If you remember, last week we talked about despair and how it leads to suicide for many young people regardless of their economic status or where they live. In fact, we learned that globally suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for people ages 15-29. And those are heartbreaking statistics.
This week a brother in our congregation asked for prayer for the friend he grew up with. His friend’s son had passed away. Later he told me that his friend’s son was only 11 years old and he had taken his own life. Can you imagine a child so young feeling there is no hope for a promising future to look forward to? This young boy had been disappointed again and again in his short life and could bear it no more. We can only pray that God sends comfort to his father, who is left behind, to grieve his loss.
So this week, I felt led to speak to you about the very topic of “disappointment.” This topic is important to understand because before people begin to despair, most suffer disappointment over something. In other words, people do not typically jump right into despair. Something happens before, and it’s usually a disappointing situation. So we must learn what to do with disappointments when they come into our lives. We need a strategy to overcome the hard things that God allows.
Let’s begin by reading our opening scripture.
“6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
Let’s read this scripture out loud together three times. You may think this scripture has nothing to do with our topic but hang in there. It will have much to do with handling disappointment toward the end of this lesson.
We’re all going to be disappointed at some time in our lives. In fact, if you live long enough, you will have many opportunities to be disappointed. It doesn’t matter if we serve God or not; disappointment comes into every life for many different reasons. Mathew 5: 45 supports this thought, but we will also read 44 to understand the scripture in context.
“44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
What is the scripture teaching us? It teaches that each of us will have our good and bad days. So we each will receive our share of disappointments. I don’t believe God causes our disappointments, but he does allow them to come. If life were perfect, how could we understand how good God is to us? Just like we can’t have flowers without rain, we cannot understand joy without sadness. It doesn’t matter who we are or where we live. We are going to have our share of heartache. Disappointment will reach each one of our lives. Disappointments can bring curses or blessings, depending on what we choose to do with them.
Every one of us can tell a story that ends with disappointment. If I walked around a room full of people, each one would have their own story to tell of when they were left feeling so disappointed with the course of their life or an event that didn’t go as they hoped. A story where they could say, “This wasn’t supposed to happen like this. This situation isn’t what I planned for my life, or why is this happening to me.” Sometimes the disappointment isn’t too major and is easier to overcome, yet other times, the disappointment is life-changing.
So what do we do with our disappointments? Especially when it feels like God is saying no to our plans.
At this time, Brother Ross will share his story of a time when God had a different plan for his life than he had planned. And in the end, God had something for him that he truly loves.
Brother Ross’s Story
“As a young man, I dreamed of becoming an engineer. So when I was of age to go to college, I started down this path with my studies; God worked it out, and I started an electrical engineer internship that became full-time employment. I was so blessed to be working as an engineer. My dreams were coming true. Then they decided to shut down the nuclear power plant where I worked. I didn’t understand why this happened, but I stayed positive and continued applying for other engineering positions. I trusted God would still work something out for me in this field. Unfortunately, the job market was saturated with engineers, and the plant’s closing meant more engineers were looking for jobs than there were positions to occupy. I was new and starting in the field, so those with experience were beating me out of available jobs. I exhausted all my options, and the only way I could find a career in the field would be to leave the area, which would take me away from the church. This choice was not an option for me. My commitment to our God and our local congregation was too great. Eventually, God employed me in a different field and sent me down a path I did not even consider. I continued on this career path over the years and found that I absolutely love it! Today I am an Executive Vice President of Property Management. The Lord prospered me in my journey on a career path He chose. Thank God I put my trust in Him!”
Sister Becky’s Story
“I will tell you about two life-changing disappointments I experienced after giving my heart to God. In 2009, I was married to my new husband (Brother Ross) for almost three years. God blessed me, and I was working my dream job in the Deaf Access Program. In college, I majored in American Sign Language (ASL), and it was a blessing to finally have the opportunity to use the skill I went to school for. I also started taking more classes and dreamed of entering the interpreter training program. I remember the week before finals, as I walked to my car, I had such a blessed moment of fellowship with God. It was incredible! My heart rejoiced with a joy one could not even put into words. Everything was perfect, and I knew I was in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing – wholly centered in God’s will for me. I remember saying to God, “My heart is so thankful, Lord, and I can’t wait to see what my future holds.” The following week I received a cancer diagnosis from my doctor. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was so disappointed, but I felt strong and ready to go through whatever the outcome. I believed God could still heal me. The news had me so frazzled that I became confused with time and was an hour late for my final. God began to use me right away in this most devastating situation. I had never really talked with my instructor before, but I felt led to confide in her about what had happened. I found she was also struggling with a life-changing event, and here we were, two strangers crossing paths, crying in each other’s arms, and sharing comforting words. It really was a beautiful moment of connection with another suffering human being. Later in the trial, God gave me a promise from His word to hold on to and thank God He chose to heal me from the cancer.
