Sermon Published By Request of RBC Member
"Dealing With Our Disappointments"
by Pastor Ron Thomas
Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040
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Preached 10/22/2006

Text: Psalms 143:3-4. -- "For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead. 4 Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate."

Introduction: The word "disappointment" does not appear in these verses, but it well describes the experience. We all make plans, have dreams, and set goals. Will our plans materialize or end in complete failure? Will our trust in various people always be rewarded? The only thing certain about life is uncertainty. Our plans, dreams, and goals may end in glorious victory or frustrating defeat. Those we trust may remain loyal, or they may betray our confidence. Such is the nature of life. Life is a series of celebrations interspersed with a series of disappointments. Because of this, it is important to learn how to deal with disappointment.

The word disappointment is made up of "dis" and "appointment." "Dis" means separate, or part asunder. The word "disappointment" therefore means not as appointed or not as planned. Disappointment describes a feeling of dissatisfaction or anguish, which is experienced when we are torn apart from an expected appointment or outcome.

While we may not be able to avoid disappointment, we do not have to be defeated by it. The negativity surrounding disappointment, exists more in our minds than in reality. It is not the event, but our interpretation of it that causes pain.

In this message, I want to explore two areas where we often experience disappointment and how to cope with it.

Area one: Life's disappointing circumstances.
We see this in the life of Moses. When Moses sought to identify with his people the Jews and their plight in Egypt, things were supposed to turn out for the better. Surely he thought they would regard him as a great liberator. Moses seemed at least to be prepared and equipped for the job. We get a sense of this in Acts 7:22-30.

Moses was an educated and gifted individual. Verse 22 reads, "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds." Graduating from E.U. Moses was never so confident of success. He was ready to change the world!

Moses was sincere in his emotions and motives to help his people. Verses 23-24 continues, "And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian." Moses had a heart for his people and their plight. He had not forgotten the teaching of his parents.

Moses fully expected his brethren to understand and appreciate his efforts. Verse 25 says, "For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not." The word "supposed" is past tense. Moses had played the scene out in his mind and it had a good ending! He could see himself leading his people out of Egypt and onto a great future as they sang his praises!

Moses instead received the scorn of his people! Notice verses 26-28. "And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?" What a shock! Not only did it not work out as he planed, his people threatened him!

Moses fled in disappointment! Verses 29-30 conclude, "Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons. 30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush." Moses had it all! He had position, power, authority, education, as well as the calling of Almighty God on his life. He had lived in Pharaoh's house with all its comforts, but now he is living like a drifter on the back side of the desert! What a let down! Certainly circumstances did not work out for him as he had anticipated!

There have been times when we have felt like Moses. Someone said, "No good deed goes unpunished." Circumstances can fall in around us like the great walls of Jericho, leaving us trapped and trodden down under them. There is no escape. There is no deliverance for us! The devil and your flesh, will always lead you toward bitterness. Disappointment will kill your zeal and love toward something or someone. It will make us simply walk away!

The great composer Johannes Brahms who loved food, took ill on one occasion and visited his doctor. After examination, the doctor informed Brahms that he must immediately go on a strict diet to cure his illness. Hearing this, the composer protested, "But this evening I am dining with Strauss and we are having chicken paprika, one of my favorites!" The doctor responded, "Out of the question." Greatly disappointed, Brahms said, "Very well, then. Please imagine that I did not come to consult you until tomorrow." Unfortunately, it is not always so easy to overcome the disappointing circumstances in our lives! They can lead us to believe that there is no tomorrow!

What do we do when things do not turn out or happen as we supposed? What can we do when disappointed by circumstances? Here are three things to remember as you deal with disappointing circumstances.

First, remember that God is sovereign.
God is not controlled by circumstances. As a matter of fact, God controls all circumstances. We set ourselves up for disappointment when we forget that God is in control of our circumstances! The outcome is always in God's hands! Moses' experience here proves that disappointment comes when we assume authority, privilege or rights that are not ours. Rejection often comes when we get ahead of God or go beyond our God given place in these areas.

