How do you respond to disappointment? I ask this because disappointment is inevitable in life and I'm learning that how you respond makes all the difference. There was one major disappointing factor that I was not prepared for. The truth is, this should not have caught me by the surprise. But it did.
In my city. The place where I am raising my children. The place that I feel called to spend the rest of my ministry career, if it is in the Lord's will... I was hit by a menacing racial slur.
After that split second ensued a whirlwind of emotions that could have caused a terrible reaction.
- I was angry. Who the he## do you think I am? I haven't always been a pastor; we can handle this right now! Thoughts like these ran through my head as I reverted to my “never back down” mentality of my youth.
- I was afraid. I was in an environment where I could have easily been trapped. What if this was the end of the road for me? What pain and suffering would my wife and children have to endure? We just had our third child. Would my wife have to raise our three boys by herself?
- I was disappointed. In 2015, why do I still have to deal with this? Will my kids still have to deal with this 30 years from now? Is this the community my kids have to grow up in? This is the place I am called to pastor?
These emotions could have led to three different responses.
I could have buckled under the fear and accepted a place of inferiority. I could have retaliated, which would have not ended up well in any case. Or, I could have allowed my disappointment to well up into cynicism which would undermine the ministry God has called me to.
I chose none of these responses; I chose grace. Believe me, it wasn't easy!
I chose grace because I was reminded of how, before I submitted my life to God, I was an enemy towards God and my actions towards Him (God) were as heinous (Romans 5:10, Colossians 1:21), if not more, than this man’s words towards me.
While I was spewing hatred for God and asserting myself as superior to Him by openly disregarding His Word, Jesus was being beaten and scourged and nailed to a tree so I would not have to suffer the consequences of my sin (Romans 5:8-9).
If God would be so gracious to me, why couldn’t I be as gracious to this man?
So I decided to just shoot up a prayer for strength, and keep doing what I was doing as if I never heard this remark.
How do you weather the storm of disappointment? What motivates your response?
I’d challenge you to look at every disappointment and every frustration in your life and run it through the lens of the Gospel. Let the reality of God’s grace in your life motivate your response. It may not be easy, but your response can mean life or death momentarily or eternally.