This morning I woke up to find disappointment waiting for me. The details are unimportant. What matters is that in my first moments of waking consciousness I discovered a situation that stirred up dark emotions and thoughts lurking deep within my soul. In the end I was more disturbed by my response than by the situation that caused it.
The short, sanitized version is that something didn’t work out the way I planned.
In the hours since, I have wrestled with my feelings and ideas. My first inclination was an attitude of indignation. “Don’t they know who I am?”, I said to myself. “I deserve better than this.”, I thought. “They owe me.”
Then the Lord spoke. “Am I not the giver of all things?”, he said. “Am I not the one who numbers the hairs on your head?”. “Is that a bald joke?” I asked.
He dug deeper.
“What are you afraid of?” asked the Lord.
That question brought the high euphoria of my indignation crashing down. Suddenly, the force of my emotion turned away from the one who did not meet my expectation. I saw the frailty of my heart. “I’m afraid that my plans will not work out.” I responded to the ever listening Lord. “What do your plans have to do with anything?” the Lord replied. Then he reminded me of words that have corrected and encouraged the people of God for thousands of years:
21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
I reflected on these 21 words. The Lord is so right. I have many plans. When they don’t work out the way I imagine, I often react in fear and anger. Why? I’m not exactly sure, but I think it has something to do with my memory.
I easily forget my place in the kingdom. I am not the King. I am a servant. I am a creation made to serve “the purpose of the Lord”. He reminded me today that His purpose will stand. He will succeed. My plans are irrelevant and small in the scheme of things.
I also forget his faithfulness. When I follow Jesus I have no reason to despair. I have no reason to become angry or fearful when my circumstances fail to conform to my particular version of the future. He is the Lord who is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the Lord who promised to give Abraham a son and did. He is the one who heard the cries of his people and rescued them out of Egypt. He is the one who sent his one and only son to die and to overcome death. He is the one who shows up again and again in my story. He is always faithful and right on time.
Finally, I forget that his Kingdom is coming and nothing can stop it. I have this image of the Kingdom coming like a forty-foot wave in Cape Town. I’m like the surfer who ludicrously paddles against the force of the swell. I’m struggling because I haven’t learned to ride the wave. I’m trying to go my way with my own ideas under my power. The Lord says “stop struggling and follow me.” “I will make a way where there seems to be no way”. “I will carry out the things I have set out to do.” “Rest and trust me.”
The weight of disappointment nearly crushed my spirit this morning. Now I receive it as from the Lord and I give thanks. Thank you God for disabling my impulse to control. Thank you Lord for giving me deeper faith in the place of fear. Thank you Lord for this disappointment which reminded me of your great faithfulness.
He is the Lord God Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth. He turns the night into day, death into life and my disappointment into thanksgiving. Great is the name of the Lord!