“I can’t believe they did that to me! Seriously! After everything I have done for them …” People can be so disappointing. Relationships can be less than fulfilling. Love can be so unreciprocated.
Recently I have experienced how very disappointing life can be. People don’t always feel the same about me as I feel about them. Sometimes I become so disappointed that I think God is disappointing too. Why couldn’t He have just showed up and changed the outcome? He knew exactly what I wanted. Did I really want something so bad that He couldn’t even try to give it to me?
I am reminded of a time when I made my way back to God. I stood in a traditional church alongside my grandparents. Try as I might, I couldn’t force the words of the hymn from my lips. God had betrayed me. How could I sing about how great His faithfulness is? Little did I know that in the years that followed, I would learn He took away what my flesh wanted so He could instead give me the desires of my heart. Love, joy, peace …
The transformation process hasn’t always felt good. I have cried a lot, but they were cleansing tears. He generally doesn’t give me what I think I want. He gives me what I actually need.
As I write, another chapter of my life is closing. I think it may be the first time I wanted a chapter of my life to last longer than it actually did. I didn’t want to move to the next chapter. I liked the last one. It was the first chapter in which I experienced God in a very intimate way in ministry. In it He proved He was faithful, but I thought God failed me when He didn’t extend it.
I accused Him of being unfaithful.
I told Him I was disappointed.
Honestly, I was afraid. Would He be just as present in the next chapter? Would I know Him more?
Last week He brought to mind the beautiful promise of 2 Corinthians 3:18:
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (NIV)
I love the phrase “glory to glory” in the old-fashioned King James version. We are transformed into His image from glory to glory.
He whispered this promise in my heart. No matter what happens in the next chapter of my life, it can be more glorious than the last. No matter what trial or pain it contains, I will always have the choice to follow Jesus and allow Him to transform my character “from glory to glory.”
As I thought about this promise, I considered another promise in Romans 8:18:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
I endured a lot of sacrifice, and with it, suffering, in the chapter that is closing. That is why I liked it so much — it kept me close to His side. Though it hurt, the pain isn’t worth comparing with the character change He worked in my heart along the way. I am actually a person I like being around now. I wasn’t when this chapter started.
I don’t know what will be in the next chapter. Due to the way this chapter closed, I don’t really have any plans, and God hasn’t given me any next steps. Well, He did tell me to wait …
I may not know what will fill my time, but I do know two things about 2017 and beyond: The suffering I endure will not be worth comparing with His glorious character that will be revealed in me, and the next chapter of my life will be more glorious than the ones that preceded it. These two things are guaranteed to me as long as I continue to follow Jesus. My relationship with God will never truly disappoint me.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. –Philippians 1:6 (NLT)