Since last May I have been studying for my Masters in Business Administration at Western Governors University. I was hoping to be done by this May and be finished in one year. I could have done it, but spent about three months where motivation was hard to find. It put me behind in time and I will end up taking about a year and a half instead of a year. Disappointing.
It seems like I have been on a diet since the day I was born. I have been on more diets than I can count. I have tried the cabbage soup diet. I didn’t lose much weight, but I lost a lot of friends. If you’ve never been on the cabbage soup diet, let’s just say that it generates a massive amount of, um, natural methane gas. I was afraid turning on the burners of my stove would cause an explosion! Disappointing.
I dreamed of playing professional football when I was young. I loved the game and worked hard to be good. That dream died one night when my right knee exploded. The doctor told me that I would probably never play football again, and I never did. Disappointing.
I always wanted a home like “Leave It To Beaver.” Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver stayed together and their home was perfect. To say my home was less than perfect would be an understatement. Instead of a nice house in the suburbs we lived in lousy apartments throughout LA County. I went to father and son banquets with other kids’ dads. Disappointing.
Like you, my life has had plenty of disappointments. John Maxwell said, “You got problems, I got problems, all God’s children got problems.” When things have gone wrong in my life I have had people ask me, “Where is your God? Why didn’t he keep you from the pain?” I’ll admit that at times I have fallen into the way of thinking, too. What I have learned is that God is in my disappointments as well as my triumphs. In his book “The Problem of Pain,” C.S. Lewis says, “God whispers in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain.” I have learned from the bitter, hurtful experiences in my life, and they have made me stronger. In fact, it is the disappointments and hurts that have been the most help for me. Everybody loves the heights, but the depths are where all of the growth happens. I would not pastor the church I currently pastor if it had not been for the searing rejection of the church in Delano. That pain led to the greatest joy and deepest satisfaction of my ministry.
When disappointment comes, we have two choices, we can become bitter and disillusioned, or we can use our difficulties as a means of displaying our hope and trust in God. We can ask, “Why me, God?” Or we can ask, “God, how will this bless me?” The difference is attitude and trust. I can go through rough times knowing that God will be with me the whole way. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Since God assured us, ‘I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,’ we can boldly quote, God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?”
So how do you handle the disappointments in your life? Do you let yesterday’s pain continue to hurt you today, and will you let it continue to hurt you tomorrow? Or will you look at each disappointment as a learning experience that will add to the richness and treasure of your life? The only way to do that is to ask Christ to help you through your tears and frustrations, to give you the peace that you so desperately need and deserve. The good news is that he is ready and waiting to do just that.
Still hopeful…. Jerry