“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job 1:22.
At 17 I thought I had life all figured out. I had the people and the dreams, to make what, I thought, would be a very happy life. I was excited for the future, and for all the things I was going to accomplish. In my mind things were good. Life made sense.
Then things changed. People left, plans shifted and life looked a lot different. Life looked a lot more bleak to me. I was destitute, going through the motions without a direction. I was angry and confused.
I’m sure you can relate. I’m sure at some point in your life, something hasn’t gone according to plan. So today, i want to try and answer two questions.
Firstly, ” How do I deal with disappointment and sadness, as a Christian?”
Jane is 22 in her last year of college, with her business degree almost completed. She has a loving fiancé and an internship lined up for the coming summer. Life makes sense. Suddenly, Jane starts feeling a strange pain. She collapses in a restaurant. A few days later the doctors reveal that she has cancer. Life looks very different all of a sudden. Life looks a lot more bleak to Jane. Where does she go from here?
Travis is in his early forties with two kids and a good job. His family is his life. Travis loves his wife and kids. However, that isn’t a mutual feeling. Travis finds out his wife is having an affair. She leaves, takes the kids. Life looks a lot more bleak to Travis. What’s the next step for Travis?
In an old testament book we learn about Job.
Job was described as a man who followed God, and was blameless before the Most High. Job lived his life serving God and striving to honor His commands. Job found tremendous wealth, And had many children. In all accounts of ancient society, Job achieved everything that one could desire. Job did all this without turning his back on God.
Tragedy struck, life changed for job, life stopped making sense. Job lost his wealth, his family, and his desire to keep on living. Job lost everything.
Perhaps you’ve been there too. Perhaps you are currently battling against feelings of depression and disappointment. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, or are struggling with a difficult diagnoses. Whatever it may be, I know I’m not the only one who is struggling with accepting a life contrary to what we had planned for ourselves.
“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
After Job lost it all he didn’t curse God and die. He continued to pray and honor his God. His faith remained strong. He was broken, destitute, sacred and confused. Through his pain Job did the best thing possible, Job leaned on God, Job kept the faith.
When life gets crazy, when cancer strikes, when the money is all gone, when rejection has become normal.
Job trusted in a God that did not leave him alone. Job did not accuse God of getting the plan screwed up. Many times when we do all the right things, but life doesn’t go the way we wanted it to. In response, we shut God out. We blame God for the condition of our life.
Many times we think our good behavior, entitles us to tell God how we should be treated. We believe that If we do all the right things, we should get all the right things. We think of God as some kind of cosmic cash for gold business.
We say, “okay, I did three good things today, that means three good things should happen to me tomorrow.” We think, “I go to church twice a week, every week, this should earn me some brownie points with God, maybe I’ll get that promotion.”
God isn’t a cash for gold store. There are not a set of “heavenly scales” that weigh your bad vs. your good, and then sends you the appropriate amount of blessings. Our faith isn’t based on getting an exact return on the effort we put in.
Thank God that is not the case.
Our salvation is based off the very idea that God gives us what we don’t deserve. God gives us the perfect gift of Jesus Christ. As broken humans the only thing we deserve is death, and separation from God. Jesus takes what we deserve. The foundation of our faith is the concept that we don’t get what we deserve. As Elvin Hall once wrote,
“Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.”
So how do we deal with disappointment and sadness as a Christian?
Remember we don’t get what we deserve.
Remember the Gift of Jesus.
The second question I want to answer is this, “How do we minster to others while dealing with our own discouragements?
We have acknowledged suffering comes, we have acknowledged circumstances aren’t always good. However, that doesn’t mean that we simply walk through difficultly and pain, with a fake smile plastered on our faces, pretending that we are okay when we are not. Accept when things are wrong, accept when you are hurting.
This is where we make a mistake, we confuse accepting circumstances, with letting circumstances define us. You are not defined by your circumstances, bad or good, you are defined by your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Accept that you are in pain, but accept that you are defined by Jesus. Don’t walk through life letting your circumstances define who you are. That will be a road of dissatisfaction and depression. Walk through life knowing that you are defined by the work of the Messiah.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Only by embracing your identity in Jesus can you be an effective tool for the kingdom. Only by living in the Christ can your life have real meaning. Only by building your Identity in Jesus will you find peace.
So, how do we minster to others while dealing with our own discouragements? The hard times will come, don’t let those times define you. Until our time on this earth is up, don’t let your circumstances hold you back from ministering to others. That is the devils plan, to distract you with the circumstances we face, good or bad.
Remember we don’t get what we deserve.
Remember the gift of Jesus
I’ll leave you with a quote from Gilda Radner. She was an original member of the Saturday night live show. Her life ambition was to make people happy, to make them smile, and to make them laugh. She battled with cancer throughout her time on earth. Though our goal as Christians is to minster to the broken, I think her words carry a wisdom we can apply to our own mission. When asked about how she approached living in remission she replied with these words.
“The goal is to live a full, productive life even with all that ambiguity.
No matter what happens,
whether the cancer never flares up again or whether you die,
the important thing is that the days that you have had you will have lived.”