Day 8: Facing Disillusionment

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Confusion comes in when our definition of good does not fit God’s.

Scripture of the Day:

Proverbs 13:22

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

1 Peter 4:12 (NIV)

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

Psalm 73 (all)


Like the desert, there is beauty in the forest, but if we focus on each individual tree, we might miss the big picture. Sometimes, we can’t see the forest for the trees.We started on this path simply enough, but somehow in the maze of life we ended up lost in the woods, not sure we will ever find our way out.

Disillusionment is tied not just to failed expectations we have for life, but to our inability to control those outcomes. Disillusionment chokes out hope as we suffocate on what could or should have been. When we are unable to process or accept our circumstances and wonder where God is in it all, hope still remains – cloaked in a different garb.

If we walk with God, we have His strength to cling to in challenging seasons of life, but disillusionment can damage that faith and create space for idolatry if we are not careful – as we try to cling to what we wanted instead. Trying to hold onto our dreams as if we are owed them is ultimately a lack of trust in God.

Trusting the LORD when times are good comes easily, but it is in the rocky ravines that we need to understand His purposes are far wider and greater than a temporary stay in a craggy landscape.

When we want to hope, to believe that God is still good but we are surrounded by death and uncertainty, how do we survive the land of disillusionment without getting a jaded heart? By discovering a new hope.

When faced with his grim reality and the flourishing of the wicked, David said his “feet had almost slipped”. He described his affliction as “All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments”. This kind of hardship was way beyond hope deferred and not getting his own way. Way out of the league of the troubles that Peter spoke of, too, which are common to man. This was deep suffering. David refrained from speaking the raw truth of his anguish and doubt out loud – he struggled to believe he could even have the thoughts he was having – but he did.

It troubled him deeply that the wicked thrived while he sought to obey God. It did not seem fair. God’s character and His will were on the table to be evaluated . . . UNTIL. Until he came into God’s sanctuary – into His presence – and understood the end and their end.

It was there that He saw God’s goodness even while life hurt. He felt God’s presence and knew instinctively that God was with him in the fiery trials and that He held him in His right hand.

As we begin to face all the potential sinful outcomes that traumatic events can wrought into our lives, we begin the process of healing. Are we bitter or angry with God? Let’s be honest – our faith is hurt and we often attempt to hide our hurt from God when He allows suffering to collide with our paths. Understanding the role that God’s sovereignty plays in our disillusionment helps us to face it instead of avoiding it or becoming numb to our pain.

God’s sovereignty is not something we can fully comprehend. How is it that He knows everything before it happens – and yet still allows something in that we disapprove of?

Looking at the foundation of the plans for our life can help us to better understand our path. At the inception of our hopes and dreams, where was God? Was He inspiring our hearts to do His will, or were we inviting him to our dream and asking for His favor and blessing?

An encounter with God puts everything into perspective. While I mourned my broken life and the testimony I never wanted, God revealed His hope for me. He created us for His glory, yet somehow while I wept for my children and myself, I forgot it was all about His glory, not mine. Like David, I looked at other people prospering and wondered why I was so messed up. I did not plan my life this way. Oh. Yeah. I guess that statement is revealing, too, huh?

I longed to be like the other happy couples who never had to walk the dark cold court hall toward a divorce that was never supposed to happen. How did I get into this forest full of problems? Could God raise me from these ashes? Yes, but even better, He could reveal to me that even the hope of deliverance was not the hope that He wanted me to have.

I had to let go of the grief in one hand to grab hold of God’s hope for the future, but I was afraid. If God would allow this kind of intense suffering, could He be trusted? Yes, but I had to die first. My hope had to die in order to get a new reinvented hope in Jesus.

Dying to my hopes was a long, arduous death. Lots of chocolate (yes, I am bringing up the “c” word again), tears and disbelief. But holding onto that old hope was killing me inside and no amount of therapy, chocolate (notice a pattern here?) or buffalo wings could heal me. Only God could, but I Had. To. Let. Go. Completely.

Not my will, LORD. Not my will. All my hopes and dreams I lay at Your feet. You made me and You know what’s best. Help my unbelief and cause my heart to want Your hope and not my own.

God’s plans don’t make sense to us because our plans often come from a place of being self-oriented and formed in a desire for our comfort. Confusion comes in when our definition of good does not fit God’s. But when we come into His presence seeking to understand, he shows us that His thoughts and ways are much higher. And maybe, just maybe, it is actually His mercy.

When I was disillusioned and doubted whether I could trust Christ for the suffering He permitted in my life, He reminded me that He suffered, too. He understood. I had lost sight of what really matters – His glory. Not my reputation or the social stigma. Not that my pain did not matter to God, but somehow in the mess I was in, God needed to receive glory. It was not about me, after all.

This song, Thy Will Be Done is a song that really ministers at the place of disillusionment.

Lord, You never leave us without hope. Thank You for giving us a new hope in You. 

 

The Surprising Favor of God

Photo Credits fasting4breakthrough.blogspot.com

Photo Credits
fasting4breakthrough.blogspot.com

Genesis 39:21

“But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him kindness. He granted him favor in the sight of the prison warden.”

Genesis 40:8

“They told him, “We both had dreams, but there is no one to interpret them.” Joseph responded, “Don’t interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me.””

Genesis 40:23

“But the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph–he forgot him.”

Genesis 41:16

“Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “It is not within my power, but God will speak concerning the welfare of Pharaoh.”” 

Psalm 5:12

“For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.”

God’s favor is often undetectable, given the surroundings.  Being thrown into prison probably did not seem like the favor of God.  Perhaps that is because we tend to think of favor as having no barbs attached to it.

We can fail to recognize the favor of God when he gives it, or doubt that His grace will be supplied in the future we might be fearing – until we step outside the feelings and circumstances and look for the hand of God.  It is then that we recognize He is always at work and our faith becomes tangible; no longer dependent on blessings or good vibes as a sign of favor.

I imagine that when Joseph’s fellow inmates forgot him, Joseph could have wondered if God did, too.  But the temporary suffering produced a humility and reliance on God that ended up bringing about bountiful blessings.  God’s favor was with Joseph when he was blessed materially and positionally and when he was not.  The favor of God was not dependent upon man’s definition of favor then or now.

Joseph knew where his help came from.  He knew he did not have the wisdom to help others, but he cared enough to seek God’s face on their behalf – right in the middle of his own suffering.  Joseph’s faith was tested when his earlier prophecies seemed contrived, but confidence in God’s ability to supply the answers and fulfill His promises is never misplaced.

Sometimes no matter how much positive spin we can try to give things, we have to admit that at times life is painful. Joesph was ultimately elevated and honored, everything restored to him beyond what he had before, but he was such an example of steadfastly walking with God and being content in whatever his condition.  It is the favor of God to understand the harsh realities of life and still hold onto our faith.  It is the favor of God to know that all things He will work together for the good of those who love Him – even when we do not see it.

Lord, help us to not be shallow in our devotion to You.  Help us to not focus on the distractions of life and to turn our hearts completely to you, trusting you when the chips are down and when they are up.