This last week I have seen plenty of events making international and local news. Events which have been disappointing from my natural perspective. However I wish to share an interesting revelation I had about disappointment and the way in which God works.
The first disappointment was the sorrow of the massive earthquake which rocked Nepal and killed thousands of innocent individuals. The second was the decision of the Indonesian government to execute, rather than continue to jail, eight convicted drug smugglers. The third disappointment was the loss by decision experienced by Manny Pacquiao.
Each of these three events were disappointing for different reasons. The first was purely disappointing because of the sheer tragedy of the event. The second was disappointing because I, like many other Australians, had hoped that the two Australians might be given a second chance to continue to reform other prisoners (i.e. to preach the gospel and continue the good work God was doing through them) rather than be senselessly executed. The third was disappointing not purely because Manny lost, but because of the nature of the loss - with Floyd Mayweather Jr. acting in such an arrogant manner and running and clinching for most of the 'fight' rather than fighting like a real champion.
The revelation I had however is this: God's plans are so much bigger than any disappointment in life. Ephesians 6:12 says "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Each of these three disappointments could lead people to want to be angry with other people, or with God, but the revelation I had is that our real struggle is deeper. It's not against the causes of an earthquake, or the executioners of prisoners or with arrogant prize-fighters. The real struggle is with the spirits and attitudes behind such events.
Obviously this doesn't remove the disappointment, but it's important to know that even if something disappointing happens, that God has bigger and better reasons and plans than we ever know. It's not about WHAT happens, but HOW you let it happen. And that to me is all the difference. You can't control a natural disaster, but you can control how you react to that disaster. You can't control the fact that the death penalty unfairly exists, but you can control how you go to die. You can't control the fact that in a boxing fight one guy fights in a way which is technically fine but yet may not be honorably fine. In fact you can't control anything in life really except your own response to how things happen.
And in all these disappointments I have seen friends responding with compassion to the victims in Nepal. I have seen outcries of anger at the Indonesian government of course, but I have also seen the legacy that those two men left behind in preaching the gospel and forgiving those men who executed them. I have seen people frustrated over how the fight went with Mayweather 'running and hugging' and acting in a manner that is far from a champion (I'm one of them). But you know what I also saw? I saw Manny Pacquiao use the biggest sporting stage this world has likely seen to proclaim boldly that 'Jesus is the name of the Lord' and that all glory belongs to a God who can make something from nothing.
You know who was able to do something similar in the Bible? Job! In Job 1:21, after losing everything, Job has the most powerful revelation of God's grace and the fact that he is mighty and in control. "And he said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.'" I hope that I can learn this lesson too that Job understood: that everything belongs to the Lord - and His name is as Manny Pacquiao proclaimed is Jesus.
As I am learning: 1 Corinthians 10:31 "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." And that's what I want to do, in season and out of season, and through every disappointment and excitement!