Happy Thanksgiving!

I have so much to be thankful for – and serving a God who is wildly, passionately in love with me is at the top of the list. My list is long, and I’m hoping yours is, too. I have a roof over my head and am well fed. I’m blessed to be able to write this blog and am involved in a number of other meaningful ministries. I have a wonderful marriage and good family and friends. I have my own business that is moderately successful and gives me a degree of freedom over my schedule. That freedom allows me to be involved in events at my mom’s nursing home and other daytime activities that I might otherwise have to miss. Of course I could get more specific and the list would begin to bore you.

Yet for each of those things, it would be easy for me to add a “but…”

  • I have a roof over my head, but that roof needs to be replaced and I can’t afford to do it.
  • I am blessed to write this blog, but I don’t have time to do all the many additional things I dream about – truly taking Apprehending Grace Ministries from being simply this blog and a few other things to being a vibrant ministry.
  • I have a moderately successful business, but there are so many stresses with owning a small business these days.
  • I have a wonderful marriage, but…

You get the idea. For every aspect of our lives, we have a choice – to look at the blessing or to look at the disappointment. The disappointment might be real or imagined, but either way, it mitigates the joy we feel when we think of the blessing. I find that the disappointment we experience falls into two categories:

  • “Not yet” disappointment – that is, disappointment in what you haven’t yet seen, received or accomplished.
  • Experienced disappointment – reality crashed into your expectations.

Both find their solution in God.

Experienced Disappointment

We will experience disappointments and sorrow in this life. Things will break and people will die. Life will crush in and our hopes will be shattered in Humpty Dumpty fashion. We can hold onto that disappointment, or we can give it to the One who cares for us more than we’ll ever be able to comprehend.

28Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11 (NLT)

I find that dealing with life’s shattering disappointments makes me weary. There’s no better word for it. Weary is more than just tired, it’s overburdened and tired. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines weary as “exhausted in strength, endurance, vigor, or freshness.” Phil’s family would describe it as “all used up.”

Jesus says “Come to me when you are all used up. Come to me when your strength, endurance, vigor or freshness is gone.” I love that the word “freshness” is included in the definition. When you have become stale and are about to become moldy – “come to me.”

And once you’re there – give him all your disappointments, your worries and your cares.

Give your burdens to the Lord. He will carry them. He will not permit the godly to slip or fall.

Psalm 55:22 (TLB)

Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.

1 Peter 5:7 (TLB)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7

If a “but” is taking the joy out of your blessing, you are carrying burdens you need not carry. Go to Jesus – the yoke He has for you fits you perfectly. Once there, give Him all your “buts” – and don’t take them back again. Let Him deal with them for you. (Remember, He is always working in the background to cause all things to work for your good if you continue to pursue Him.) Give God your “buts” today – then just focus on the blessings.

“Net Yet” Disappointment

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.

Psalm 13:12 (NLT)

“Not yet” disappointment is the disappointment in ourselves and/or God, that our dreams have not yet been fulfilled. Scripture validates our feeling of disappointment, but that doesn’t mean we ought to dwell there. It also validates that fulfilled dreams bring life and joy.

Pray into your unfulfilled dreams. Trust God to bring them. “Not yet” disappointment teeters on the brink of lack of faith. Push past the lack of faith into the knowledge that God is on the move! You don’t see it yet, but He is moving to bring about the hopes and dreams that are within His will and those hopes and dreams will be more fulfilling than you imagine.

Live life on purpose! Don’t just hope for your dreams to come true and don’t just pray into your unfulfilled dreams – do whatever there is for you to do today to help your dreams come true tomorrow.

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

James 2:26 (NIV)

Believe God for your dreams and work toward them. Make your life a “no excuse” zone. When you’ve given your energies toward praying and making your dreams happen, you cannot be disappointed in yourself. When you know that you know that you know that God is working on your behalf, you cannot be disappointed in Him.

For All Disappointment

King David knew a thing or two about disappointment. One of my favorite passages in Psalms was written by him in a period of disappointment. You probably know this Psalm – it begins with the well-known verse “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1, NRSV) Clearly this is a Psalm written in a time of disappointment. Yet David has found the secret to dealing with that disappointment. Read on:

5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and 6my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.


8 By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

Psalm 42:5,-6, 8 (NIV)

In the midst of his weariness, David speaks to his own soul – he instructs it to bring it into alignment with true reality. “Put your hope in God” he says. True reality is not what we see and hear and feel around us. Our emotions lie to us regularly. I woke up this morning wanting to cry for no reason – I was just feeling sad. I could come up with reasons I might be feeling this way and it’s tempting to do that. Life makes more sense to me when I can justify my feelings – but that’s just what it is – justifying them. Why justify them, when instead I can instruct them as David did? “Why are you so downcast, soul of mine? Rejoice in God! He is my Great Redeemer and my life. He lives in heavenly places and never ceases to pray for me. He is my hope and my salvation. He is my friend. He longs to whisper His secrets in my ear.” How much more edifying that is than figuring out why I might be sad. (Don’t hear what I’m not saying – there is a time to work through our emotions, but there is also a time for setting them aside knowing that they are simply lying to us or trying to sabotage us or divert us from God’s purposes.)

Peter has a final instruction that is worth noting here:

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8 (NRSV)

We do have power to redirect our thoughts, and using this power changes our perspective and our attitudes.

Let’s Leave the “But” Out

I have a blessed life. That blessed life is diminished when I let the “buts” of Satan rob me of the joy of the blessing.

Friends, may I encourage you to silence your buts this Thanksgiving and then continue the practice throughout the holiday season and 2011. Make it a lifestyle choice you make today.

Stay tuned – check out tomorrow’s blog titled “But In…”

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