Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
In Part 1, I asked the question, Are you disappointed? Is life disappointment for you? I read about Hawaiian teenage surfer Bethany Hamilton. Here is a girl that started competitive surfing at age 11, and by age 13 she was an accomplished surfer and well-respected in the surfing world.
Then one horrible day in October 2003 she was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark and lost her left arm. She amazed everyone 3 months later, back in the surf, telling anyone who’d listen.
Featured widely in the media she said, “This was God’s plan for my life, and I’m going to go with it”. She has inspired millions who see her as a symbol of courage and inspiration. “It’s me and my board out in God’s ocean”, she says. She continues to compete and amazes everyone by achieving the unimaginable. As a committed Christian, Bethany Hamilton believes God wants her to keep going with faith in him.
More than Conquerors with God’s Help
In the New Testament we meet the Apostle Paul, a rugged and tough individual who had his fair share of disappointments. In his letter to the Philippians he spoke of running towards a goal. He put it like this:
I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done. (Philippians 3:12-14 – CEV)
Paul had to meet enormous challenges of being misunderstood and betrayed. He faced hostile congregations who didn’t trust him, and with plans to get rid of him. But did you know that God had a plan for Paul that would change the course of Christianity? His mission was to take the gospel to the Gentiles. His credentials were impeccable, and yet he faced the toughest challenges anyone could meet.
So determined was he to serve Jesus Christ he was prepared to put up with all sorts of hardships and difficulties simply because God had a plan for his life. He wrote:
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…suffering helps us to endure. And endurance builds character which gives us a hope that will never disappoint us. And all of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our heart with his love. (Romans 5:3-5 – CEV)
What it means today is that whatever challenges we face, or obstacles we meet, we can be more than conquerors with God’s help. He has an amazing way of bringing good out of our disappointments. Just give him time to show you. Sometimes I have met Christians who feel their faith has let them down. Let me explain what I mean. We can rely on our family or close friends to help in times of disappointment, or talk to our minister or counsellor. Or we can use relaxation techniques. And of course our faith in God is there to sustain us. We can pray and read verses from the Bible and have faith.
When Our Prayers Are Not Answered
But there’s a problem here. We often pray for things to happen and when they don’t, our feelings of disappointment can deepen:
- What’s happened?
- Has God abandoned us?
- Is he still listening?
Like a little child asking for gifts from Santa, we begin to question his existence. Now, God is not Santa. God does listen and answer our prayers, regardless of how things might appear.
Former US President Jimmy Carter was a man of deep faith. He was once asked if he believed God answers all our prayers. He smiled and said: “Of course He answers all our prayers. Sometimes the answer is ‘yes’; sometimes the answer is ‘no’, and sometimes the answer is ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’.” What Jimmy Carter was saying is this: we need to be willing to understand that life has many disappointments, but we can always rely on him for support, love, blessings, and guidance. He will help us deal with the daily let-downs if we’ll only ask.
“For God has said, I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5 – NLT)
Years ago, a young cartoonist lost his job and was told he had no talent. He decided to work for himself and found one customer, a minister who paid him a small amount to draw some advertising for his church. The man had nowhere to live and the minister let him stay in his old garage which was infested with mice. But while there, he drew cartoons and nicknamed one little mouse Mickey Mouse. From his days of failure and disappointment, Walt Disney became a worldwide success, overcoming obstacles and living his mission with a right perspective.
If you’re feeling trapped and disappointed today, let me remind you that God says, “I will never fail you. I will never forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). There is hope even when it doesn’t seem that way. The more we can stake our security in God’s enduring love, the less power disappointments have to undermine our hope. His plans are always bigger than we think and a relationship with him through Jesus gives us hope, not just for now but into eternity.
Heavenly Father, how great it is to know your ways are better than ours and even in the middle of our personal disappointments, you are right there to give hope and guidance. We need that, Lord, for there is no better solution. Help us to take it to heart today and always.