Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bitter? or Better?

As I wrap up my Summer '11 classes and focus on papers and finals, I thought I would bring back another blog post from '08. I know that when I wrote this God was really teaching me a lot about where my focus should be, and how when I choose to hang my hopes on mere mortals I will eventually be let down. I came to realize that pain is a protector. We are never meant to rely completely on ourselves or others, but on the One who can never betray or disappoint. My love to you all...

Several years ago when I was a young Christian I was speaking with my Pastor about disappointment. He told me, "Eliska, everyone in your life will disappoint you at one time or another. Your family, friends, children, and spouse will all fall short. Even I will disappoint you." I quickly replied, "Oh no Pastor! You could NEVER disappoint me!" Sure enough, just a few weeks later I was speaking with him and he said something that hurt my feelings. Upon closer examination of those feelings I realized I was (gasp!) DISAPPOINTED in him! Now disappointment is not a comfortable emotion for me to experience. I don't know what to do with it. When I'm happy, I laugh. When I'm sad, I cry. When I'm angry, I've been known to raise my voice. However, disappointment just sits there. All you can do is just feel it. 

Where does disappointment come from? Well, if we were to be honest, we would see that it originates with us. We can not be disappointed with someone's behavior unless we first place an expectation on that person. We hope they will react in a particular way in a given situation. The hard truth is that those closest to us have the ability to disappoint us most. It is easy to think, "If they REALLY loved me or cared about me they would never have said/done THAT!" I have found myself in prayer asking God to change the person who hurt and disappointed me. I have actually heard these words come out of my mouth: "Dear Lord, please change so-and-so! He is so CLUELESS!" Maybe the better thing to do when I feel disappointed is to pray that God will change ME so that I can better deal with the disappointment...that He would make me better, instead of bitter. After all, we are dealing with humans down here, and they will disappoint. As Christians faced with disappointment our challenge is to be "Christ-like" in our response. Continue to love, not turn our back on, and forgive in spite of the circumstances and the other person's "humanness".

Because most likely, at some point, we will be be the one doing the disappointing instead of being the disappointed. 

What happens, however, when events disappoint us? When life in general isn't going as we hoped? Who do we feel disappointed in then? God? 

Gods Word tells us in Ephesians 1:11 that God "...works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will." So does that mean He actually allows disappointment? Yep. 

At this point, we have a choice. Do we get bitter or angry because God isn't doing what we think He should be doing when we think He should be doing it? Or do we have faith that He knows better for us? Can we look past our disappointing circumstances to see that perhaps there is something we need to learn through all of this? Do we stop putting expectations and timetables on God's Blessings?

I think sometimes God allows troubles and disappointments so that we can see this life on earth for what it really is: imperfect and temporary. I think Paul illustrates this best in 2 Corinthians 4:18, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

We will never be disappointed when we choose to follow His leading and conform our ways to His, instead of us trying to conform His ways to ours.  I am a huge fan of singer/activist Bono.  One of my favorite quotes of his reflects this ideal.  "...stop asking God to bless what you're doing. Get involved in what God is doing -- because it's already blessed."  



Choose to be blessed.  It's a beautiful day.


Check out U2's "It's A Beautiful Day" video here