Good Friday morning ...

Everyone knows disappointment sooner or later. 

Our world can become dark very quickly. Friends break their word … marriages end in divorce … children move away and never call … colleagues betray us … the company lays us off … doctors can’t cure us … our investments tank … our dreams are shattered … the best-laid plans go astray … other Christians disappoint us … and very often, we disappoint ourselves.

We live in a world of disappointment, and if we do not come to grips with this truth, we are doomed to be unhappier tomorrow than we are today. That, indeed, would be a sad, sad tale.

We have all heard the story of Alexander the Great who wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. Or of John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the U.S. who wrote in his diary: “My life has been spent in vain and idle aspirations.” Or what about the epitaph written by famed author Robert Louis Stevenson: “Here lies one who meant well, who tried a little, and failed much.” It was Cecil Rhodes who opened up Africa and established an empire, but what were his dying words? “So little done, so much to do.” And perhaps you’ve heard Abraham Lincoln’s reply when he was asked how it felt to lose the race for U.S. Senator to Stephen Douglas in 1858: “I feel like the boy who stubbed his toe: I am too big to cry and too badly hurt to laugh.”

Everyone knows disappointment sooner or later. We are often disappointed when things don’t go the way we thought they were going to go. And our wrong expectations lead to disappointment … and disappointment can lead to despair.

It is quite difficult to see God in the picture when we are disappointed.. But He is still there and it is important to recognize both His presence and His power … even in our disappointment. I have found it difficult to accept … but somehow know it is true … that praise is a choice, not a feeling.

We really shouldn't wait until we feel like it to praise the Lord. We should praise Him at all times whether we feel like it or not. But many times we won’t feel like praising the Lord. But praise isn’t about our feelings. Praise is a choice we make.

Too often we wait until the victory is won … until we garner success … until matters turn out the way we want them to … before we praise the Lord. But we should stop and praise Him before the battle is even begun. Then praise Him in the midst of the conflict. And praise Him even when things seem to be going against us. 

Anyone can praise God when the sun is shining … when all the bills are paid … when your marriage is strong and your kids are doing well … when you just got a raise and the future is bright. It’s something else to praise God when things are far from perfect. It’s a great thing to be able to look at your life and say, “It’s not what I wish it was, but God is still good to me.” That’s faith … simple faith!

God’s goodness is proved not only in what He gives … but also in what He allows. Hard times are hard precisely because they force you out of your comfort zone. They put you in a place where you are virtually forced to trust God. They move the spiritual life from theory to reality. You can hear all the sermons you want about how God takes care of His children … but it’s not until you experience it for yourself that those truths become the liberating foundation of a life that cannot be blown away by the winds of adversity. 

I’m not a sailor, but I like this quote. It makes perfect sense. “One can learn about sailing in the classroom, but it takes rough seas to make a great sailor.” That says to me you can read about sailing until you know all the nautical terms by heart … but you’ll never learn how to sail, much less be a great sailor, until you take your turn at the helm while your sailboat fights through a squall. When the waves are pounding, the wind is howling, and the water is rolling across the deck … then you learn how to sail and how to survive. And when the storm has passed, you will thank God for the knowledge and confidence that could not have come any other way. 

There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity. 

The person is blessed who can say, “I am here by the sovereign choice of a loving God, and I know my Lord makes no mistakes.” This does not mean it is wrong to change your situation if you need to (and if you can), but it gives you the bedrock confidence that Higher Hands are at work in your life and that you are being led by the Lord. 

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4 KJV).

Have a blessed weekend … believing God is in control and providing light for the darkness …