KEY IDEA from Sarah:
The story of Moses and the Israelites is full of disappointment (Exodus 1:8-16). Life was harsh for the Israelites: 400 years of persecution, oppression, and slavery. Moses came to rescue them and God was to lead them to a new life, to Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. They must have started their journey full of expectation. BUT GOD LED THE ISRAELITES INTO THE WILDERNESS.
The Israelites complained. They complained about the route they were taking, the food. They were deeply disappointed. The distance between Egypt and Southern Canaan (the Promised Land) was 150 miles. That trip should have taken less than a month. But God didn’t take them the direct route. He took them through the wilderness. Why? Why did they have to experience so much disappointment?
SNAPSHOT adapted from Daniel Hans, God on the Witness Stand (Baker, 1987)*:
In 1987 Daniel Hans released a book containing some of the sermons he preached throughout his daughter’s battle with cancer and in the period immediately after her death. Hans relates how he once surveyed his congregation, asking them about their disappointments with God. He asked them to share things they had hoped God would do but that God didn’t. People described times they had prayed for the life of a newborn child only to see it die, of the hope God would protect his people from violence only to hear of an elderly woman being stabbed on her way to church, prayed for rain for famine stricken Africa only to see starvation continue. To these disappointments Hans now added his own – he had hoped God would heal his baby girl, but her condition only grew worse.
Hans suggests that disappointments like these are the stuff of life, and that if we read the Scriptures we discover that alongside the stories of miracles and amazing feats by God we hear story after story of disappointment with God, of times God appears silent and inactive.
To read more of this story go to http://www.preaching.com/sermons/11565500
PERSONAL STORY from Rachel:
This is one of the key areas I would rather hide away from rather than start a discussion about. A couple of years ago I was feeling bold and texted (not bold enough to actually speak!) one of my mum friends who has spent years trying to have another baby and suffering with multiple miscarriages. I wrote something like, ‘you probably know I’m a Christian and I really want to pray for you’. Amazingly, a few weeks later, she came up to me in the local supermarket to tell me she was pregnant. We were both really happy. She was really thankful for the prayer. When I texted her a couple of weeks later, she had lost the baby. I just wanted to hide – I didn’t feel able to talk to her about it properly and I felt awkward as if I hadn’t prayed hard enough.
I am sure you have many similar stories – you feel you are getting somewhere with deepening friendships and introducing God through praying for people. This is great when it forms part of an amazing testimony years later, but what do you say when things don’t go the way we have earnestly been praying?
What we are about to share over the next week should hopefully speak into situations like mine. If we can grasp the reasons why God allows us to experience disappointment, we may be able to speak more usefully to our friends instead of shrinking away from the angry questions we convince ourselves our friends are going to have for us.
Over the next 24 hours, have a think how you would explain why God allows disappointment and see if you can add to the ideas we will be posting. And do you agree with Shakespeare that ‘expectation is the root of all heartache’? Is it better just to expect less in order to avoid disappointment?
Remember, God didn’t take the Israelites the direct route. He took them through the wilderness. Why? Why did they have to experience so much disappointment?
Read the first reason in tomorrow’s article! Like to leave you on a …