Peninsula Community Church
Its A Wonderful Life – Part 2
December 13, 2015
Isaiah 9:2-7 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Last week we began a series entitled Its A Wonderful Life and we focused on what if Christ had not been born. Today I would like to look at another aspect of this discussion. The key theme that runs through the movie is that George Bailey had reached a point in his life where he believed that the world would be better off without him. For that reason we find George standing on the bridge just outside of time where he he is considering taking the plunge because he wants to end his life. But before he can do so we find Clarence, an angel, jump in the stare first so that George would rescue him. You see George was his guardian angel and was assigned the task of helping overcome his problems. He gives George the opportunity to visualize what life would be like if he had never lived.
What led him to his decision to take his life in the first place? You see he faced disappointment, discouragement; and he felt he was on a path of failure or at least he thought he was. Let me ask you a question? What kinds of things disappoint you? My guess is what disappoints you may not disappoint someone else. Disappointment is often triggered by unmet needs and desires. There is no doubt that disappointment can be painful, regardless of the magnitude or size of the issue leading to the disappointment. Disappointments cause us to fear and doubt and as a result we can lose hope. The writer of Proverbs reminds us that Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12). You know how it is when disappointment comes we find ourselves sick to our stomachs and life seems to spiral out of control and suddenly we wander around life with doubts and regrets. We begin to live in the “what ifs,” “should haves,” and the “could haves.”
Disappointment can be defined as being not settled. Webster defines disappointment as, failing to meet the expectation of or hope of something. It is being frustrated with an event in your life. To be disappointed is to be defeated in expectation. So, when we say that something is disappointing we are saying that that particular issue failed to meet our expectations.
Discouragement means to cause one to lose confidence or enthusiasm. The literal meaning of the word discourage is to “express reversal.” You know how it works. An event or an action happens to you and it causes a reversal of how we feel. Instead of confidence and safety we feel unsettled and life feels as if it is out of control. We begin to look at life in a totally different way and we begin to look at others differently as well. And way too often we begin to look inwardly and begin to cast doubt on our worth at some level.
Last week we read from Paul’s writings to the Romans where he stated that we know that all things work together for the good of those who are called by God. That is a very real statement and it is a reality but our faith is tested when good does not happen. We question God’s love for us. We feel like a failure and we feel that we have lost hope. Does anyone know what I mean?
If you will let me relate a personal experience with you. It began at Christmas 2004. I was on staff at a Baptist church in Virginia. During a one year period we faced not one but multiple levels of disappointment that resulted in discouragement, fear, and at times anger. The first news was that the senior pastor of our church was resigning and would be leaving the church by the end of the year. We received the news the Thursday before he made the announcement to the church. You see in the Baptist church when a pastor leaves and a new one comes in, most likely the whole staff can be changed. We were devastated because we thought we had a better relationship with the pastor and we were concerned because we thought we might have to find a job within a month at Christmas time.
One week later we received a phone call from our son to let us know that he had been living with his girlfriend, she was pregnant and he could not marry her because he had to get a divorce first. We knew none of this until a 45 minute conversation on the phone. In March they hired the new senior pastor who was the youth pastor. He was 17 years my younger. I had been overlooked and to top it off they asked me to mentor him and help him be a better pastor. I agreed outwardly but inwardly I was devastated, disappointed, and so discouraged. It was only three months later that we found ourselves in the hospital where Michelle stayed for over a week and had every test under the sun ran on her. It was here that the original diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis was made. We felt a darkness overwhelm us and we we so discouraged. Once again outwardly we put on a good front but inwardly we were crushed and devastated. Michelle and I know disappointment and discouragement.
As we dig into our text this morning we find that the Israelites were also in a state of darkness and discouragement because they had faced great disappointment. The nation had walked in sin which led them into captivity. They were being brutally assaulted by their captors. The future hope of being great nation was lost. Their discouragement and disappointment was being revealed as darkness. Their emotions and their life was now darkened. But Isaiah gave them hope and that is the hope we have today.
When we consider disappointment and discouragement we must consider a couple of factors. First of all disappointment happens. It occurs when our expectations are not met or we receive news that is not expected. Disappointment is a reality of our lives. It can be minor or major disappointments or it can be a series of disappointments that negatively impact us. These disappointments lead us to discouragement and fear. Disappointment comes as well when we work hard at something and the results are not what we expected.
Disappointment can be self inflicted because we have false expectations and an over confidence in the action of others and our own ability. If you are alive today, you have faced disappointment. Our children, our parents, our friends, our employers, our co-workers, and our bodies can disappoint us. They fail to live up to our expectations or they do dumb things that cause us to react negatively to their actions. The circumstances of life can also cause us to reach this level of disappointment.
One of the reasons that disappointment effects so much is that we fail to understanding that life is not always fair. Life will deal us lemons. We also live with the misconception that people will treat us the way we want to be treated and do things the right way. It doesn’t matter whether you are born with a silver spoon, plastic spoon, or no spoon at all. It’s not the circumstances by which you come into this world, but what you make of them once you arrive that really matter.
In connection with this we must know that all of us are impacted by disappointment. It happens to the best of us. It rains on the just and the unjust. Here is the truth, bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. Matthew 5:43-48 “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Secondly, we must understand that our disappointments and discouragements can lead us into darkness. Disappointment can blind us to the realities of life. Disappointments can cause our hearts to be closed off and our minds to be shut off from truth. Disappointment can cause us to focus so much on the problem that we miss the bigger picture. One of the problems with disappointment and discouragement is that we become myopic in our vision for life because disappointment overwhelms us. In essence, our emotions and dreams can be darkened and the light of hope can be extinguished.
In all of this we must remember that Christ has come. As we see in our text today, Christ came to shine his light into our hearts. The Israelites were led into captivity. The Assyrians were rising in power and many of their leaders had died. They were living in a turbulent time and they were filled with disappointment and failures. They did not have an easy life. They were in turmoil and they were disappointed with their circumstances and they were discouraged by the events of their life. But they had a promise. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. A child has been born and the world’s problems are on His shoulders. Know this, He is not surprised by the things that you are experiencing today.
For us today that promise has been fulfilled. He has come. He is here. Therefore we need to turn to the one who is the wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting father, and the prince of peace. He has it all under control. He is at work and when we turn to Him a light is shone into the darkness. We receive hope. We receive life. It reminds me of a familiar hymn written so many years ago, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.
How are you doing today? Has your heart been darkened by disappointment or discouragement? You can rise again from the darkness of ruined lives. If you hang in there the light of God’s love will shine brightly again, so that while the circumstance of your life may not change, your heart can. Your outlook on life can. You purpose in life can be reestablished. And as George Bailey realized life is worth living and your life has value because you are a child of God and the light of hope has been shined into your life.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom