Sometimes people disappoint us. Sometimes we believe in, invest in, and become vulnerable to people who ultimately disappoint. That’s just a part of living because the devil is so busy in this old world. Sometimes he cannot get us by direct temptation. Sometimes he fails to get us to veer from truth, procrastinate righteousness or become apathetic to the cause of Christ, so he contaminates some strong part of our support system and, through the loss of some person or group of people we esteemed, he discourages us, erodes our faith in the Holy One, and sometimes tempts us to throw in the towel.
Maybe you have someone (or a group) in your life right now who is trying to beat down your zeal for righteousness. Let’s take some quick thoughts from scripture that are faith-sustaining. For today, let’s not wonder why God is not hearing our pleas but, instead, let’s remember these things:
- God’s timetable doesn’t always fit my immediate preference, but it is what benefits me in the long run. This is so important. That’s why we have so many passages about waiting on Him. His resolution is always worth the wait for His faithful people. It strikes my heart to think that even the persecuted prophet Jeremiah had to wait ten days for a word from the Lord (Jeremiah 42:7) At least seven times in the Psalms only, we hear the words “Wait on the Lord.” Notice these words from Psalm 37. They are full of the promise that God gives the victory to those who faithfully wait.
Wait on the Lord,
And keep His way,
And He shall exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
I have seen the wicked in great power,
And spreading himself like a native green tree.
Yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.
Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright;
For the future of that man is peace.
2. God’s methodology on the way to victory for righteous people doesn’t always fit my plan of victory. I’ve learned this so many times over in my six decades of life. I think it should happen a certain way. Then God slowly, but with precision, steps in and provides a plan that I could never have dreamed up in my most creative moments of plotting a course. His ways are higher than mine! (Is. 55:9—I love this passage!)
3. People, no matter how charismatic or apparently righteous they may be, are vulnerable to the devil, but God’s way is still perfect. I am vulnerable. You are vulnerable. When people fail to walk in His ways (Yes, when I may fail to walk there), we should learn that consequences of sin are always worse than the sinner expects them to be. ALWAYS. That’s because we leave the perfect, stable, never-changing light of God and choose the dark path that has sin’s trap-doors and dragnets and faux rewards at every turn. We think we can navigate a path that promises an instant heaven while we remain unscathed. We think we can go on with life, normally, after experimentation with the devil’s temptation, but the path that promises an instant heaven delivers an eternal hell, with lots of casualties along the way. Sometimes the consequences of sin reach out to those innocent people around the sinner. When I find myself affected, it’s important to remember that the hurt comes from sin; not from God.
4. Prayer is not an instant release from pain. We know this in our minds, but our hearts want the immediate soothing of His peace. Daniel went into the lion’s den after praying. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego found themselves in a very hot spot just after standing firmly with Jehovah. Jeremiah was in a pit and James was murdered. John the Baptist lost his head shortly after sending His message to the Advocate. Sometimes, the Advocacy renders, not immediate peace, but immediate problems that eventually lead to eternal peace. Sometimes the Advocacy renders, not immediate calming of circumstances, but chaos that gives muscle to spiritual goals. Sometimes the Advocacy—let’s face it—renders what seems like torture, tribulation and testing. But all of that pain brings something that can sustain us for an eternal reward (James 1). I know there are readers who can attest to this even while walking now through the valleys that seem to have no “other side.” But there IS the other side of tribulation born of disappointment.
While speaking to a friend, a mother of four, this morning whose world is being torn apart by the sin of someone in whom she trusted, I realized that there are many of us, who to some extent or another, are suffering collateral-damage-pain at the hands of the enemy. We know, in our minds, that God is perfect. He has placed us in this testing ground to give us a large chance to glorify Him for a very short, sin-influenced lifetime—to even suffer pain at the hands of the devil, through other people—so that we can share in the glory that Jesus has obtained at the throne. We suffer so that we may know Him more perfectly!
That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:10,11).