In Part one of the series, “Faith Through Disappointment,” I introduced the “Four Gets” in my journey to wholeness. The first was to Get REAL. Be honest with yourself and with God about your grief and anger.
Part two, was Get HELP. In your struggle, don’t shrivel from self-imposed martyrdom. Permit yourself a White Flag Moment.
Part three, was Get PEOPLE. God uses “Jesus with skin on,” to provide practical help.
Today’s post wraps up the four-part series: Get in The WORD.
A dear friend gave us this picture frame for Christmas. She gave it to me in the hallway at church at a hectic time between services. Distracted, I thanked her for it in a hurry. I made a mental note to put pictures in as soon as I could.
The frame ended up sitting around our house for two years.
This summer as we unpacked after a move, my husband nailed up the frame near the front door. A few days later, he suddenly exclaimed in the middle of lunch,
“Hey! That has our name written on it!”
Sure enough, there it was: Our last name. And a Cross. For almost two years, I totally failed to appreciate how personalized this gift was. I’d assumed it was just a generic frame with stock photos. I found out the pictures had been taken by a professional photographer, commissioned by our friend, and lovingly placed into sequence. I had completely taken her gift for granted, not realizing how much effort, love and care went into it. I confessed my error to her and thanked her again. We shared a good laugh over it.
When life falls apart…
The Word of God is often a gift like this. Our Bible may sit around the house for years, untouched. Maybe it gets a token toting to church, once a week. We take it for granted. We fail to recognize how deeply personal a message it has for each of us: A customized and timely Word that’s specific to our unique circumstances. It’s a precious gift with our name lovingly rendered into it.
But what does, “Get into The Word” really mean? Is it randomly opening the Bible, hoping for divine inspiration wherever you land? Or rote, mechanical and mindless memorization of verses, like “Wax on, wax off!” (although later, we see the benefit of the discipline.)
For me, “Getting into the Word,” meant struggling with every Promise I once believed in. When my life falls apart, what does it mean that God is good? How could He be good if He allowed this? What does that mean that God understands everything we go through? How could He possibly understand this?
“The Big D” disappointment of our son’s diagnosis kicked open doubts I never knew I had. It exposed many shallow, untested understandings of God, and drove me to sift through the Bible like I never had before. And I would discover anew, that the Bible would actually sift through me.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to diving soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
~ Hebrews 4:12-13
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will
~ Romans 12:2
Renewing my mind
I was determined to “test and approve” if God was indeed good. In part 1 – Get REAL, I mentioned how journaling my thoughts — writing my own book of Psalms– is one practical strategy in waging war on destructive thoughts and emotions. Another is identifying specific negative thoughts and replacing them with God’s Truth.
I knew the battleground would be in my heart, mind and emotions, where anger, bitterness and cynicism raged. Especially as a woman, renewing my mind was critical. If I don’t guard these places, they easily become the enemy’s playground. The prince of lies and accusation, his objective is to prowl about, tear down, and plant suspicious thoughts and attitudes towards God. (I Peter 5:7-9).
Whenever the enemy drops a landmine of fear, panic, discouragement or whatever, combat it with what God’s Word says. There’s something to be said about looking squarely in the face of nebulous negative thoughts, freely swimming around in your head. An unseen and uncontested enemy is an effective one. So call’ em out. Face off on spiritual “potshots” with full-on, frontal attack. Then, replace them with solid Truth.
I Say vs. God Says
Struggling in my new role as a special needs parent, my thinking gravitated towards, “God doesn’t understand!” But countering this with what God says:
- He understands the joyful anticipation of beloved children. He prepared lavishly for their arrival, too, just like anyeager Parent.
- He understands the heartache when those children don’t turn out as expected, despite having done everything right to guarantee them. And His heart was filled with pain.
- He’s the Father of a Wounded Son who was bullied, misunderstood, rejected and scorned. He shares my feral protectiveness, outrage and demand for justice.
- He’s felt completely alone, carrying a Burden no one could understand. He experienced utter disappointment when trusted people weren’t there for Him at His time of need.
- He’s cried out prayers in blood, sweat and tears… that were met with silence. He, too, has received the answer of “No,” sometimes.
- He’s even uttered the same words I’ve cried out in times of darkness and despair, “My God, why have you forsaken me?!” Yet demonstrated submission to, “Not my will, but Thine.” He proved, ”My grace is sufficient for thee.”
The Power of Words
Suddenly, the Bible became intensely personal, and relevant like it never was before. The God of the universe gets me. He gets us!
“Just a piece of paper” had crippled my faith. But if a mere doctor’s note could wreck my life in an instant, how much more so over 1,000 divinely inspired pages of the Bible has supernatural power and authority to resurrect, redeem and repurpose.
The Bible is a Gift we must unwrap. Whatever our unique circumstances might be, God has a personalized Word of encouragement for each of us. He has a specific Word with our name written on it, that the Holy Spirit is waiting to breathe into life.
Get into the Word. Let it get into you. Don’t take it for granted as a generic, lifeless book. The Word of God is living and active. Test and approve it. Renew your mind, soul and spirit by it.
The Word of God has transformed my life. It can transform yours.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus.
~ Phil. 4:6-8
From Disappointment –> Discipleship –> Deliverance
Not everyone has a special needs child. But we all have some Big Disappointment we struggle to trust God with. “How could God let this happen? Is He going to fix this?” The enemy pounces on these disappointments, to try and convince us that God is distant or aloof in our suffering.
But He is a God that is close to the brokenhearted. Ever since the beginning of time, He has been hovering over the darkness and chaos of our world. And He is still poised to usher in order, clarity and light. As we trust and submit to Him in obedience, He can take any chaos the enemy intended for harm and transform them into good, good and very good.
It may not happen overnight. For me, it took years of struggle, of peeling back layer after layer of cynicism and doubt. As I struggled to reconcile truths I’d known in my head, with the pain I felt in my heart, my heart started to gradually shift and change. It turned from an embittered heart of stone into a heart of flesh.
God is a redeeming God, the only kind of God He knows how to be. He can take Disappointment and use them as tools for our Discipleship, to grow and mature our faith.
No discipline feels pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
~ Hebrews 12
What “Big D” shall separate us from the Love of Christ?
Whatever your current “Big D” might be, keep it in mind as we close. Let’s read several passages from Romans 8 together:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…
~ Romans 8:28
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword…? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
~ Romans 8:35-39
Shall disability, diagnosis, dysfunction, depression, or even death? No. In all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him who loves us.
Conquer may not mean fix, bypass, lessen or even alleviate, improve, remove, or even restore. It means conquer; to be delivered from the prison of bitterness, blame or victimization. Apostle Paul remained imprisoned in chains, yet lived and died in absolute freedom. He was more than a conqueror. We can be, too.
How? Whatever the Big Disappointment might be:
Everyone doesn’t face the same problems in life. But we can all have the same solution.
His name is Jesus.
If you enjoyed this post, Share or Subscribe to receive weekly posts via email.