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Disappointment Is No Match for God

By:  W. Odum 

Have you ever been disappointed? Either someone lets you down or circumstances don’t work out the way you thought they would. A woman in Terre Haute, Indiana, called the local police station to report a skunk in her cellar. The police told the woman to make a trail of bread crumbs from the basement to the yard and to wait for the skunk to follow the line of crumbs outside. A little later the woman called back and said, “I did what you told me. Now I’ve got two skunks in my basement.”

We have all experienced the truth of Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”That kind of disappointment can touch every area of our lives. Jimmy Evans, teaching on marriage, points out that there once were three major causes of divorce: money, sex, and power (or control). Now, however, the number one cause of divorce is none of those three. It is disappointment. “You’re not who I thought you were.”

One of the major causes of disappointment is promises that are not kept. A church choir director was being driven out of his mind at the rehearsals for the Christmas choral concert. It seemed that at least one or more members of the choir was absent at every rehearsal. Finally they reached the last rehearsal and he announced: “I want to personally thank the pianist for being the only person in this entire church choir to attend each and every rehearsal during the past two months.” At this, the pianist rose, bowed, and said, “It was the least I could do, considering I won’t be able to be at the concert tonight.”

Cartoonist Rob Portlock, in Leadership Journal, portrays a pastor making a Sunday morning announcement: “We have a special gift for a lady that hasn’t missed a service in forty-five years. Eleanor Smith! Where is Eleanor sitting? Eleanor? Eleanor ...”

Not all occasions of disappointment, though, are due to someone intentionally breaking a promise. Sometimes circumstances beyond anyone’s control interfere with our plans. That was the case in one of the most disappointing times of my life.

My dad had bone cancer. He lived two years with the disease. During the last year of Dad’s life we planned to ride Amtrak together to Oregon to see my sister, Rosalie, and my brother-in-law, Mac. Knowing how ill Dad had been, I was looking forward to that time with him. In April of his last year he went into remission. We went to a train station together, planning the trip in August. Then in August, when we thought we would be traveling to Oregon, Dad died. I not only was broken up by his death, but I felt that my last chance to be with him without distractions was stolen. It wasn’t Dad’s fault. The circumstances were beyond his control.

Here is the problem with disappointments. They can color our outlook on life, and can even change the way we see God.
Jimmy Harris said, “A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past; he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.”

I have met any number of people who have allowed their disappointments to color their view of God. They see God as an extension of people who are either short on commitment or are short on the power to control things.

Here is the good news. God is faithful. I have often been encouraged by Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1 Corinthians 1:9)

When I face my weaknesses, whether those weaknesses are character issues I have or are just my powerlessness in the face of events, I am encouraged to know that my destiny rests on the faithfulness of God.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that I have no responsibility. I do. But it does mean that while I am growing in faith and obedience God’s faithfulness protects me.

As the psalmist says, “His faithfulness will be your shield.” (Psalm 91:4)

When I understand the faithfulness of God, I can rise above every past circumstance that left me disappointed. I can take His promises seriously and can put my life and my future in His hands.

William Penn, the founder of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was well liked by the Indians. Once they told him he could have as much of their land as he could encompass on foot in a single day. So, early the next morning he started out and walked until late that night. When he finally went to claim his land, the Indians were greatly surprised, for they really didn't think he would take them seriously. But they kept their promise and gave him a large area which today is part of the city of Philadelphia. William Penn simply believed what they said. If William Penn found the Indians to be faithful to their words, I can certainly expect God to be faithful to His.

Moses pointed that out to Israel a long time ago: “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19) 

If God said it, His character stands behind it. He is in control of circumstances and will never have to say, “I never saw that coming.” He not only intends to fulfill His Word. He is able to fulfill His Word.

God’s commitment to us is more extensive than most of us imagine. Author and business leader, Fred Smith wrote about an experience that helps us understand this. He wrote, “One of my treasured memories comes from a doughnut shop in Grand Saline, Texas. There was a young farm couple sitting at the table next to mine. He was wearing overalls and she a gingham dress. After finishing their doughnuts, he got up to pay the bill, and I noticed she didn’t get up to follow him.

“But then he came back and stood in front of her. She put her arms around his neck, and he lifted her up, revealing that she was wearing a full-body brace. He lifted her out of her chair and backed out the front door to the pickup truck, with her hanging from his neck. As he gently put her into the truck, everyone in the shop watched. No one said anything until a waitress remarked, almost reverently, ‘He took his vows seriously.’ ”


God takes His vows seriously. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). When I am weak, and even when my faith is weak, He is faithful. We can depend on that.

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