October 29, 2013

Transformation Tips

Disappointment. Nobody likes it; but everybody experiences it.

We’ve all had those dreams and desires that, as we’ve matured, we’ve had to readjust and slide into our mental background. They didn’t fit with reality, so we just smiled at them and moved on.

However, some disappointments are not so easy to deal with. Our relationships, children, marriage, careers, and health are areas in which dealing with disappointment isn’t quite so simple.

When we think about how to deal with disappointment, it’s helpful to define the word. The root of “disappointment” is “appoint,” meaning “to decide on or ordain.” Disappointment happens when we don’t get something we believe would be best. It’s simply an expectation that we wanted, expected, even felt was due us that didn’t come to pass or happen the way we thought it should. Therefore we are unhappy, discontented, disappointed.

But if we don’t handle disappointment in a positive way, it will react upon us negatively. Our Christian maturity and practical success are reflected by how we deal with disappointment.

The apostle Paul provides us with advice about how to deal with disappointment and illustrates how he dealt with it in his own ministry. His approach for dealing with disappointment was “learned contentedness.” He wrote, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:11-13).

Acts 20 records Paul’s final trip to Jerusalem as he faced the danger and disappointment of being accused and imprisoned. We can learn from Paul five principles about dealing with disappointment:

1. Act on Your Duty:Paul wrote, “I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house” (verse 20). No matter how disappointed you may feel, stay focused on your known duties and responsibilities. Don’t let disappointment derail you.

2. Adapt to the Facts:“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there” (verse 22). Every disappointment has realities that we may want to avoid or deny. Resist that temptation. In the might of Christ, face the truth and move on.

3. Adhere to Your Partnership:“I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me” (verse 23). One of the most comforting and empowering aspects of our walk with Christ is knowing that we are not alone. Christ is with us. Believe it (you don’t have to feel it), then act on it.

4. Assume a Resolute Attitude:“But none of these things move me” (verse 24, KJV).I absolutely love this principle. I accept it as a personal challenge: to reach a place in my experience where disappointments and trials don’t bother me. That’s true growth!

5. Accomplish With Confidence: “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (verse 24). This is rich. Paul says God has given me my race to run, my ministry to accomplish, and I will not only do it, but I will do it with joy and with a positive testimony.

Finally, the big perspective: While we may get stuck focusing on the here and now, our present situation isn’t the end of the story. Paul encouraged his fellow believers to see the big picture. He wrote, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:16, 17).