Disappointed? Don’t get cynical now!

Disappointed? Don’t get cynical now!

by Andy Constable

The reality of living and working in an estate area is that there lots of disappointments. We pray, we serve, we hold out the gospel and yet some seem to simply turn their back on it all. This work takes graft and perseverance and a lot of the ‘success’ stories are surrounded by brokenness and discouragement. This is often exacerbated by the fact that Niddrie is a small community and we see the same old faces week in, week out. It can be easy to become cynical or resentful towards people, especially when you see little fruit in their lives. The question I would like to address today is: how do we respond when we are faced with people who disappoint us? There are four things that I have been learning to remind myself when I feel the world is at sea.

Firstly I remind myself that God is sovereign. This is vital. We often get disappointed when things don’t work out as we expected them to. So it’s important to constantly remember that God is sitting on the throne and we are not. God is sovereign over all details of the world. This is what King Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed in the book of Daniel: “…for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted for nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “what have you done?” (Daniel 4:34-35) Nothing is out with his control. This means that he deliberately and intricately works out his will in our lives. We are not in the hands of random fate. We are not whistling in the dark. We are in then hands of the living God. And we know as believers that God “works everything out for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28) Each circumstance we face is used to sanctify us and no situation is wasted. So when things are disappointing I realign myself with God and remember that he controls things and not me.

Secondly I remind myself that God saves, not me. We often get disappointed when we can’t seem to change someone. This is because we can’t. Paul gives us a very startling picture of people before conversion in Ephesians 2:1: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…” Paul describes people as spiritually dead. If a persons dead they are dead. They can’t respond spiritually in anyway. Only God by his spirit can soften people’s heart to the gospel. We are called to preach the gospel faithfully and then pray for God to work. And God in his sovereign grace saves those who he has chosen- Acts 13:48-“And when the gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” It is so important to have a strong belief in God’s election because it reminds us that God changes hearts, not us. We don’t have to worry about the results because they are not down to us! So I don’t need to get disappointed because my efforts aren’t the issue. This should release us to share the gospel again and again.

Thirdly I remind myself Jesus taught his disciples a theology of failure. In particular I remind myself of the parable of the sower. This parable was given by Jesus to remind the disciples that not everyone they preach to will respond to the gospel. Not every person will repent. I mean only one out of the four seeds actually hears the word and bears fruit. That is a 75% failure. That is not a high success rate. The same was true in Jesus’ ministry as people rejected him and his message. The rich young ruler couldn’t give up his riches. The Pharisees cursed him. And even when Jesus appeared to his discples after his resurrection some worshipped while many doubted. Why do we think it is going to be any different for us? It’s not. There will be difficulties and disappointments but we have to remember that Jesus and his disciples faced them too.

Finally I remind myself of God’s faithfulness. One of the things I keep is a diary with verses that have encouraged me and prayers that I have prayed. It helps me to remember that in the midst of this mess that God is working and that I have a lot to give thanks for. It brings to my attention the times when I’ve felt disappointed in the past and the things that I have spoken to my soul in those moments. Thankfulness is a powerful antidote against cynicism and disappointment. It focuses our attention on God’s goodness and away from our frustrations.

Let us continue to be hopeful in the gospel. Continue to be real. Continue to trust in God’s sovereignty. And continue to love, cherish and share the gospel with all who we meet because it is God who saves. Don’t let disappointment rob you of your joy and make you cynical. God sits on the throne and his gospel is bearing fruit and increasing all over the world (Colossians 1:6). God is mighty to save!