"For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed."" (Romans 10:11)
"Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:13)
Isn't it wonderful, how God's word points not only to actions, but to what is in the heart? And we show what is filling up our hearts by what we say and do. Do we live our lives in expectation and faith in God's love and faithfulness, or by our circumstances? Lori Goering from Germany shares her thoughts this month on dealing with circumstances when they seem to let us down, and tempt us to think God isn't loving us in them. Her insight into Joseph's life in prison has inspired me to look beyond the disappointments, to see God's grace revealed to me in Jesus. I pray the same for you!
Let's keep our husbands and fellow church leaders in our prayers this next week, as they attend the GCC Pastors' and Leaders' Conference: The Heart of the New Testament Leader, in the Ozarks.
In His love,
Never Be Disappointed
by Lori Goering, Gospel International, Germany
If you are anything like me, you often find yourself struggling with a deep sense of disappointment or frustration that arises from unfilled expectations. It can be hundreds of little things throughout the day- like missing the green light when you thought you could make it, or getting to the store and finding out that the one thing you came to buy is sold out. Or it could be bigger things like not getting the job you were so sure was the perfect one. Or the house you so wanted to buy gets bought out from under you. To even bigger things like one more month going by and you still aren't pregnant, or watching your child make choices that lead him further away from the Lord. Life always seems to have a way of surprising us and catching us off guard. It can so quickly happen that a sense of heavy sadness, or worse, an angry bitterness settles in and makes itself at home in our hearts as we go from one disappointment to the other. Proverbs tells us that "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." But on the other hand, Rom. 10 tells us that Scripture teaches us that if we put our hope in Him we will not be disappointed. So how do we put our hope in Him? Sometimes I don't even know that my hope is not in Him until my expectations (which I didn't even realize I had ) don't get fulfilled, and I suddenly feel sad and disappointed.
I have been thinking a lot about Joseph lately in relation to these things.He is someone who really had to deal with disappointment. God had given him a dream, a vision, that his life would play a very important role in the scheme of things. God had made it clear that He wanted to use Joseph's life in big ways. But suddenly Joseph woke up one day in prison. Limited in what he could accomplish, repeatedly being forgotten and overlooked, Joseph had to have wondered on some days if what God had revealed to him was really true. This was not the way things were supposed to turn out. This was not the way it was supposed to look. He had had such high hopes... and now all he had were prison bars.
And then at just the right time, Pharoah heard about and called for Joseph. Joseph had just enough time for a bath and then found himself standing before one of the world's most powerful men. When Joseph clearly stated that he had no ability in himself to intrepret dreams but that his God would do it, there was no sign of a sick heart. No depression, and no fainting spirit ready to give up on life. There was no bitterness that defied the Pharoah. What were the secret lessons that Joseph willingly learned from God all those years? How was it that he didn't give in to sadness or anger? How exactly did he put his hope in God and not in the circumstances?
It's not clearly spelled out for us in God's Word. But as I have thought about it, and tried to imagine myself in Joseph's place, God has brought to mind some things that are challenging me to grow in this area.
1) Joseph did not assume that the way to avoid disappontment was to refuse to have ANY expectations at all. He did not simply shut down emotionally and refuse to be involved with living any more. He continued to have hope and anticipation,not being paralyzed by the fear of disappointment. He went ahead and asked the chief cupbearer to remember him before Pharaoh and hoped he would. - but he learned that the moment disappointment appeared in his life - that was a sign to turn immediately to God and renew his trust in Him.He learned to use disappointment as a springboard for diving deeper into the grace of God.
2) Joseph refused to question the goodness of God. When He experienced disappointment, he turned to God and submitted his own will to that of an all loving and all knowing Father. Gen. 39:21 tells that us that while he was prison God was with Joseph and showed him His kindness. Because Joseph saw and tasted the goodness of God, he could let go of any momentary dispappointment by holding on to that goodness, regardless of how the circumstances appeared.
3) Joseph learned to accept the fact that in this world we will have tribulations. He learned that a fulfilled life is not the result of perfect circumstances, but comes from a perfect God. He didn't insist that everything be "right", and realized that God alone is the Perfect One. And so he focused on seeing the presence of this Perfect One amidst imperfect circumstances.
4) Joseph did not insist on getting his rewards here and now. He worked hard and gave his best whether with Potiphar or in jail. And when he was treated unkindly, unfairly or simply forgotten, he could rest content, knowing that the rewards for making right choices lay with his Father's "well-done" and not in recognition from those around him.
5) Joseph learned to love the Dream-Giver more than the dream itself.When it appeared that the dream would not be fulfilled he was willing to let go of it and and trust in his Father's wisdom to work all things out for good. He didn't insist on having his dream fulfilled in order to be happy. Having God Himself was more than enough!
God, like every good father, longs for his children to be happy. He faithfully trained Joseph how to choose to be happy and content in the midst of difficulties, unfulfilled expectations, and disappointments. Isn't it wonderful to realize that God is the same today as He was with Joseph? He who began a good work in us will complete it. He will teach us how to focus on what we have and not what we don't have. He will show us the path of contentment and joy inspite of any and all disappointing circumstances in our lives. Isn't it fantastic to be a daughter of the King?