I spent weeks studying, thinking, planning. This lesson was a big opportunity to teach faithful, fruitful followers of Jesus – people who are involved in efforts that impact tens of thousands of people. I wanted to do a good job. I wanted to have a positive impact on these people. I wanted to make the Lord’s Kingdom stronger. I tried to guard against it, but, deep down, I wanted to be grouped with the best – the top of the profession. In spite of the effort and planning, the lesson did not go well. I stumbled over some details. I got a few things out of order. I didn’t have a good ending. When the lesson was over, the listeners were very cordial, but they had little to say. Many people said something like, “that was a good lesson,” but they did not say it with much passion, and almost no one had anything specific to point out. I have delivered enough sermons to know when people were unmoved. These people were unmoved. And I was crest-fallen.
Why does God allow these things to happen? Even when you are trying to do good things, sometimes you have bad days. Sometimes you perform poorly. Sometimes, you crash in the biggest moments. For at least one thing, disappointments teach humility. 1 Corinthians 12 verses 7-9 say, “to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” Disappointments remind us that success comes from God, not our hard work or worthiness. Further, they remind us that even if we never accomplish anything, if we never add any value to God’s work, he saves us anyway as long as we walk in faith. Faith in him, not faith in ourselves. Where do you put your faith?