A Pilgrim's GuideDealing with Disappointment
Disappointment can be a silent killer of faith –
yet God wants to inspire our hopes and fulfil our expectations.
In this publication we explore some of the ways in which disappointment strikes
and how we can increase our faith and desire to love and honour God.
May His Spirit be with you and enable you
to escape disappointment’s downward gravitational pull.
A Pilgrim’s Guide to Dealing with Disappointment
Disappointment makes the heart weary
Avoiding Disappointment creep
I will hold the Christ light for you
Keeping the wheels on the wagon: God’s promises to Joshua
Increasing our faith
When we are in a strange place
Weighing results that fail to match our expectations
Disappointment from ‘prophetic’ throwaways
Throwing off the pangs of disappointment
Disappointment makes the heart weary
A heavy heart makes one weary and wary,
therefore guard your heart,
for it determines the course of your whole life.
(Pvbs. 4:32 Morgan)
A simple definition of disappointment might be, ‘Unhappiness caused by our desires and expectations not working out as we had hoped for.’ Repeated disappointments risk making our hearts weary and even cynical.
The physical heart is the pump house of our life, the vital organ from which all other parts of the body derive their function and lend their rhythm. As Brother Ramon put it in ‘The Flame of Love,’ it is the ‘spring of motivation, the seat of the passions, the centre of thought processes and the touchstone of conscience.’
Setbacks, losses and spiritual attacks – we can usually withstand a fair number of these, unless they hook into past griefs and disappointments, in which case their accumulated weight risks tipping us over the edge. Periods of rest may aid recuperation, and reopen blocked channels, but something more radical may be needed to keep disappointment from leading to a spiritual cardiac arrest.
Sooner or later, most Christians reach a point where they feel pinned against the ropes, and all but down and out for the count. This is Moses, finding not only Pharaoh opposing his obedience to God, but his own people as well; this is Jeremiah, undergoing torment and lamenting the cost of his calling; this is Paul, all but foundering beneath pressures that felt too intense even for his incredible powers of endurance. In each case they dug deep.
We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters,
about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia.
We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure,
and we thought we would never live through it.
(2 Cor. 1:8)
If we take as our starting point the thought that God never takes us anywhere He cannot lead us from, we can have real confidence that He can always find a way to handle our disappointments. You can probably think of key times when He has done so in your life.
In this publication we are exploring how disappointment can influence our responses to life’s challenges and make us reluctant to embrace the Lord’s call on our lives. We will make the journey from times when our lives feel as though they are falling apart all the way through to discovering how we can turn disappointments into a greater desire to embrace the Lord and His ways.
Avoiding Disappointment Creep
Disappointment is never passive. It has the potential to infect more areas of our life than the part immediately affected. It can breed unwholesome bacteria in our heart that spreads upward to blame God, outward to criticise and oppose those who have let us down – or it can turn inward to reject the precious things God has done in and through us. Like an infection, whichever way disappointment flows, it triggers serious loss of faith, and with it joy, peace and direction.
Resentment follows hard on its heels, together with other toxins, such as self-pity, envy, bitterness, fear and, inevitably, anger and frustration.
Once disappointment finds a lodging in the depths of the heart, it plays a persistent refrain: ‘I’ve done all this before, and if it didn’t work, then what’s the point of trying again?’ No wonder Scripture tells us to take up the shield of faith with which to extinguish every flaming arrow. (Eph. 6:16) A soldier in hand-to-hand combat who keeps his shield by his side will not last five minutes.
Give an inch to foes like these and horrible spectres threaten to overcome our hearts: namely, Giant Despair (of Pilgrim’s Progress fame) and his more subtle, but none the less deadly twin: Cynicism. By the time these have sucked our hearts dry we no longer have much energy left to indulge emotional responses: we need a full transplant.
So very much better if we can be proactive at a much earlier stage in proceedings and pour out our hearts to God and ask Him to turn our disappointments into His appointments. Almost certainly we will do this best by praying with people we trust. This refreshes our spirits and re-hones our cutting edge, because these people are less likely to be influenced by our sense of unbelief and disappointment.
‘I will hold the Christ-Light for you.’
‘Brother let me be your servant,
let me be as Christ to you.
I will hold the Christ light for you
in the night time of your fear.’
There came a time when I could no longer bear trying to work out my calling in profoundly discouraging surroundings. On the day I reached rock bottom, I did at least remember the counsel I have given to so many others and rang a couple of friends for prayer. One immediately had a picture of me standing with one foot planted in the very place I was finding so difficult, and the other planted elsewhere. Because my front foot was positioned in that way, it balanced the one that found itself in decidedly more comfortable and familiar surroundings. My equivalent of the command to cross the Jordan was therefore a commission to stay put! It greatly bolstered my resolve.
