This week I have felt somewhat aggrieved, let down, disappointed by life … all ready to throw a pity party with one guest of honour (yep, you’ve guessed it … ME!) And I’ve not liked the person that has turned me into.
Don’t get me wrong. My disappointments pale into insignificance compared with so many things that happen to people. They are minor aggravations in the path of life, certainly nothing worth losing a sense of perspective over. They also reflect tiredness as much as anything else – it’s a wonder how a few days of holiday and some good nights’ sleep casts a different complexion on things! But the thing with disappointments is that you can either dwell on them and get stuck, or chose to use them and move on. I also have to reflect that if I’ve been disappointed or let down in any way, then I’m in really good company.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
These words, from Isaiah 53: 3-5 (NIV) remind me that if I have felt sadness, surely Jesus has felt much worse. If I have been tempted to self-pity, surely Jesus would have been forgiven for feeling this infinitely more: rejected as He was not only by the religious establishment, by the people who had so recently hailed Him as King, and even by His closest friends, who fled upon His arrest. But instead of turning that suffering in upon Himself, He gave it to His Father in the garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42) And what a purpose this suffering was used for! The salvation of not just one man, but the whole of humanity offered through Jesus’ sacrifice. My minor disappointments can surely be used by God too if I let Him work through them.
I am also reminded of a story from Genesis 32, where Jacob is preparing himself to meet his brother, Esau, from whom he had fled many years before, after cheating him of his birthright. He sends his wives, children, servants and all his possessions ahead of him, and that night he wrestles with an unknown man until daybreak. Jacob shows persistence and keeps wrestling, even though he, unknowingly, is wrestling face to face with God Almightly Himself. And when ‘the man’ realises that He cannot overcome Jacob, this encounter follows (verse 26):
Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
Jacob’s response gives me pause for thought. Do I see troubles through and keep believing, or do I fall at the first hurdle? Do I get stuck in the detail, paltry in comparison (yes, too frequently!), or do I trust in the bigger picture? Do I hold on to God, fiercely, determinedly, maybe even greedily wanting that blessing? If not, maybe I should.
So I am still waiting for the way ahead and the reasons behind things to become clear (maybe not for some time to come, maybe not even in this life), and I am holding on for that blessing …..
(Picture credit: http://sohantiwade.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/holding-on-till-success-dawns.html. Bible verses come from the New International Version.)