Life is full of ups and down. At times we experience joy because of the events that happen in our lives. Other times we are discouraged and hurting...also because of the events in our lives.
We have often been told that God doesn't disappoint. But I'd respectfully disagree.
In John 11, Mary and Martha send word to Jesus that Lazarus is sick. And Jesus says the sickness won't end in death. And then stays right where he is as Lazarus dies. The scriptures literally say, "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days." The messengers return to Mary and Martha and give the report: "It's not going to end in death." And Lazarus promptly dies.
Mary and Martha are disappointed. They were hurt, grieving, and feeling abandoned by their friend, Jesus.
When Jesus finally showed up, Martha says, "If you'd been here, Lazarus would not have died." And she's right. Jesus could have come and healed. Or he even could have healed from a distance. Instead, he let Lazarus die. Yes, he had a greater plan. But...in the meantime...they were disappointed.
Which gets to the point: We have a right to expect THAT God will love us. The scriptures say that he does. But...we have no right to dictate HOW his love must be shown. Jesus knows how it all turns out. But I'm pretty sure we don't.
We can become disappointed and disillusioned- not just with our calling and ministry, but even with God...when we place upon God actions consistent with our expectations of how His love must be shown in our lives. In other words, I will be disappointed when, as Keller puts it, I judge God's love by my circumstances rather than judging my circumstances by His love. And sometimes, the greater thing is for God to grow me through the trials and cause me to lean more heavily on him.
In the end, both life and ministry are hard. Victories will come and go. So will disappointments. Don't anchor yourself to circumstances or situations. Or you'll become enslaved to them and your happiness will become dependent on circumstances outside your control.
Your God loves you. Jesus died for you. And that's enough.
Brian Robinson is the pastor of Layman Church in Roanoke, Virginia. His favorite verse is, “you will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you. Because he trusts in you.”