God reminds me of all the good things He has given me, the changes He has made in me, and the path on which He has taken me. He reminds me how He worked those defeats for good. He reminds me that it was the times when I was most in need that the miracles were the biggest. Psalm 77:11-15 reads,
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
15 You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
I don’t need surgery. God can fulfill my desire. I trust He will. God is mighty, His way is holy. He works wonders. The world will see His power and He will be glorified. He has done such great things for me. He allowed me to graduate from college, (something I didn’t think possible) go to graduate school, he gave me dentures, sent me on missions trips, provided for me, gave me a car to drive, wonderful friends, a blessed ministry, gifts I can barely fathom, and so much more. He has given me a great deal. What has He given you? What miracles did He work for you? How has what was supposed to be bad worked out for your benefit? I could tell you story after story about the tragedies in my life becoming the catalyst for some great thing. I know if you think about it, you can too. So rather than turn the thoughts of disappointment over in our minds let’s praise God for how He used them to sanctify, strengthen, and supply us. Let’s tell the world how great is our God because He carried us through and made us into His image. Psalm 105:1-5 reads,
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
4 Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
If we were strong enough on our own, if we thrived without struggle, if God didn’t give us more than we could handle, then how would He ever be glorified? Why would anyone ever turn to God if I showed the world how I am the person I am through my on effort without any fight or hardship? 2 Corinthians 4:5-12 says it this way,
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
When God fulfills our desire His way, it is a tree of life. It is life giving to us and to every person around us. We are weak in order to demonstrate how great and mighty God is. We are flawed to show Jesus’ perfection. Bad things happen, bad news comes, but we are not crushed, left in despair, forsaken, or destroyed. Jesus is manifested in us and He brings life to everyone who sees how He works even in our suffering. I may not understand what God has planned or why He is doing it this way or that way. But God is God, He sees the whole picture, the beginning, the present, and the end. He sees the details from His point of view, not ours. He knows our hearts and the hearts of our enemies. He is God. Isaiah 55:8-11 reads,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
It is okay to grieve for what was lost. God doesn’t expect or want us to go through life with a fake smile. He doesn’t want us putting on masks that belie the truth. When we are feeling broken hearted, we can know God is there with us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6). So pray, cry, grieve, and express your brokenness to Him. He will draw you even closer. Psalm 34:17-19 tells us,
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
I know when I am upset by my circumstances, especially when I feel as if all my hopes have been dashed, I don’t want to burden others with it. I don’t want to deal with their judgement for my sorrow. And I don’t want them to think I am weak. But the truth is hiding my suffering only makes it worse. We are living as God’s children and are expected to be a functioning member of the body of Christ in a community of faith. We are supposed to reach out to one another. We are told to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). We are told to confess to one another and pray for one another (James 5:16) and weep and rejoice with one another (Romans 12:15). Holding one another up in encouragement and edification is how people will see Jesus in us. Jesus said it this way,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35).
Whatever has happened to disappoint you, know that The Lord loves you, He is with you, and He will use it for your good, your sanctification, and His glory (Romans 8:28-29). He has good plans for you. He knows where you’re going and He knows the best path to get you there. The enemy will try to steal your hope, he will try and kill your spirit, and destroy your testimony. But he cannot touch you (1 John 5:18). He cannot snatch you out of God’s hands (John 10:28-29). Remember who God is and trust Him to be God for you. Remember all He has done for you and trust He will do it again. I will leave you with this encouragement from Jeremiah 29:10-14.
…I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.