Disappointments can be one of the biggest barriers to trusting God.
What is a disappointment? Simply it is an expectation we had (rightly or wrongly) that was not met.
We can experience disappointment as a result of other people's actions (or inaction), but that should not be surprising to us, as we are all sinners. No one, except Jesus, is exempt from sinning.
For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. Romans 3:23-24 NLT
Years ago I remember our Pastor saying, 'We need to lower our expectations of people and lift our expectations of God.'
Since hearing that wisdom, in times of disappointment I have endeavoured to remind myself that we are human, imperfect beings; and taken the disappointment to The Cross. Over the years that has become easier to do as I have learned more about grace.
But what happens when we lift our expectations of God, and yet it seems that we continue to experience disappointment? How can we keep trusting God when our heart is aching and things don't seem to be changing? How do we do what this scripture says,
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV
I believe one of the key issues we have regarding processing disappointments and our ability to trust God, is our desire to lean on our own understanding - the exact thing this scripture is telling us not to do! It has been my experience that the moment I take my eyes off Jesus, and look at the circumstances from my own limited understanding, I start to falter. I have found that it is in these times that I have to be single-mindedly focussed on God and His word. There can be no room for any hint of human wisdom or understanding.
Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognise what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:2 The Message
In practical terms for me, this has meant sometimes doing the following ....
1. Putting a guard over my mouth, and not talking about the circumstance.
2. Positioning myself so God's voice is the loudest in my thoughts. At certain times this has meant limiting my social interactions so no well-intended comments have inadvertently adversely affected my trust in God.
3. Being extra vigilant about what I am watching on the television and social media.
When our trust is wavering, we need to be very aware of what we are exposing our mind to. Here is a recent example of how my trust in God was challenged via a television show.
First a bit of context, a few weeks ago we received the paperwork regarding Victoria's next scan. The arrival of these papers moved that event from the cupboard at the back of my mind to a cupboard a bit further forward. It wasn't consuming all my thoughts, but it was certainly more on the radar than it had been in the past few months.
A week or so later I was watching a show on the ABC. They were interviewing an indigenous lady, with a brain tumour, who was helping indigenous people from remote communities who had been diagnosed with cancer, navigate the health system. She was doing an amazing job supporting and encouraging these very vulnerable people.
At one point during the show she said something about not knowing how much more life she had left here on this earth due to what could possibly happen with the tumour.
Those are very challenging words for a mother of a child with a brain tumour, to hear. Thankfully Victoria wasn't watching the show.
It took me a few days to work through those words, taking them to God and reminding myself of His promises. Making a decision to not focus on the disappointments of the past, but rather to focus on the victories we have seen. Choosing to keep my eyes on Jesus and what He did on The Cross.
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our inquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5 NKJV
It is so important that we recognise that our understanding of circumstances is limited, very very limited. Our understanding is definitely not a solid post for leaning on. Only God has the full understanding and we need to humble ourselves and yield, every time, to His truth. When we can come to the place of laying down our need to understand the why's, then I have found it is much easier to increase my trust in God. It is a place of living out of the childlike faith.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:1-5 NKJV
Question for today, how much leaning on your own understanding are you doing today? Is that leaning helping our hindering your trust in God, that He will work all things together for good?
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NKJV