Later that day, another friend pictured the Lord Jesus taking me strongly by the hand and leading me through a field in the fog. Although there was no end to the fog in sight, she could see that there was wheat in the field. My interpretation: the harvest (represented by the wheat) was largely obscured, but it was undoubtedly there, and would surely be revealed in due time. The most important thing was the reassurance that it was the Lord who was directing my steps. Such encouragements are priceless.
Such prayer partnerships are more than a last-ditch rescue act: they are a strategic key for advancing the Kingdom. I had a picture the other day of a group of people imprisoned in wooden desks, securely fastened on the outside by padlocks. It was impossible for them to set themselves free – but it was comparatively easy for others to come along and open the lock for them. Because the rescuers who come alongside do not carry the same emotional baggage, they can help us to gain a better perspective.
What is it that stops us from asking for such help? Usually it is because of some sense of embarrassment or shame. Throw these thoughts away! Even if we are only feeling in a heap, we are still embarked on Kingdom work. If it all feels rather lopsided at present, the time may come when the roles are reversed, and we can be that ‘other’ person for our friends when they are struggling!
There is everything to be said for establishing tried and trusted lines of communication before we need them. Crises are hardly the time to start casting around for someone to contact. A friend wrote to me on this subject:
It is so important to have people in your life who know you well enough to come and rescue you when you need it. The problem comes when your pride prevents you letting other people know that you are not coping. Pride says, I will never need anyone to help me – I can always cope. Even when times are good, it is wise to think to yourself, One day I’m going to need a friend, and to make sure that you have the sort of friends who will be on the lookout for you. That’s what I did at a time when I felt quite comfortable in my own bubble, (this was how I was ‘managing’ my pain before my husband and I split up). God told me clearly that I needed a prayer partner. Little did I know how much I would need her!
Keeping the wheels on the wagon: God’s promises to Joshua
Before exploring in more detail some of the ways in which disappointment affects our lives, perhaps we can remind ourselves of the awesome moment when God commissioned Joshua to cross the River Jordan and enter the Promised Land.
I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and very courageous. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Josh. 1:5-9)
Many of us are so wary of the over-optimistic claims of the prosperity gospel that we instinctively shy away from the full implications of what God is promising us through passages such as this. How did you react to reading it?
It is never the Word of God that is at fault; only our understanding or interpretation of it. When Jesus says, ‘Have faith in God,’ the verse could equally be translated ‘Have the faith of God.’ (Mark 11:22) If we can seize hold of this awesome challenge to our unbelief and apply it afresh to the difficult situations we are facing, we will see God going ahead to level the mountains and to swing wide or even demolish altogether the gates of bronze that are withstanding us. (Is. 45:2)
If you have travelled down numerous blind alleys, however, ‘believing’ for this and ‘expecting’ that, you may have reached a point of fearing that you have been guilty all along of straying into presumption. If you feel as though the wheels are falling off your faith wagon, now would be a good time to book yourself a ‘tyre change and reality check’ – which is the subject of the following section.
Increasing our Faith
Take a sheet of paper and draw a ladder graph chart. Summarize the verses we looked at earlier from Joshua and put this at the top of the working page: ‘Strong and courageous in faith.’ For the middle section, insert a slogan such as: ‘Trusting in some things, but struggling in others.’ Let the bottom of the page bear the melancholy caption, ‘Feeling completely overwhelmed. No expectation of God moving.’
Measuring events and emotions by the past three months, rather than by the mood of the moment, where would you place yourself on such a scale? The Lord can use this chart to pinpoint areas where you urgently need to be applying faith. Add in some issue that fits into each of these categories. Then pray for the Lord to move you up the scale, reversing the damage that disappointment has caused. As Tozer so beautifully puts it, ‘Repentance is apologising to God for distrusting Him so long.’
(We might make an exception here for the clinically depressed, who are, for the time being, unable to help themselves. It is our task to be strong and supportive for these dear ones, and to have faith for them).
Some people’s understanding of what constitutes ‘victorious’ Christianity is dangerously naïve. They would, effectively, place their cross in the ‘unusable’ margin at the very top of the graph. Let me take an extreme example and you will see what I mean. Basing his teaching on Peter’s miraculous escape from prison, one minister declared, ‘It is pure unbelief if any Christian is imprisoned for his faith.’
