What are you most discouraged by at the moment?
Disappointment is one of life’s most uncomfortable feelings. It niggles at us, stealing our joy and dulling our passion for life. We have all experienced what disappointment feels like. We’ve felt disappointed in ourselves, others, outcomes, our job and just about anything else we can think of.
No one spends thousands of dollars on a new car so that we can have mechanical problems. No one studies hard so that they have a bad mark on an important test. No one builds a friendship so that they can feel let down. We tend to attach expectation to almost everything in life and this means that there is a distinct possibility that we could end up disappointed.
My church has gone through the book of Philippians lately, and I had the opportunity to speak on the topic of discouragement. You can have a listen to the talk here, but I wanted to work through some of the thoughts I had in this post. All of them have come from working through Philippians 1 and others thoughts on the topic of discouragement.
What would you say to this statement: I am most discouraged at the moment by __________
A couple of weekends ago, I had a discouraging weekend. I had caught a flight for a close friends engagement party, where I was asked to be best man at his wedding. I don’t often catch interstate flights for parties, but this was a good friend. I left cold and dreary Melbourne with nothing but sunny Queensland ahead of me.
First of, it rained for a lot of the time that I was there. Leaving wet and windy Melbourne behind, Brisbane was meant to be sunny and warm, but instead it had spurts of torrential rain. In the middle of the engagement party, my friend brought me aside and told me that he had decided to replace me as best man. Living in Melbourne, it would make it hard to organize the wedding with him in Brisbane. Finally, my plane coming home was delayed for hours due to bad weather, causing me to miss a test in Melbourne
On the flight home, all I could think was: “It wasn’t meant to be like this”. I came in wide-eyed, excited and ended up leaving discouraged and disheartened.
The truth is that disappointment happens because we put our trust and expectations in something that cannot bear the weight of our affections. A simple solution would be to lower our expectations, but a stronger response is to put your trust in something better.
What I have found is that when I feel discouraged and disheartened, it is because I have put my trust and hope in something that isn’t Jesus. It’s a story that starts like this:
If I had _____ or ____ was better, my life would be more complete, more whole, more full, more joyful, more enjoyable, more fulfilling, more purposeful’ and it is a lie.
This is the truth:
- If you put your hope in the church, it will fail you and disappoint you eventually.
- If you put your hope in your work, it will fail you and disappoint you eventually.
- If you put your hope in your marriage, it will fail you and disappoint you eventually.
- If you put your hope in your children, they will fail you and disappoint you eventually.
- If you put your hope in your pastor, he/she will fail you and disappoint you eventually
The only thing that we can confidently put our hope in that will not disappoint us is Jesus. Why can we have confidence in Jesus?
Because of the story that God has woven throughout history that shows that he is good, and faithful, and sovereign. The story that tells us that he has created our entire reality and declared it good, that he made us in his image so that we could be seen as valuable, and that even when we ruined everything, he sent his Son, Jesus, to die on a cross and be raised again so that we can have eternal life with Him.
If we know this, then we can have complete trust in God regardless of the situation we face. The single best news that I could ever receive, is that God, in the worst situation I have ever faced, the sinfulness of my heart, was not only in control but had a plan from the beginning to turn my heart of stone into a heart of flesh.
For those feeling discouraged, disappointed and disheartened, there is good news. Work out exactly what you are trusting to fulfill you and continually do the hard labor of putting that trust in God instead. He alone can bear the weights of our affections for he is good, and he is faithful, and he is sovereign.