"Preparing people to make an impact for God in their generation and to be fit to enter His Kingdom"
Have you ever been disappointed? There are probably some who are struggling today with disappointment. Disappointment takes many forms.
• Sometimes we get disappointed by people (marriage partner, work associate, friend).
• Sometimes we get disappointed when our plans do not materialize (marriage, school, promotion).
• Sometimes we get disappointed with the twists of life (death, sickness, broken dreams).
Disappointment is one of those emotions we would rather avoid. King Solomon expressed deep disappointment in Ecclesiastes 1: 13; 2: 18-26.
As we face disappointments we need to be reminded that even God does not shield his children from disappointment. Disappointment can make or break us, depending on how we cope with it. History has abundant illustrations of people who have struggled with disappointment and yet came out on top. Scriptures says, for all things work well for good…Rom 8: 28-29. Even Apostle Paul struggled and disappointed himself. Rom. 7: 15-25a.
• Joseph had a God given dream but had to wade through disappointment in order to realize it. He was rejected by his brothers. He was the object of lies at the hands of his boss’s wife.
• Job experienced the loss of everything he owned. He lost his family and his friends.
• Jeremiah was called of God to be a prophet to Israel. However, he was rejected and his message was rejected by the people of God.
• Paul was called to be an apostle of God but he was persecuted by the very people who needed to hear his message.
I want to use a text from Luke 24 to consider this subject. This is the context. Two of Jesus followers were on their way to a place named Emmaus. Apparently Emmaus was their home town. They had been to Jerusalem and were aware of the news of Jesus death. As they walked along they were discussing the events that had happened in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus death. As they talked Jesus appears and begins to question them. As they speak Jesus picks up on their disappointment. In verse 21 we find the words reflecting their disappointment. The two followers tell Jesus “And we had our hopes up that he was the One” (the Message).
Have we not heard that phrase before?
• I had hopes our marriage would work!
• I had hopes my loved one would get better!
• I had hopes my job would work out!
• I had hopes we would win the game!
A parable of “Shake it off and step up” is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the mule ‘braying’. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened…and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.
But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back…a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back…HE SHOULD SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP and this he did, blow after blow. “Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up!” he repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or distressing the situation seemed, the old mule fought ‘panic’ and just kept SHAKING IT OFF AND STEPPING UP!
It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of the well. What seemed like would bury him, actually blessed him…all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity. Disappointment can make or break us, depending on how we cope with it.
I want to do a simple two point sermon. First, I want to consider the outcome of disappointment. Second, I want to consider how the presence of Jesus can transform defeat into victory.
First, what is the outcome of disappointment?
1. Disappointment blinds. Notice verse 16. The Bible tells us Jesus’ followers were hindered from seeing Him. The reading of the text makes it sound as if God hindered them from recognizing Jesus. Regardless of the meaning of the phrase the point remains the same. Disappointment will blind you. Disappointment can blind you to the other wonderful things God is doing in your life. In our text disappointment blinded these two disciples to the resurrected Christ. They could not see the good news for the bad news.
2. Disappointment disillusions. It causes us to lose perspective. It causes us to lose direction. It turns life grey. For example, a few years ago, I learnt of an Alabama pastor who had a moral failure. Obviously, that was a huge disappointment. Such tragedies can disillusion those who look to the leader for guidance. However, we cannot let disappointment disillusion us.
3. Disappointment can cause someone to lose hope.
That is the fundamental meaning behind our text. The disciples had lost hope and were going home with head’s hung low. A story was told of a young girl named Norma Jean She spent much of her childhood in foster homes and when she was 8 years old, she was abused physically and given a nickel and told to tell no one. When Norma Jean tried to tell her foster mother she was spanked and told not to say anything about it again because the man she accused of abusing her was a man who faithfully paid his rent. As time went on Norma Jean turned into a very pretty girl and people began to take notice. Boys would whistle at her and she liked it but she wished they would also know she was a person too, not just a body.
After a period of time Norma Jean went to Hollywood where she changed her name to Marilyn Monroe. Publicity people told her they were going to turn her into an American sex symbol. It worked. She became an overnight success. But she still longed to be recognized as a person. She longed to be loved. She went thru 3 marriages pleading for someone to notice her as a person and not just an object. At the age of 35, on a Saturday night, Marilyn Monroe killed herself. Her maid found her the next morning on her bed with the telephone dangling off the receiver. A writer wrote that the dangling telephone was a symbol of Monroe’s life. She died because she never got thru to anyone who understood.
4. Disappointment causes frustration. Jesus called the disciples “foolish ones.” This frustration can drive us to do things we would never do otherwise.
These are a few of the outcomes we experience when facing disappointment. All of us have felt the consequences of this deadly emotion. All of us struggle with managing it properly. We need to be reminded that it is not the disappointment but the handling of the disappointment that matters. The most important thing is to handle our disappointment with God’s help.
In our text Jesus transformed defeat into victory. He changed disappointment into good news. He helped them overcome this deadly emotion. He wants to help you overcome this and other struggles you may be facing today.
How can the presence of Jesus transform?
A. The power of Jesus’ presence brings hope.
“The Christian hope is the hope which has seen everything and endured everything, and has still not despaired, because it believes in God. The Christian hope is not hope in the human spirit, in human goodness, in human endurance, in human achievement; the Christian hope is hope in the power of God.” Sometimes we go through life trying to make sense out of the confusion which surrounds us. How does it make sense? How do we find hope? Hope motivates us to keep going and not give up. Without hope we don’t want to do anything. Hope gives you something to look forward to. Do you have unshakable hope in God? Hope not only opens the door to receive a touch from God, it also moves you through the door. When you have hope, you are willing to get up and do something. The disciples on the road to Emmaus got up and were motivated to serve. Jesus helped them overcome their gloom.
• The presence of Jesus can transform defeat into victory.
• The presence of Jesus can transform sadness into singing.
• The presence of Jesus can transform darkness into light.
• The presence of Jesus can transform bitterness into sweetness.
You may be struggling with an impossible feeling that cannot be overcome. Your words may be “I cannot do this.” That is exactly the point. You cannot but Jesus can. This is true for any trial you face in life. Jesus’ presence can transform the trial into a victory. “When Jesus shows up, disappointments blow up.”
B. The presence of Jesus reveals God’s plan. God’s plan cannot be frustrated. It cannot be defeated. The truth of the gospel is that God’s plan always comes together. We need truth that is bigger than life.
As a Leader
As a leader, remember the ministry of your master was that of rejection and disappointment and your ministry cannot be better than that of your master. You must know:
In John 5: 30, it is clear that Jesus lived for an audience of one. Whatever you do, some people will approve some will disapprove. Some will like it and some will not. God Himself cannot please everybody hence whatever you do as a leader, some will praise you and some will destructively criticize you. Do not allow praises or criticisms, approval or disapproval control or manipulate you. Do what Jesus did and live for an audience of one. Leadership is the art of managing disappointment for we constantly are disappointing others. When you are disappointed, have a humble submission to God.