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 just to have mechanical problems. No one studies hard in order to have a bad mark on an important test. No one builds a friendship just to feel let down. We tend to attach expectation to almost everything in life, meaning there is a distinct possibility we will 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.
Fill in the blank: I am most discouraged at the moment by __________
A couple of weekends ago, I had a discouraging weekend. I caught a flight for a close friend's engagement party, I don't often catch interstate flights for parties, but this was a good friend and I was going to be the best man at his wedding. I left cold and dreary Melbourne with nothing but sunny Queensland ahead of me.
Nothing was as I had hoped. It rained a lot of the time 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 took me aside and told me he had decided to replace me as best man. Living in Melbourne, it would make it too hard to organise 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 and excited only to leave discouraged and disheartened.
The truth of disappointment
Disappointment happens when 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 yourtrust 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 other than 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 or more purposeful
Instead, the true story plays out like this:
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—the only thing that will not disappoint us—is Jesus.
Why can we have confidence in Jesus?
Because God has woven his great story throughout history, showing us he is good, and faithful, and sovereign. This story tells us he created our entire reality and declared it good, that he made us in his image so 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. This is the single best news I could ever receive: 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. Consider what you are trusting for fulfilment, and put your 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.
Jimmy Young is a writer and youth pastor from Melbourne who loves the church and youth ministry. You can see more of his writing on his personal blog, the Radical Change.
Jimmy Young's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jimmy-young.html