Dealing with Disappointment in Ourselves

Gary Wilkerson

Some time ago, I was at a meeting where I preached a sermon on disappointment. After the service, I was talking with a highly successful and well-known pastor. As we chatted, he said something that stopped me in my tracks. He said, “Man, I'm so disappointed with myself.” At first, I was speechless, then I said, “You are? Well then, is there any hope for the rest of us if you’ve had such success and yet you're disappointed with yourself?”

Later, while thinking about that conversation and the pastor’s startling revelation, I realized that he was just admitting to a struggle that we all have. Everyone makes mistakes, and every one of us fails on a regular basis. We try to hold ourselves to an impossibly high standard by thinking, “Oh, I can’t allow myself to fail. I can never stumble.”

Failure isn’t the problem, though. Proverbs says, “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again…” (Proverbs 24:16, NKJV). It doesn't say he never stumbles; it says that he keeps on trying. We aren’t failures unless we stay down.

There will always be times when we let ourselves and others down and become frustrated. For example, when I come home in the evening, one of my goals is to take time and be present with my wife. But sometimes I come home, and by the time I get to bed, I realize that I didn't do that at all. I'm disappointed with myself, but I realize that is not evil. Rather, the evil – the defeat – is staying in that moment of failure. Instead, I can own it and use this self-awareness to drive me to God, toward real change.

I wish I had told my pastor friend, “It's okay to be disappointed with yourself; we humans constantly fall short of expectations.” The key is to be patient during those times of failure and let God use them for our benefit. It's a lifetime journey, but through the Spirit and the Word, God provides us with the encouragement and direction we need to finish strong.

Mending Broken Bones

Jim Cymbala

Paul wrote, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2, ESV).

Okay, this is where someone has committed an external, outward sin. This isn’t walking around, looking to rebuke everyone because you thought you saw something wrong in them. I grew up for a short while around that kind of stuff, really pride ‘spirituality.’ A person’s done nothing outwardly, but you have people who come up to them and say, “I see a spirit of jealousy in you. I rebuke you for that.”

The other person says, “What did I do?”

“Oh, I don’t know, but there’s jealousy. Now I want to try to restore you.”

“Uh, no. Don’t restore me. Restore yourself, and get away from me.” But this kind of response would bring judgment, and we’d have a big rebuking contest on our hands. Everybody rebuking everyone else for what they perceive to be a shortcoming. We should just have a big dose of humility because we’re not all that ourselves.

What Paul’s talking about is someone caught in open sin, and he orders believers to restore them gently. The word ‘restore’ there is the same sort of meaning as mending a bone. You don’t amputate every time something breaks! Remember, believers are members of the body. This is a body we’re talking about. When someone falls into sin, you don’t get angry with them. If I fell and skinned my knee, would I start yelling, “What’s wrong with you, knee? Let’s amputate this knee!” No. You don’t do that. You take extra good care of the wounded member. You try to help them.

Paul is saying that this is what Christ wants us to do in the church, and he commands this to those of you who are living by the Spirit, you know, the mature believers. This is why he wrote, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). Brother and sister, let’s get better at this gentle mending of bones.

Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson. 

While the Foundations Are Shaking

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

While all the foundations of the world are shaking, Satan roars like a lion, and there is confusion, violence and uncertainty. Those who trust in the Lord, though, will see God's salvation with hearts and minds at peace. They can enjoy rest and sweet sleep, unafraid of conditions around them.

I give you some glorious promises of God for all who trust in him in these perilous times.

• “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; he is a shield to all who trust in him” (2 Samuel 22:31, NKJV).

• “Show your marvelous lovingkindness by your right hand, O you who save those who trust in you from those who rise up against them” (Psalm 17:7).

• “Oh, how great is your goodness, which you have laid up for those who fear you, which you have prepared for those who trust in you in the presence of the sons of men” (Psalm 31:19)!

• “You shall hide them in the secret place of your presence from the plots of man; you shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues” (Psalm 31:20).

• “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24).

• “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5).

• “But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him” (Psalm 37:39-40).

• “In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me” (Psalm 56:4)?

• “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah” (Psalm 62:8).

• “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever” (Psalm 125:1).

• “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

The only safeguard against Satan's evil devices is to face him with the promises of God. God's Word is still all-powerful, and the devil still trembles when we stand firm with this sword in hand. Today, now, take your stand.

A Mirror of the Lord

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’” (Acts 7:55-56 NKJV)!

Stephen represented the essence of a true Christian. He was full of the Holy Ghost, and he mirrored God’s glory in a way that all who saw it were amazed and filled with wonder. His steady gaze was fixed on Christ, and he was wholly occupied with a glorified Savior. Stephen, a charismatic leader of the early church, was a man who boldly preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This was unpopular with some of the Jewish authorities, and they accused him of blasphemy. Arrested and hauled before the Council of the Sanhedrin, Stephen still refused to back down, and before long, the crowd became ugly and violent.

Look at the hopeless condition Stephen was in. He was surrounded by religious madness, superstition, prejudice and jealousy. The angry mob pressed in on him, wild-eyed and bloodthirsty, and death by stoning loomed just ahead. What impossible circumstances!

Stephen knew where to look. His gaze turned upward, and he beheld his Lord in glory. Suddenly his rejection here on earth meant nothing to him. Now he was above it all, seeing him who was invisible. The stones and the angry cursing could not harm him because of the joy set before him.

One glimpse of Christ's glory lifts us above our circumstances and gives us a peace and serenity that nothing else can. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Stephen caught the rays of the Holy Spirit and reflected them to a Christ-rejecting society. We, too, become what we behold.  We in the mirror reflect Christ, the object of our affection, and are transformed as we gaze upon him.

When the enemy comes in and troubling circumstances get us down, we need to both amaze and condemn the world around us with our sweet, restful repose in Christ. Since we see by our spiritual mind, this is accomplished by keeping our minds firmly fixed on him.

The Unrelenting Love of God

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Let’s talk about the word “unrelenting.” It means undiminished in intensity or effort, unyielding, uncompromising, incapable of being changed or persuaded by arguments.

Unrelenting, constant, sustained, never-ending — what a marvelous description of God’s love! Nothing can hinder or diminish his loving pursuit of both sinners and saints. The Psalmist put it perfectly: “You have hedged me behind and before, and laid your hand upon me…Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there” (Psalm 139:5, 7-8 NKJV).

David is speaking of life’s highs and lows. “Sometimes I feel so blessed and filled with joy. At other times, I feel condemned and unworthy; but no matter how I feel or where I am, Lord, you are with me. You never accept my arguments about how unworthy I am. Even when I am disobedient, you never stop loving me. Your love for me is relentless!”

Consider the testimony of the apostle Paul. Here was a man bent on destroying God's church. Paul had a fierce hatred for Christians. He breathed out threats of slaughter against everyone who followed Jesus. He even sought the high priest's authorization to hunt down believers so he could charge into their homes and drag them off to prison.

God’s fervent love for Paul never wavered, even during those hate-filled years. In a letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He was saying, “Even though I wasn't conscious of it, God was pursuing me. He kept coming until he caught up with me and literally knocked me off my high horse. That’s the unrelenting love of God.”

Throughout the rest of his life, Paul’s confidence in God’s faithfulness only grew. “For I am persuaded,” he wrote, “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).