Disappointments are to the soul what the thunder-storm is to the air.
-Friedrich Von Schiller
Do you ever feel disappointed in people? Has someone ever really let you down? Is that statement true? Do our disappointments clear the air, clean things up so we can see again?
In recent weeks, I’ve been disappointed. Some people we know have made some big mistakes. They’ve hurt their families; they’ve ruined their reputations; they’ve lost their ministries. It has been discouraging. Disappointing.
As I’ve thought about those recent situations, I’ve had to admit that sometimes the person who disappoints me the most is me. I make big mistakes. I hurt people. I tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. Scripture talks about the sins that so easily beset us. I have some of those.
A while back, I read something written by a person who decided Christianity isn’t for him. He’s convinced it’s not all true. Do you know what finally convinced him the Bible and our entire belief system is false? The doctrine of sanctification. He said he has never seen it played out in real life. Everyone who is a believer that he knows still struggles with the same sins, still gives in to those same sins. He is convinced that nobody he knows is getting any holier, any more sanctified.
Perhaps his expectations are not realistic. Perhaps he’s looking for people who have become perfect, and we all know he won’t find them. Perhaps he’s looking for an excuse not to believe. But perhaps he has a little bit of a legitimate concern. When I look around at people who are supposed to be mature Christians and they mess up big-time . . . Well, let’s just say that’s not a great advertisement for the doctrine of sanctification. And when I look at myself and I feel like I’m struggling, battling the same sins I’ve been battling for years . . . Well, that can be frustrating.
I don’t know that I can defend the doctrine of sanctification here. That’s not my purpose tonight. But the more I think about this, the more convinced I am that when we’re looking at people and getting disappointed, it’s because we’re looking in the wrong place. Maybe our disappointments do serve a purpose. As the thunderstorm ultimately clears the air, freshening everything up, perhaps our disappointments clear our spiritual understanding and freshen up our perspective.
When I was 18, a teacher and good friend, whom I greatly admired and respected, warned me, “Jenn, be careful. Don’t think too highly of me because I promise you will be disappointed. If you put people on a pedestal, they will fall off. Nobody is perfect. Keep your eyes on the One Who is perfect. He will never disappoint you.”
I’ve been thinking of that advice quite a bit in the past few weeks. People will disappoint us. We will disappoint ourselves. None of us are perfect. We are all in process, and we will all fail sometimes. Some of our failures will be big public failures, the big sins that draw the most attention. Some of our failures will be hidden, known only by us and God. Some of our sins will be seemingly small and common and, perhaps, easily excused.
But none of us are perfect. Not one. Only God is. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Him.