Having admitted and expressed our disappointment it is important we do not just stay there, we also need to change our focus. To focus on what God has done not just on what he hasn’t!
Parents know that gratitude attracts more gifts. The birthday boy in tears for the present he didn’t get is an ugly and unattractive sight, more likely to receive discipline than further goodies.
Does God owe you anything? Romans 6v23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This verse had a major impact on me soon after I became a Christian; I quoted it in my testimony at my baptism. I realise how easy it is to lose this perspective over time.
I can recall so many prophecies and promises that God has given to me that have come to pass; wonderful things that God has done. However it so easy to just look at what God has still to do rather than what he has done.
This is what Jesus did when John was disappointed and questioned whether Jesus was really who he thought he was. Jesus reminded John of all that was happening, blind seeing, lame walking, leprosy cured, deaf hearing, and good news being preached to the poor. (Matthew 11v4-6)
We need to do the same, focus on what God has done. Change our focus.
Finally we need to lay down the right to understand.
Paul to the church in Philippi, chapter 4–
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
There is a prison theme associated with the letter to the Philippians, the letter was written in prison; the church was formed out of rejoicing in prison. It is helpful things to say to us to help us escape the prison of disappointment.
Peace does not come from understanding but is much deeper. We have to keep a sense of mystery. We cannot expect to understand everything and understanding doesn’t always give us peace anyway. Mystery keeps us humble, reliant on God.
In my experience trying to understand God’s timing causes me most difficulties. Again the example of scripture helps.
e.g. Habakkuk 2.
Then the Lord replied:
‘Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.
Apparently the fulfilment took about 66 years. But Hab 3:16 God told Habakkuk to wait patiently. The prophecy may linger but we are to expect it.
We don’t always understand timing in particular. We have to trust.
It is so important for us all to deal with disappointment in a healthy way.
Acknowledge you are in prison – be real. Change your focus. Give up your right to understand.
WRITTEN BY TONY THOMPSON
Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton. He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.