This is the sort of nonsense people believe when they turn an experience into a doctrine. Was James, martyred for the faith, a lesser soul than Peter, who was rescued? Was Paul out of God’s will when He experienced the intense troubles and persecutions the Lord had warned lay in store for him? (Acts 9:16, 2 Cor. 11:23-27, cf John 16:33) What about the weeping martyr-church in China, so vibrant in faith, and led by leaders who have, for the most part, served lengthy, and brutal, prison terms?
Before we throw out the baby with the bath water, however, and write the prosperity gospel off altogether as a deviation, turn your attention back to the bottom of the chart you have just created. The bottom of the chart speaks of nothing greater than the ‘orderly management of decline,’ the fear of rocking the boat, or pushing out into deeper waters in case it offends or disappoints. Expectations are minimal because there is no thought that the Sovereign Lord of the Universe, who is strong and mighty to save, will step in to move the necessary mountains for us.
Or perhaps you did step out of the boat, mustering all the faith you possibly could, only to flounder helplessly? It is entirely probable that you will face a similar situation somewhere along your path, – and your faith levels are likely to be severely diluted and depleted if you have not dealt with previous disappointments.
Taking all these things into account, therefore, which do you think God prefers: people who push the boat out too far and stray too high in their aims and expectations – or people who never risk attempting anything at all? If we take the Parable of the Talents as our guide, we will surmise that the Lord would surely prefer that we were red-hot and full of zeal, rather than static and lukewarm. (Matt. 25:15-30)
There are at least three pressing reasons why this chart raises issues that are by no means only theoretical.
- As we get older most of us are increasingly likely to become discouraged. The more profoundly we ‘learn’ to respond to challenges in faith, however, the less likely we are to slip back into leaning on our own resources to solve our problems when difficulties come our way.
- Pressure against believers continues to increase across the world from year to year. The temptation to compromise fights against the call to take a clear stand for Jesus.
- People in their twenties and thirties are often enormously creative and sensitive, but perhaps have been through fewer generational traumas than their elders, and as a result may be less emotionally resilient. In view of their high expectations, short-term adrenaline surges need to be undergirded by perseverance to make long-term targets achievable.
If our character matches our calling we will avoid doing the worst thing possible: walking away from our calling, our ministry, and our cutting-edge friends. In the longer term, doing that can only leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled, dazed at why we have wasted so much energy getting nowhere, and yet powerless to alter anything.
We make it harder for ourselves if we are obstinate and stubborn – or quick to put the blame for everything on others. (Pvbs. 19:3) I have a photograph on my computer screen at the moment of a dog playing tug o’ war. It is a delightful image, but the dog had clearly never learned the command ‘drop!’ We too need to know both what to let go of, and when. Psychologists tell us that people in pain often choose to introduce another pain into their lives at this point to counteract the first pain. It is this ‘coping mechanism’ that lies at the root of much self-harm.
It is easy to derive a false security from holding onto things. People who are sick often tie their identity into their illness, afraid of how they would react if they were well again and no longer had the regular flow of sympathy and support their illness brings them. It is so much easier for the Lord to work if we are not holding on to things too tightly. As Corrie Ten Boom put it, ‘it hurts if the Lord has to prise our fingers off!’
By denying ourselves access to people who are flowing in the power of Christ, we deliberately cut ourselves off from the benefit they would offer. Some prefer the self-inflicted misery of loneliness, however, because it gives them the impression of being able to control the pain. If you are currently facing the temptation to run away – or do so at some future time, bear in mind that though the pressure may feel almost overwhelming, the consequences of giving into it cannot fail to be worse.
When we are in a Strange Place
When strange circumstances come our way, and disappointments lurk close by, it is worth remembering that what we regard as ‘disappointing’ may actually turn out to be the Lord’s refining. Yonggi Cho tells of a ten-year period during his life during which he lived with the constant expectation of a fatal heart attack, so deeply was God dealing with him. At the end of that time, He gave him a new heart – and a vastly expanded ministry. Exodus 4:10-12 makes it clear that the Lord has a sovereign purpose in allowing many things to be as they are.
Do not be dismayed, therefore, when you appear to be surrounded by confusing and uncertain circumstances. God is refining and the enemy is contesting. Samuel Johnson wrote,
‘Disappointment, when it involves neither shame nor loss, is as good as success; for it supplies as many images to the mind, and as many topics to the tongue.’
