I wonder how many times you have been asked the question “how are you?” and you have responded “I am fine thanks!” and, underneath , you are anything but!!! We all do it. We don’t mean to tell an untruth but we all, to a certain extent wear a mask.
If, a couple of weeks back, I published my most important blog, today, I am publishing my bravest blog but, I wanted to share something that is really on my heart at the moment.
So, I am going to invite you to glimpse behind my mask.
This morning, we had our men’s prayer breakfast and I let those who were there, see behind the mask. I shared about something I, and I suspect many others, suffer from – disappointment.
Let’s face it, life can be disappointing. As a friend once observed, anyone who has been in ministry for more than a couple of minutes will suffer from disappointments.
People are a major source of disappointment. Those who promise to be with you, let you down. Those who are friends, until you lead in a direction that leaves them unsettled. Colleagues who say one thing to your face and something else behind your back (yes that has happened to me!). I am sure I am not the only minister alive who has found themselves counting people and been disappointed with the response an event has received.
If I am going to be truly honest, there are also times when I get disappointed with God. My wife has been battling an illness for some time, we have prayed for healing. Friends have prayed for healing. We believe God heals, WE could accomplish so much if she was well. Sadly, to date, there has been no healing. I am disappointed.
Of course, it’s not only ministers who suffer from disappointment, everybody does and I am sure you could list all of your sources.
The problem is that disappointments can dig their way deep into our hearts. I think of this as a sort of equation
Disappointment → Disillusionment → Discouragement
When we are discouraged, it can lead to a loss of faith.
So, if disappointment is inevitable, how can we stop it from leading onto disillusionment and discouragement?
Firstly, be honest about it. Sometimes we just have to tell God about how disappointed we are. I love the story of the disciples on the Emmaus Road. Full of disappointment, they meet with a stranger and share with him their disappointment;
And we had hoped that he would be the one who was going to set Israel free!
(Luke 24 vs. 21 – emphasis mine)
Okay, at this point they don’t know it’s Jesus. But, no matter what our disappointments are, we can share them with Jesus.
Secondly, don’t be overwhelmed by disappointment. The problem with disappointment is, it will distort our vision. We don’t see things as they truly are. It may be a limited number have responded but, they could be the ones God wants to work in at that particular time. Or, maybe, there is something God wants to teach you through that disappointment. Remember, in the Emmaus story it was only when the bread was broken that the disciples’ vision was renewed.
If disappointment threatens you, ask God to give you a renewed vision.
Lastly, never give up on hope. Remember, God can bring about more than we can dream or imagine. In the Emmaus story we read;
They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”
(Luke 24 vs. 32 – 34)
I love the way that, with hope restored, the disciples have to run back to the place where their disappointments began, and sought to encourage anyone else who was struggling with their disappointments.
Now, I have to say, I don’t get this right all of the time. I am a work in progress but, I hope this helps you.