Not “Why?” but “What Now?”

When I was single, I remember always struggling financially to provide for myself. I had some great jobs but it just seemed like I was just barely getting by each month paying for rent, food and my bills. Now don’t get me wrong…I was extremely thankful that each month everything got paid…even if it was barely getting by with really no money left over. But I remember hoping and praying that one day I would be married and that my husband and I would be more secure financially.

When I met my husband Billy, he did well financially with 2 businesses. I remember thinking… “Thank you Jesus for answering my prayers! Now I won’t have to struggle financially and live paycheck to paycheck each month!”

When Billy and I were first married, we lived in a beautiful house, drove nice cars, had great jobs, and had a great marriage. But my hopes and expectations of a financially secure future were short-lived when the economy declined ending my “dream life” expectations.

To make a long story short… we lost our home, my car, and faced major pay cuts with both our jobs. And to top it off, we had our first child! (Yes truly a blessing from God…but how many of you know babies will cost you some money!) I was so disappointed…this was not my idea of how I would have liked to celebrate our first years of marriage! My expectations were no longer being met and this led to great disappointment.

Have you been disappointed lately?

Webster’s dictionary defines the word disappointment as “failure to satisfy the hope, desire or expectation of.”

Life can be full of disappointments. People will disappoint us….our circumstances will disappoint us. We experience disappointments when our expectations are not met. Many times our immediate cry to God is “Why, Lord?”… “Why God is this happening to me?”

Satan’s goal is to bring us down with our disappointments. He will try to push us down a road…a gradual road…until we are defeated. I saw a great illustration that describes this gradual “wedge” that can invade our spirits.

Disappointment Triangle

If we make the decision to let disappointment fester, the wedge is driven a little farther and we experience discouragement. If unchecked, discouragement becomes disillusionment. The wedge is driven deeper when it proceeds to depression…and ultimately we end in defeat.

How can we prevent the penetration of this deadly “wedge” into our spirits? As Christians, how should we respond to life’s disappointments?

The Bible is full of men and women that experienced disappointments. A young woman named Leah is a great biblical example of someone who faced life’s disappointments…So how did she handle these disappointments?

Leah’s story is found in Genesis 29-30. If you aren’t familiar with these chapters, check them out  to better understand the example Leah is for us today.

These chapters exemplify that Leah certainly had her share of disappointments….even in the brevity of her story with her name only appearing 28 times in the bible!

If we take a look at these chapters more closely, we can see the disappointments that Leah faced.

1)      In Genesis 29:17…Leah is referred to as having “weak eyes” whereas her younger sister Rachel “was lovely in form and beautiful.”  Hmmm…I would venture to guess that Leah had some disappointments growing up alongside beautiful Rachel and not being considered as pretty as her.

2)      Leah’s father Laban uses her to coax more years of work out of Jacob by giving her away to marry Jacob and not Rachel, the woman Jacob truly loved. If I were Leah, I too would certainly be disappointed in seeing this behavior and deception from my own father!

3)      Leah’s week long wedding reception with Jacob is not much of a celebration…knowing that afterwards, she will suffer through another 7 days when her “pretty sister” Rachel is the center of attention for marrying her husband Jacob too. So now her husband gets to also marry the woman he has always loved! Talk about another disappointment!

Leah has to bear the burden of living with the knowledge that she is not desired or loved by Jacob…living with the disappointment of being married to a man who never chose to marry her and consequently feeling unloved by him.

4)      And finally, Leah bears a son to Jacob when Rachel remains barren. She hopes that this son will give Jacob a reason to finally love her…but her hopes again lead to disappointment.

Leah certainly had a lot to be disappointed about…don’t you think? But how did she handle her disappointments? What decision did she make?

Although Leah was rejected and not loved by Jacob, she remained loyal and devoted. Not only did she love Jacob but she also loved God with all her heart.

Leah bore six sons and one daughter from Jacob but there is something very interesting to see through the names that Leah gives her first 4 children. We see not only Leah’s devotion to God but also the progression from her disappointment and desperate cry for Jacob’s love… to her praising God. Praising and thanking her God!

1st son Reuben meaning “behold a son”

2nd son Simeon meaning “hearing” or “God has heard me.”

3rd son Levi which means “joined” or “to adhere to”

4th son Judah which means “praise”

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah… Genesis 29:35 NIV

Even though bearing children for Jacob didn’t change his feelings towards her, the children were a blessing that would capture her heart. Through these children, “unloved” Leah was much loved.

Leah praised God…even through her disappointments…disappointments by Jacob, disappointments by her own father, and disappointments by her circumstances….she praised God. She found something…in this case…her children to be thankful for!

When we are faced with life’s disappointments, we have a decision to make. We can choose to focus on our disappointment or focus on our God.

We can choose to be thankful…for something…anything! Being thankful turns our attention away from our disappointment and on to God. No matter what we are going through, we can find something to be thankful for. A heart of gratitude will change our attitude!

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1Thessalonians 5:18 NLT

Being thankful furthermore leads us to ask “What now, Lord?” versus “Why, Lord?” We have a tendency to ask God “why” when we are going through disappointments in our life. And focusing on the “Why, Lord?” prevents us from moving forward.

”Why, Lord?” focuses on our disappointment…. “What now, Lord?” pushes us past our disappointment.

“Why, Lord?” keeps you in the past…. “What now, Lord?” uses the “now” to push you on to the future.

God doesn’t want us to focus on the “Why?” but the “What now?”

Leah praised God for Judah and the “What now” …her praises… which resulted in Judah being the very generational family line that our Savior Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, would come!

When my husband and I faced our disappointing financial circumstances, I can honestly say I went through a “Why, Lord?” period… But thankfully I didn’t stay focused on the “Why, Lord?” As a result, the “What now, Lord?” pushed my husband and I to eventually being blessed by amazing new jobs and being better stewards of our finances.

Pushing through and past our disappointments are not easy and certainly doesn’t minimize our pain or struggle, but God will honor our gratitude and our willingness to move forward.

Don’t ask “Why, Lord?”…Ask “What now, Lord?”

Reflection Points:

1)      Have you been disappointed lately? Are you having a difficult time handling life’s disappointments?

2)      Do you find yourself focusing on your disappointments pushing you down a gradual road to final defeat?

3)      Do you find yourself asking God, “Why, Lord?” when facing disappointments?

Action Points:

1)      Begin thanking the Lord in the midst of your disappointments. We all have something to be thankful for. You will begin to see your attention moving from your disappointment to God.

2)      Stop asking “Why, Lord?” and begin asking “What now, Lord?” This will help you use your present to push you to the future instead of staying in your present disappointment.

3)      Pray that God will show you what your “What now, Lord?” is. He loves you and wants to see you move past your disappointments!

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