There is great wisdom there, but as we all know, we often do experience real loss and with it, perhaps, intense shame. It takes great faith to believe that darkness and disappointment can also be just as much God’s training ground as our times of clear progress and ‘encounter’. It is not enough to think in such simplistic terms as, ‘If God feels a long way away, guess who’s moved!’ It is much nearer the truth to say, ‘Thank You, Lord, that you know and understand, even when I don’t. Help me to find Your peace in my heart during this time of confusion and apparent contradiction.
Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him,
for He shields him all day long,
and the one the Lord loves
rests between his shoulders. (Deut. 33:12)
Knowing that the prospect of suffering appals us, the devil delights to weigh our spirits down by such an overdose of bad imagination we feel sure we are heading for yet another disappointment. God, however, deals in realities, not in hypothetical thoughts. He dispenses ‘designer grace’ as and when we need it, rather than supplying us today with such a large stock of grace that it will enable us to face all our difficulties tomorrow. After all, it is a pilgrimage that we are on!
You probably know the story of Corrie Ten Boom, who, as a very young girl, asked her father what it would be like to die. Her wise and godly father replied, ‘Before we go to Amsterdam, when do I buy the train tickets?’ ‘Just before we get on the train, Papa,’ she replied. ‘In the same way, Corrie, our heavenly Father will always give us what we need when we need it.’ The more confident we are that this will also be true for us, the less badly we will take it when short- and even long-term disappointments come our way.
Weighing results that fail to match our expectations
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope . . .
There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.
(Martin Luther King)
How can you believe who receive honour from one another,
but do not seek the honour that comes from the only God? . . .
Do not labour for food that perishes,
but for food which endures to eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you
because God the Father has set His seal upon Him.
(Jn 5:44, 6:27).
Some people gloss disappointment as a ‘mental upset.’ Unfulfilled expectations certainly challenge the motivation of our heart. They are often the means by which we realise that we have become more ‘me-centred’ than we had realised. Jesus warns us that we are bound to experience disappointment when the focus of our heart is wrong. May He be like the skilled optician, who adjusts our lenses until we can see clearly!
Sometimes we overestimate what we are capable of (cf Gal. 6:3) – or we underestimate how difficult something was going to be, and how much the Lord needs to do in us before allowing us to succeed. (Deut. 1:41, Josh. 7:3) Since the journey is as important to the Lord as the outcome, dealing with our disappointments can realign us more fully with Christ’s will.
During a recent prolonged crisis several people brought us words encouraging us to embrace a course of action we would by no means have chosen for ourselves. The call was to ‘do the thing we least wanted to do!’ By the end of a week, our thinking had turned right around. How precious friends are, who can see behind our masks, and ‘wound’ as well as affirm. They keep us on track. (Pvbs. 27:6)
In each situation we need to know whether we are being called to nestle in the Lord, or to wrestle against spiritual opposition to make something work out. We need enormous flexibility, and a willingness to hold the tiller lightly, so that we can change direction as the wind shifts – yet not allow ourselves to be blown off the course God has set us on.
The vulnerability we feel during times of disappointment risks goading us into giving way to sudden impulses. As Amy Carmichael put it, ‘True valour lies, not in what the world calls success, but in the dogged going on when everything in the man or woman says STOP!’
If we expect our partners to fully back us one hundred per cent of the time, what happens when we find their support wanting? Are we going to walk out on the relationship for someone more ‘satisfying’? Or are we prepared to look more deeply to see what we have done to contribute to their emotional distancing from us? It may be the same scenario with our pastors, friends and employers. May the Lord restore our willingness to serve one another out of reverence for Christ. (Eph. 5:21)
Many of the disappointments we experience in marriage come because we have not recognised our partner’s true strength and calling. As a result we feed each other the wrong diet, and end up frustrated. I have explored strategies that will serve to freshen even the best marriages, and keep us from experiencing disappointment in them. See Restoring Spark to Marriages.pdf
Bearing in mind that we usually act in accordance with our heart’s deepest longings, it is worth double-checking: where are our dominant desires driving us? If they are towards someone or something we currently do not possess, we must be doubly careful: we may get what we want! (cf Rom. 1:24) The more prayerfully we are asking the Lord to line up our desires with His, the greater the chances that God will provide what we are seeking without jeopardising other things in the process.
The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.
So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light . . .
clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ,
and do not think about how
to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Disappointment from ‘prophetic throwaways’
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts,
especially the gift of prophecy.
(1 Cor. 14:1)
In this section we are going to touch on something that undermines our zeal for the Lord perhaps more than anything else: the sense of being unappreciated, and even cast aside by the Body of Christ. I am approaching this section primarily from the perspective of words and promises that have been uttered too glibly, but we include any disappointment that, perhaps more than we realise, is weighing us down.