Second, remember that God has a plan and purpose for our lives.
Teenage Hawaiian surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her left arm to a 1,500-pound shark. Her upbeat response startled observers. She said, "This was God's plan for my life, and I'm going to go with it." Three months after the mishap, she was back surfing competitively! She regarded her tragedy as an opportunity to inspire others with God's care.

Psalm 37:23 tells us that the steps of a good man are "ordered by the Lord." Proverbs 16:9 says, "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps." Our disappointments in life's situations can actually teach us vital lessons and shape us to be better for God. Notice Paul's words in Philippians 4:11-13. "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." The word "state" in verse 11 equates to life's circumstances! Paul chose to learn from his disappointments and was better for them!

Third, remember that our view of things is often different from God's.
We are short sighted. God is far sighted! Our perspective is often different from God's. There is a vast difference between being on the ground looking up at a thunder cloud, and being in a jet plane above the storm. Things that disappoint us, do so because we fail to discern God's plan or see His hand working in our lives. Our disappoints are actually God's appointments to accomplish His will and purpose in our lives! For example, Joseph said years later after dealing with a series of disappoints, "God meant it for good!" We must seek to see God's plan and hand in our circumstances and disappointments. When we can't see God's hand, we must trust His heart!

Someone has observed the transformation of Moses as he dealt with his share of disappointments. During Moses' first forty years, he thought he was something. At the end of this second forty years, he discovered that he was nothing. During his last forty years, Moses learned that God was everything! Life's disappointments are truly God's appointments! <

Area two: Life's disappointing people.
Winston Churchill once remarked concerning the Greek prime minister Plasteras, "Well, I hope he doesn't have feet of clay, too." The phrase "feet of clay" comes from the proverbial golden statue which admirers are disappointed to discover has feet made of clay. Guess what? All of us have "feet of clay." The middle verse of the King James Bible, Psalm 118:8 says it well, "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man." In a lifetime, everyone of us will be disappointed by people. It is inevitable!

Once again, we go to the life of Moses. Moses not only experienced disappointing situations in his life, he had his share of disappointments in people!

Moses was disappointed with Aaron. In Exodus 32, while Moses ascended to the top of Mount Sinai, he left Aaron in charge down below. When Moses failed to return as soon as they expected, the people grew impatient and pressured Aaron to make them a golden calf and throw a decadent party of idolatrous worship. You can only imagine the disappoint when Moses returned. He was so upset, he threw the stone tablets down and broke them. When confronted with his failure, Aaron refused to take responsibility. In Exodus 32:24 Aaron told Moses, "And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf." Aaron evidenced a failure in his convictions and beliefs. Aaron was given to Moses to be his mouth or spokesman to the people. It was the team of Moses and Aaron that were to lead the people out of Egyptian bondage.

There will be people in our lives hurt us through their lack of character or moral failures. We cannot force our values or beliefs on others. We can only live our lives before them and pray for them!

Moses was disappointed with Miriam and Aaron. Notice Numbers 12:1-2. "And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2 And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. 3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)" Obviously Miriam and Aaron didn't like Moses' choice of a wife. There must have been others who felt the same way and complained. Miriam and Aaron took advantage of the situation to challenge the leadership of Moses and speak against him. They evidenced a failure in their loyalty. Those who were closest to Moses in the flesh, members of his own family, where the ones who seemed to disappoint him the most. Jesus said in Matthew 13:57, "A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house."

We can only be betrayed by someone on the inside like a friend, a family member or fellow worker. They say that blood is thicker than water. While that is true, we must take in consideration that blood clots. How quickly family ties can be forgotten for personal gain!

Moses was not the only one who suffered the disappointment of people.

