First, in order to understand how to respond to the circumstances of life, we must first understand that this life is not how it should be. God in his love for creation, did not intend for there to be disappointments, discouragement, and disarray. When God created, he created a world unaffected by sin--and therefore unaffected by discouragement and disappointment. Adam and Eve lived in harmony and at peace with God until the Fall. When they sinned against God, and God cursed Eve's womb and Adam's work, that is when disappointment entered the world. So things are not as they should be.. but one day God will put right what we humans have broken. He will make all the pieces of the puzzle fit back together as they should, and until that day he called us to live in accordance with His Word. He calls us to live differently from the world, in light of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.
That is the first key to our response to disappointment: the Word of God. If you have ever read the Bible you might have an inclination that God's people are just that--people. They have real emotions, including sadness and defeat. David often felt defeated by his enemies and hopeless. Paul was tempted to be discouraged when he suffered much for the sake of the gospel. Everywhere we find the characters of the Bible going through difficult circumstances, and honestly crying out to God for help and comfort. Thankfully, we also have many promises that God gives us that he will answer when we call to him. He will rescue us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will be our comfort in our times of need. So you see, when we have our expectations dashed we are called to respond in agreement with God's Word: with hope, courage, and patience. Psalm 27:14 says, "Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord." Psalm 33:20-22 says, "Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you." When our circumstances prompt our natural inclinations to turn inwardly and believe that we are being wronged by God, let us do the antithesis and trust in the One who ordains all things for the good of his people.
The second key to our response to disappointment is: the worth of God. God is infinitely wise. He is the source of all joy and happiness. In his right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). He has created all things good, to be enjoyed with thanksgiving (1 Tim. 4:4). We oftentimes believe the lie that God is out to get us, or that God is punishing us for something we've done. But God's ways are higher than our ways; his thoughts higher than our thoughts. We cannot assume that we know the reasons why God chooses to do the things he does, but we can trust in his character as a good and gracious God. He is a majestic King that deserves our worship. Remember all the things that God did for his people Israel? He brought them out of Egypt! Remember all the things that God has done for his people--the church? We are his bride! We are his treasured possession! Remember that God has purchased you with the blood of Christ, if you are in him and possess his Spirit, for then we will choose to instead praise God rather than blame God.
Lastly, today God has brought me much encouragement in a few specific ways that I'd like to share:
- Isaiah 26:3-4 - I just happen to be reading Isaiah and this verse nailed it!
- 90.9 - I never listen to the radio in the morning, but I just happened to turn it on as I was pulling into the parking garage at work and the DJs were talking about the fact that God works all things together for the good of those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8 anyone?), so that was pretty timely.
- I found a new blog called In View of God's Mercy, whose writer is going through a season of infertility (if you click the link you can read all about it)
- Pandora - I listen to this internet music station all day at work. "It is Well With My Soul" came on while I was eating breakfast. Perfect.
- Run with Mallory - I got to run 10 miles with my b.f.f. of Dallas after work!