April 07, 2012

When You're Let Down, Look Up

Romans 8:28
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

I think about the disciples who Christ said would be offended and scattered. In Matthew 26:31-31, it reads, "Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee."

True to form, the disciples did flee (v. 56) when the Temple guards showed up to arrest Jesus. Likewise, afterwards they hid in fear from the Jews (John 20:19).

So, I got to thinking about what these men must've been going through - scared, cloistered and cramped in that room thousands of years ago, peeking through the window and door when they heard sudden noises. Were there recriminations and rebukes? Or was there regret and sorrow? Do you think, Reader, that maybe some of these men felt disappointment with the way things turned out?

I couldn't tell you if it was Peter who felt disappointed. After all, he had denied Jesus 3 times, even after knowing and confessing that He was the Christ (Matt. 16:16); his tears of bitterness suggest otherwise. I couldn't reason with you about Thomas's mental state, considering that he was given to doubt. No, I couldn't even begin to speculate if Matthew, aka, Levi, was taking into account everything that led up to his Master's death, replaying every word, gesture and action in his head as if he were reckoning the matter in terms gains and losses. But, if there was one who felt disappointment, it might have been John, the one the Bible refers to as the one Christ loved (John 13:23 ; 19:26; 21:7). He who loves deepest, hurts most.

They disciples had heard Jesus predict His death and resurrection many times. Nevertheless, they were so intent on ignoring Him that no one even ventured to ask questions about why He kept bringing up the morbid topic.

Here are a few examples of the disciples’ incomprehension:
1. “Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?” (Matthew 16:9)
2. “And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?” (Mark 4:13)
3. “But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.” (Mark 9:32)
4. “And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.” (Luke 2:50)
5. “And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” (Luke 18:34).
6. “They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.” (John 16:18)
7. “For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.” (John 20:9)

I’ve experienced enough disillusionment, disappointment, depression and despair to last many life times. And, I'm sure you have as well.

What's it like to divorce? Face bankruptcy? Lose a baby to a miscarriage? Have an abortion? Put away a goal before it's accomplished, like college or vocational school? For a loved one to die, especially without a profession of faith in Jesus Christ? To relocate because of a foreclosure, job loss or because one's spouse was offered a job elsewhere? To live in a war torn country in which seeing death is a daily routine? To not have food for your children to eat? To witness a person eaten away by cancer or anorexia or drug use? To have failing health? To not be on speaking terms with your family?

These are just a few things that can be discouraging. You see, heart sickness isn’t cured by time alone; it can only be dulled by time or drugs. Countless people have felt defeated and let down by disappointing situations.

But our response can make all the difference. Frustrations can be either an opportunity for spiritual growth or a destructive blow. A right response to disappointment begins with resisting the natural tendency toward bitterness.

These disappointments bring us to an honest place in our relationship with God. If we're willing to allow ourselves to speak to Him about our disappointments and then accepting that God knows what is best for us then it deepens our walk with the Lord. Indeed, Christ set the example when He taught his disciples how to pray (Matt. 6:7-13) and when alone in Gethsemane Jesus yielded to the will of His Father, knowing that He does all things well.

Keep your focus on God and in His book. His higher purpose in your life will be revealed through His holy Word. Don't dwell too long on the hurts and harms of life; they're part of living. When they come - and be sure, they will come - surrender them to the Lord. He will work it all out for you. The Lord will give you beauty for ashes. Just trust Him.

God turned Calvary into victory. There's nothing God can't do, if you let Him.

And remember, no matter how deep your hurt goes, Jesus Christ will go even deeper to shepherd you through setbacks and sorrows while growing your faith. Read Psalm 23 in its entirety.

When John leaned into Christ's bosom, I imagine that it really must've been comforting, knowing that Jesus was the Lord, the Prince of peace. How poignant! Remember, Christ was about to step into His final hours on earth. I wonder if He was just as comforted by having John lean on His bosom?

But, one day in the sweet by and by, He shall wipe away all of our tears as promised in Rev. 21:4,

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

I'd like to think that on that Great Day, I too will be leaning into the Lord's bosom as He wipes every single tear away, once and for all. What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see!

If you're missing peace, it's because you don't have Jesus in your life. Invite Him in now and see what you've been missing! I Want A Peace That Surpasses All Understanding!

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on His everlasting arms.

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