Life left you bitter?

Disappointed?  Many feel that and not always without reason.  A pastor friend posted this morning that he is 33 but as a result of the stresses of ministry feels 40! My guess is that he is dealing with missed expectations at some level. Another person talked with me about his heart’s yearning for real connections in a world that left him feeling alone too often. I ached for his discouraged heart. Yes, I know disappointment, too.  Have I been blessed? Amazingly so and for that I am grateful.  Would I like some parts of my experience in this world be to different? I do.  As we look into a new week, let’s talk about finding encouragement, about living beyond just determination, finding God’s joy.

Dealing with our disappointment begins by gaining perspective! Sometimes what we are feeling is something awful that we ought to mourn.  Sometimes it is just the merely unpleasant that we need to set aside without a thought. A diagnosis of cancer is on a whole other plane than getting a poorly prepared dinner at a restaurant.

We are truly foolish, perhaps even childish, if we allow ourselves to endlessly complain about life’s little inconveniences, letting ourselves become miserable over ordinary issues. When real troubles come, our marriage becomes troubled, our children rebel, our boss turns into a tyrant, our body betrays us – these are reasons to mourn and seek God’s provision!  Jesus reminds us that when life breaks our heart and we look us, we will be  “embraced by the One most dear to you.” (Matthew 5.4)

As we wrestle with those things that chronically cause us to feel loss, to be disappointed, we must resist the temptation to turn into an angry, bitter person. The tragedy of disappointment is compounded when we turn ugly and defensive, concluding that the whole world is against us, that people are terrible, or worse; that God has forgotten us. Some of the most dangerous words can be “everybody” and “all the time.” Such sweeping generalizations make us blind to the truth and deaf to the Spirit’s voice.

Some respond to their disappointment by deadening their emotions, an awful choice really!  If we kill our heart, we may numb the pain but we also lose the gifts of love and joy.  Too many people, once past the optimism of youth, settle into a kind of self-protective disengagement refusing to risk by loving anyone, never praying for the ‘impossible,’ pushing through one day after another eyes to the ground, in grim duty. That’s not the life God intended for anyone of us. A heart that is silenced may save us from disappointment, but at what cost to our humanity?

There is a positive choice we can make, God helping us. It is humility!   The Spirit asks us to dethrone Self, to become a servant, not an abjectly miserable non—person, but one who lives without that crippling entitlement that makes so many miserable in our time. that allows us to forgive. One aspect of forgiveness is the willing to releasing another person from our desire that they act in ways of which we approve or in ways that please us.  Is that hard to do when you know you have done your best, given our utmost, without appreciation. Yes it can! 

And, IF we develop an offended spirit – ‘how dare he respond like that?’  or ‘who does she think she is, anyway?’  the demons will sit on our shoulder and whisper to us about just how noble we have been and how little others care!  There is no good thing that comes from self-pity, from the feeling “I deserve more or better.”  I hasten to add that forgiveness IS NOT forcing ourselves to think: “Ah, forget it. It doesn’t matter.” When a spouse, a friend, a child, a co-worker fails us, breaks our heart, rejects us, or harms us — it does matter!

The better choice is to surrender our disappointment, our anger, to God. That kind of forgiveness that releases whatever ‘debt’ that we are owed to Him, allows God to act and HE will bring justice – perhaps now, most assuredly in eternity.  Jesus taught us that our willing to surrender offenses to us, frees us to receive God’s forgiveness.  He said –“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors….But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:12, 15 

Reinhold Neibuhr’s Serenity Prayer is one we all need to pray, often.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.

On this Monday morning, let me encourage you to HOPE. Here’s a word from the Word for the disappointed. Isaiah 40:30-31 reminds us that:

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;  they will run and not grow weary,  they will walk and not be faint.”


Great Is Thy Faithfulness

(The hymn that points a disappointed heart to worship,
Knowing the unfailing promise of God)

Great is Thy faithfulness
O God my Father
There is no shadow
Of turning with Thee
Thou changest not
Thy compassions they fail not

As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me

Summer and winter
And springtime and harvest
Sun moon and stars
In their courses above
Join with all nature
In manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness
Mercy and love

Pardon for sin
And a peace that endureth
Thy own dear presence
To cheer and to guide
Strength for today
And bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine
With ten thousand beside

Thomas Obediah Chisholm | William Marion Runyan © Words: Public Domain

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