What is your first reaction when someone says “Nothing is impossible for God”? Or when you hear “He’s so faithful!”?
Maybe you’re the person whose heart jumps in agreement, and you find yourself yelling out a hearty ‘amen’ in response. You’ve seen God show up numerous times, more than you can count, and you’ve come to a place where you would jump blindfolded into an open pit if God said to because you have no doubts about the hand of God in your life, and the prospect of God showing up when you aren’t sure how things are going to work out just thrills you!
…But maybe you’re the person whose heart actually sinks. Your stomach clenches just a little bit when you hear those expressions. And it’s because there’s that one thing that always nags in the back of your mind. Maybe it’s your kids: why hasn’t God changed their hard heart? Maybe it’s your spouse: when will God meet your expectations for a godly and intimate marriage? Maybe it’s your lack of spouse: Does God see your lonely heart? Maybe it’s your barrenness: How long will you bear this burden of desiring a child and go without? Maybe it’s news of a pregnancy: How could God add this to the insecure and uncertain place you’re already in? Maybe it’s your job: How long will God keep you where you are burning out? Maybe it’s your unemployment: How long will God keep silent on the job-front? Maybe it’s your church… Your friendships… Your weaknesses. …It’s the thing that you are not really able to admit you doubt God on, but when you hear those expressions of God’s total power and ability, you find yourself steeling up your heart against the thought because you can’t bear the reality. Your heart doesn’t know what to do with this great disappointment. If nothing is impossible with God, why hasn’t He done something about ________?
And sometimes it seems like the good and godly desires are the heaviest ones–why give the desire if you don’t provide for it, God?
But here’s the thing.
What if the greatest disappointment in your life is the very thing that God has been and is and will use to cause you to treasure the beauty of Christ? What if the pain you have, are, and will face causes you to be more enthralled with the glory of the gospel than you were before? What if the very thing that causes you deep anguish and mourning is what forces you to fix your gaze on the Great Shepherd?
Let me tell you that this kind of surrender is impossible to agree too. Everything in me grieves at the thought that God will never provide for my greatest longing. I feel as if to be okay with it is equivalent to slicing open my heart with a dull knife and pouring vinegar and salt into it. My heart falls like a brick and shatters. There is nothing I like about the thought of my greatest longing never provided for. To admit this breaks my heart like it’s never been broken.
…But here is the crux of it: Even more than this longing, my heart desires to know the beauty of Christ and to be consumed by it. I know the life-giving nature of Jesus’ beauty. I know the deep steady peace that comes from abiding in Jesus. I know that Jesus is life. And so, because I’ll give anything to know and have it. ….Including never tasting the fulfillment of my longings.
I think this is what Paul means when he says in Colossians when he says, “Set your mind on things above” (Colossians 3:1), or in Philippians when he says, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14), or in Ephesians when he prays that the church may be “strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:16-17).
True worship is worship that requires the death of anything that we long for more than Christ.
What this means is I have two choices before me: will I cling to the hope that one day God might give me what I long for, or will I cling to Christ? Will I continue to mourn my loss of what will or will not be, or will I cling to Christ? Will I be overwhelmed by all I am ‘giving up’, or will I cling to Christ?
….Will I continue to cling to this hope-turned-idol my heart has wrapped in its death grip, or will I allow this great and painful and devastating disappointment to direct my gaze back at the only One who deserves anything, especially my worship?
And here’s something else: God has not called you to have faith for tomorrow. He hasn’t even called you to trust and obey Him in the coming hour. Only right now. …And now. …And again, now. Trust and obey Him in this moment. Fix your gaze on Him just now. And then do it again, now. …And on and on. But walk moment by moment trusting that the only thing more certain than our own desires is the promise of God’s faithfulness. …And His faithfulness is not a feeling. It’s a fact. And so, walking each moment trusting that whatever befalls you, God will use it to glorify Himself and to grow your enthralment of His Beauty. …Which means your greatest disappointment can be the means for your greatest worship.