Fast forward to 2019, I worked in a new position I absolutely loved. I was known as the dog food lady for the Assistance Dog Program. I helped people who used service dogs to help them with their disabilities. I became the spokesperson for the program. People would cry at the presentations I put together. It was indeed a blessing, and I felt my career taking me down a new path. Again I saw a future of bliss on this new path, but everything suddenly stopped. With COVID-19 came shutdowns, and everyone was sent home to work. In September 2020, I found myself in the hospital again.
You can imagine how I felt. To say the least I was disappointed. I would need to have surgery, and it would take a while to recover. There was no way I could focus on my career and give my health the attention it needed, so I was forced to retire. How could this be? I wondered. I felt abandoned by God – rejected. I didn’t understand why this had happened, and my heart was breaking. The enemy tried to take advantage of my disappointment and sent me into despair. But I held on, and a miracle came into my troubled waters. Brother Ross and I started working with young people in Africa. Clearly, God did not want me to represent the Assistance Dog Program. He wanted me to represent Him to the young people of Africa and all who would listen. If I did not become ill, I would never have had the time to work with the young people from Africa. I would never have visited Africa and missed the opportunity of experiencing the joy of sharing the gospel with all the young people in person. Sometimes what initially begins as a curse reveals a blessing waiting around the corner. God had His plan for me. A perfect plan amidst imperfect circumstances.”
Naomi is a woman in the Bible who also faced life-changing disappointments, and in the end, God blesses her in a way she could not imagine. But the blessing didn’t stay with Naomi. In fact, Naomi’s blessing extends for generations to come, still reaching us today.
Let’s look at how it all began. First, Ruth’s book reveals to us that Naomi and her family moved to Moab because of the famine in her hometown of Bethlehem. Despite what some scholars say, I am sure her husband pondered this move with the best of intentions for their two sons. What devoted family man could allow his wife and children to remain hungry if he could solve the problem? The move to Moab surely gave him comfort that his family would not starve.
“1 Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.
2 And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.”
Unfortunately, Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, passed away sometime after the family moved. But her two grown sons take on two wives, which adds to her family, and they live together for ten years when suddenly Naomi’s sons both pass away. You can read about these events in the following verses.
“3 And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.
4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.
5 And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.”
After Noami’s sons died, she was left alone with her two daughters-in-law. She loved them very much but felt no way possible to care for them. She could not bear sons for them to marry; even if she could, it would not be reasonable for her daughters to wait for them to grow into their manhood. So she felt it would be best to return the girls to their families, and Naomi would travel back to Bethlehem with her people. The famine had ended, and the threat of hunger was no longer an issue. So she kissed her daughters-in-law and bid them goodbye. It was an emotional time for them all as they shared much love for many years. Orpah returned to her family, but Ruth wasn’t giving the idea a second thought.
6 Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.
7 Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.
8 And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.
9 The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.
10 And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.
11 And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
12 Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;
13 Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.
14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.
Naomi urged Ruth further to return as Orpah did, but she refused. Ruth had understood very well the ways of the Moabites. They did not worship a merciful God, and Ruth wanted nothing to do with it. She wanted what Naomi had, a relationship with Godly people and a relationship with the true God. Noami’s grief and disappointment consumed her into oblivion to God’s plan for her to bring Ruth to the true God. Sometimes it’s like that for us; in our grief, after disappointment visits, the way might be dark, but if we hold on, everything will be clear. Ruth committed herself to Naomi and her people, and the two returned to Bethlehem together. Noami became Ruth’s mentor and taught her God’s ways. Ruth’s reputation as a Godly woman captured the attention of a man that willingly took her as his wife, and together they had a child. They named their child Obed. Much later, our Lord Jesus would descend from this lineage. Naomi, despite her grief, held on, and in the end, God blessed her, but she would never know how that move so many years ago would impact people’s lives for generations to come. You can read these events in the following passage.
15 And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.
16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
18 When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.
19 So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?
20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
21 I went out full and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?
22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.
14 And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.
15 And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.
16 And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.
17 And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
18 Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,
19 And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,
20 And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,
21 And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed,
22 And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.
So how can we overcome disappointment when God changes our plans?:
- First, we must remember that His thoughts for us are pure, and He has a perfect plan for our life. Jerimiah 29:11 gives us this very message.
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
- Next, we must remember that He loves us so much, He knows exactly how many hairs are on our heads. So if you are living honestly and upright for God, He will never abandon you even though it may feel like it for the moment. Even Jesus felt abandoned on the cross while He died, but God our good father never left Him.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
- And finally, remember to acknowledge Him in the disappointment, and He’ll show you the next step. Hence our opening scripture.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Turn toward God, not away, and let Him know that you know He cares and is watching for you. Let Him know you still love Him and remember the miracle He performed in your heart when He forgave your sins and gave you hope for a promising future. God knows our beginning and end. One of the many benefits of serving Him is that we know He is working a plan for us, and we don’t have to carry the disappointment alone. We only need to trust Him when the hard times come. If you are feeling abandoned or forsaken this morning, or if the enemy has you stuck in despair, turn toward God, wait upon Him and see what He will do.