Elisha was disappointed with his servant Gehazi. We find the story in II Kings 5. We will not take time to read it, but the Syrian General Naaman had been cleansed of his leprosy by Elisha for free, but Gehazi went after Naaman behind the prophet's back, and lied so to receive payment and personally profit from the miracle performed by his master. After God revealed the breach of trust to the prophet, Gehazi lied to Elisha about all of this. Gehazi evidenced failure because of greed.

Things like position, power, material possessions, and money can change people. As God's Word says, "The love of money is the root of all evil." Quickly we can come to love things and use people, instead of the other way around!

Paul was disappointed with John Mark. Paul was so disappointed in John Mark, that when Barnabas mentioned his name, it caused contention between the two. Notice Acts 15:37-40. "And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. 38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. 39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; 40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God." This was the failure on youthful immaturity and indiscretion.

One of the deepest sorrows is the pain inflicted upon parents by their children. When young people are empowered, they often say and do things that are very destructive and harmful things to the ones who have done the most for them.

Demas disappointed Paul. This was failure of misplaced values and priorities. We can almost hear the disappointment in Paul as we read II Timothy 4:10.10. "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica." The love of the world overshadowed this man's commitment to Christ!

It is always a disappointment to see professing Christians leave eternal things for temporal things. There are often great disappointment in the work of God. In our work for Christ, our expectations are higher for each other.

The Lord Jesus Christ certainly had a right to be disappointed in men. He was disappointed on every hand! Remember the words of Jesus to His disciples in John 6:67, "Will ye also go away?"

We all carry a lot of disappointment, frustration, and sadness inside. What we feel in many cases, is wounded pride. When we turn away in coldness from someone we once loved, we usually do so out of hurt, wounded pride, out of the need to protect ourselves and keep our dignity intact. While that's understandable, it isn't life-giving.

What can we do when we are disappointed with people? What can we do with all those feelings that invite us to become cold, bitter, angry and cynical?

The natural temptation is to deny, to lie, to pretend that none of this is happening inside us. When others ask how we are, we generally say we're fine, even when our hearts are bleeding, our faces are tense, our eyes are sad, our fists are clenched. Whenever we deny that we're wounded, we prepare the perfect breeding ground for bitterness, anger, cynicism, coldness and rage. When we don't recognize and accept our wounds and frustrations, we easily grow cold, grow hard and toughen our skins, minds and hearts. We put a protective shell over our wounded pride. It seems the only way to preserve ourselves. There is a better way!

Here are a few things to consider when suffering at the hands of people who disappoint.

First, we must refuse to withdraw from the world.
We must continue to build friendships. God often ministers to our hurts through other people. It can be tempting to put up walls when you're feeling especially vulnerable, but if you shut out friends, you could be sealing off healing and hope.

Second, we must go deeper with God.
Friends are essential, but humans can let us down and err in their judgments. God has promised to never desert us. He said in Hebrews 13:5, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Jesus is "the friend that sticks closer than a brother." God has a good track record; it makes sense to trust Him. God is our source of strength. It is through Him, that we are able to forgive those who disappoint us. It is through Him, that we are able to not respond in kind. It is through Him, that we are able to find healing for our hearts and lives!

Third, we must adjust our expectations.
We must expect men to be men. Our hope can be misplaced. If our highest hope is in fallible man, we will eventually be disappointed. On the other hand, if we're so afraid of disappointment that we refuse to trust in anyone, we can close ourselves off from what God may have in store of us. The way to begin to learn to temper our expectations of others, is to pay attention to our thoughts and actions. If we are consistently upset by people and the things they do regardless of whether we know them personally or not, then we are expecting too much. Our horizontal relationships with people are important, but always secondary to our vertical relationship with God! Remember to order your relationships! With God, there is a way out of our disappointments! Lamentations 3:21 says, "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. 22 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness. 24 The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him."

Next time you find yourself suffering from disappointment whether with circumstances or with people, remember that God is faithful and is concerned with the best for your life whether you understand now or not. Just Trust God!

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