DayBreaks for 11/15/17: Disappointments
From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:
From The Culture Shift, Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro, 2005:
“The great missionary explorer, David Livingstone, served in Africa from 1840 until his death in 1873. Pastors Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro tell of an incident from Livingstone’s life that illustrates why we need to be thankful in all things.
“David Livingstone was eager to travel into the uncharted lands of Central Africa to preach the gospel. On one occasion, the famous nineteenth-century missionary and explorer arrived at the edge of a large territory that was ruled by a tribal chieftain. According to tradition, the chief would come out to meet him there; Livingstone could go forward only after an exchange was made. The chief would choose any item of Livingstone’s personal property that caught his fancy and keep it for himself, while giving the missionary something of his own in return.
“Livingstone had few possessions with him, but at their encounter he obediently spread them all out on the ground—his clothes, his books, his watch, and even the goat that provided him with milk (since chronic stomach problems kept him from drinking the local water). To his dismay, the chief took this goat. In return, the chief gave him a carved stick, shaped like a walking stick.
“Livingstone was most disappointed. He began to gripe to God about what he viewed as a stupid walking cane. What could it do for him compared to the goat that kept him well? Then one of the local men explained, “That’s not a walking cane. It’s the king’s very own scepter, and with it you will find entrance to every village in our country. The king has honored you greatly.”
“The man was right. God opened Central Africa to Livingstone, and as successive evangelists followed him wave after wave of conversions occurred. Sometimes, in our disappointment over what we don’t have, we fail to appreciate the significance of what God has given us.”
Disappointments are a dime-a-dozen. I just finished teaching the story of Joseph in one of our Bible studies. The thing that struck me about Joseph is that he had plenty of opportunity to be disappointed and discouraged at many of the things that had happened to him. The jealousy of his own brothers seemingly knew no bounds. He was thrown into a pit, presumably to be left for dead, but wound up being sold by his own blood into a life of slavery. He went to prison after being falsely accused. He was forgotten by someone he’d helped who could have gotten him out of prison. He lived with the pressure of answering to the most powerful man in the world, and lived with the risk of failing in his mission to save the lives of the Egyptian people if his plan went awry. He lived with the frustration of not knowing how his father and brothers were doing – or if they were even alive – for they were alienated by affection and distance. He had plenty of opportunity to be disappointed in how his life had gone.
Why didn’t Joseph get discouraged? Because he knew he didn’t really answer to the most powerful man in the world – he answered to God, the very God who orchestrated all the events of his life. I’m so impressed with his attitude in Genesis 45, realizing that God had led him through all those things for His purposes.
If you are living a life of frustration and disappointment, I believe it is because we don’t see God’s hand in everything – turning evil to good for us – and we blame others for bad things, or even ourselves. And seeing God’s overarching guidance and direction relieves us from the necessity of revenge, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc., as we learn to trust Him and to realize that the things that others may mean for our own harm, will instead turn out to our benefit.
Are you disappointed with something that’s been taken from you or given to you? Don’t judge too quickly – God has already given you His scepter to give you admittance to His home!
PRAYER: May we trust in You fully, and in Your goodness to us, even in the face of great evil. Help us to not be disappointed with the lot in life that You may have charted out for us, but to see all of our lives as opportunities to know and experience Your leading. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.