Posted by: R M White | 02/24/2012

Displaying the Work of God

As I begin this note I am also confessing something.

I struggle with broken dreams and disappointments.

There I said it.

I know all the platitude or cliché statements that could be made to make me feel better but sometimes, one is not in the mood to hear these well intended thoughts .. not to worry, honestly, it’s not in my nature to dwell on anything negative so I won’t spend a lot of time in this place. I have a point to make though so bear with me for a little.

You see, the other night I woke up and was unable to get back to sleep – I usually have several fun mind-games I play as I journey back to dream-land but this time my thoughts kept turning to disappointments in life – not just my own but my kids, my parents, several close friends. Man, I was getting wound up good – had quite a list I could present to the Lord! (I’m usually ‘talking to God’ during these non-appropriate awake times, too) “Why, oh why?” or “Why NOT, Lord??” “Am I just not good enough?” “Why bother asking when the answer is just ‘No’?”

Well, before long I couldn’t shake these doldrums so, I got up and made way to the kitchen to make some hot milk and toast. When I was sleepy enough I returned to bed in a better frame of mind and refused to journey into any dark place.

My next morning quiet time found me reading about the blind man healed by Jesus and words that struck home to my heart of hearts were “Neither this man nor his parents sinned.,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” John 9:1-3

… his handicap to display the ‘work of God’? – not that it was caused by or ordained by God … but that God can take it and use it positively. Hmm. So, my disappointments, and yours, he can take them and use it?  This sickness? That rejection? Can be used to/work toward the glory of God? Okay, maybe I can live with that.

Well, I thought I felt better until later that morning… I was browsing around on the web and I happened to read someone’s bio … “I am so happy and have seen all my dreams come true.”  Wow, that hit me wrong. What do they have that I don’t have, besides the good breaks, the contacts, the $$ to make it happen? I work hard, pray hard, live right just like them. And do my/our prayers matter? Is God listening anyhow? When do I decide ‘enough is enough’ and stop praying about something? I know so many great, fantastic Christians whose dreams just fell apart – some gradually, some blown to smithereens.

I thought about this through the day – I knew I wasn’t finished learning a few lessons.

The next morning I was  in the middle of these scriptures:

exhortation to pray … from Jesus himself and in his words … Luke 11:5-8

5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

(this is really similar to Luke 18:1-8 one of my very favorite parables)

so, even if a tight-fisted neighbor will give you good things, how much more will your heavenly Father give you. This isn’t a lesson in being pushy but rather persistent, and also realizing our loving Father takes pleasure in listening to and granting our requests.

It gets even better in 9-13 … Jesus, once again is telling us to just ASK.

9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Here though I realize something a little different than how I usually read this scripture … you don’t just “ask” arbitrarily like God is Santa Claus …you ask knowing God knows what is best …  it says here he will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? Meaning, I guess, he will give us everything we need in nourishment – especially the Holy Spirit – the best gift ever. God won’t leave us hanging or wondering if we’ll survive. He’ll make sure we’re made complete and have just what we need to fulfill his commission for our life. It doesn’t mean we’ll understand the why of everything … not right now and maybe not ever. But we are guaranteed we will have all we need to make it through to the other side of difficulty; to the other side of broken dreams; to the other side of here …

Okay, okay … it doesn’t take away the fact that sometimes life is just plain hard, or take away the memories and thoughts of what could have been … but it does help me to realize that some things in life just happen. It may not have been my fault, or even a choice I made but, things didn’t go according to plan. I can live with that – I will live with that and be content. Why? Because all through the Word are reassurances just when I need it the most. I may travel through a few more dark times … that’s a given, but once again,  I know: God loves me and I matter to him and in my actions or reactions I can choose to bring glory to Him every day of my life.

Yep, I have every last thing I need to make it all the way to Glory Land. It’s a promise, signed, sealed and delivered by my sweet Savior.

So, I end this note with letting you know: I slept good last night and I will tonight – hope you do too as you rest in the arms of the one who loves you the most.

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Responses

  1. When I get into a mind set of disappointment, I try to remember the example of Paul. A man who was so far off track with God, at first, that he had to totally change how he related to Him. He mourned the fact that he killed God’s elect. He had to suffer with weak brethren that he had great hopes for but constantly needed the milk of the word again. He was humbled on Mars Hill when his well put together sermon failed to move many. He was prevented from going to work in Rome until he went in a way he had not intended. His good work was often diminished by false apostles. Things were often so bad he was either treated in a way that should have killed him or he managed to just flee from the grasp of those who wished to put him to death. He often had to take time from working in God’s vinyard to support his physical life by working as a tent maker.

    Paul talks about physical blessings in the following passage, but I think it was how he approached all his disappointments as well. His words are an example and strength for me when I get to feeling down.

    Phil 4:11-13
    11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
    ESV

    Every circumstance I have ever encountered that disappointed me was far less of a problem than those Paul faced. God’s grace was sufficient for him and God’s glory was shown in his weaknesses. I can only pray that God will use my disappointments as opportunities for Him to shine. I hope that I can face my times of “failure” with the right attitude, just as God gave me the example of Paul doing.

    Bill Tipton

  2. I was moved last week to write about something similar–that God hears (Heb. 5:7-10) and that is so comforting, so encouraging! It is a choice as to how we react. Every trial can be for God’s glory and for our own edification. We have Christ’s own example, as well and many others in the Bible to take comfort in. Thanks for sharing!


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