For years, we have lamented the comparative rarity of authentic prophetic streams. Eager people were waiting for God to move, like passengers at a bus stop. Recently, like buses that appear in threes, many churches have broken out in the area of prophecy. As a result, many have been touched and healed, and significant intercession has been rising for our land.
When prophecies foretell nothing but expansive blessings, however, promising enhanced leadership positions, ever widening ministry, church or business growth, some begin to sound more like pleasant day trips than a commissioned journey. Only the most authentic address the downsizing and the ‘quiet’ patches that may also be part of the Father’s purpose. Equally rare is the call to unseen and unsung service that actually furthers the work of the Kingdom.
The truth is that ‘inflated’ prophecies have wounded many in the Body of Christ. When respected leaders promise the earth – personal mentoring, spiritual promotion, financial blessings and so on – people actively pin their hopes on what may have been said as little more than a throw-away line.
Recipients are often devastated when they discover how little substance there is behind these words. They may need serious help to disentangle themselves from the effects these falsely inflated hopes have induced in them. It is another reason why prophecies are best heard and tested in the company of people who know us well. It makes it easier to accept and pray them through if they ring true, or to hold them at arm’s length if they do not. Cleland Thomas explores this subject thoughtfully in the chapter ‘Prophetic Madness’ in Broken-hearted Believers (Kingsway). We have also broached the subject in the article ‘Tired of Church?‘
When we hear ‘tall’ tales and unlikely prophecies, Ros and I sometimes try to burst the bubble. Being no strangers to presumption ourselves, we are particularly alert to anything that leads the soul astray. If the call survives such ‘pricking,’ well and good – but let everything be brought into the light for testing. (1 John 4:1) Sometimes the most unlikely words prove the most authentic and enduringly significant.
Alas, those who entertain grandiose visions in their hearts rarely welcome such challenges. No wonder they revile the pin-pricking truth-bringer. There is grief for all concerned at this point – but anything is better than chasing red herrings! From one day to the next, people slip out of Christian circles as the result of failing to distinguish between the genuine leading of the Lord and distorted versions that are forced upon them by narrow-minded leaders, obsessed with their own vision of ‘truth,’ who demand compliance from their unsuspecting flocks.
To God’s great sadness, and to the detriment of many, we have a long way to go before we get the balance right in terms of having mature people on hand to mentor prophets in training, without in any way crushing their spirits at the same time. Far too many promising young prophets have had their apprenticeship stifled through spiritually dominant pastoring that has not known how to develop their gift wisely.
It is always right to be on the lookout to help those who are struggling on the fringes. Look for those who are hugging the back rows of our churches, or floating round the edges. They may only be going through the motions, having long since lost any real sense of relating to the Almighty. Inwardly, they are already easing their way towards the exit door.
Kingdom living was never meant to involve living up to a conveyor belt of ‘products’ and ‘models.’ It is all too easy for leaders to fall into the trap of assuming that if people receive ‘this’ particular blessing, or ‘that’ one, then theirs will be the Church that is most in the flow of the Holy Spirit!
In the middle of an exuberant worship time, one wise pastor stopped everything and quietly addressed one particular individual. ‘Glenda,’ he said in his most reassuring tone of voice, ‘you’ve been through a difficult time lately. Just sit quietly. God knows your heart, and He’s going to meet you tonight!’
On another occasion during a service during which he was encouraging people not to gloss over the realities of their situations, he told the congregation that he himself had been through a difficult time. When his daughter, who was unmarried, had a baby, the man left her to look after the baby on her own. Rather than being weighed down by shame, the pastor brought the baby to the meeting and smiled as he saw the baby beaming back at him. ‘This little one needs a male role model,’ he declared. ‘For the time being, that’s me!’
If God has given us goals and visions, we are blessed. They will stretch our faith, direct our days and expand the Kingdom. We should by no means shrink back from attempting things that might lead to deep disappointment if they do not succeed (Heb. 10:38-39) – but neither need we be ashamed if God allows them to be withdrawn from us. Our call is to draw close to Him rather than to chase visions, goals or blessings in themselves.
Throwing off the pangs of disappointment
My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me.
My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart.
Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways,
and those with clean hands will grow stronger.
Have you ever felt so crushed that you have wondered out loud, ‘Lord, what is to become of me?’ In Your God is too small, J.B. Phillips stated an important truth:
‘You cannot worship a disappointment.’
He was thinking of people who feel that God has let them down – or that they are a disappointment to Him, as well as to the ‘significant others’ in their lives. May I recommend my article ‘Strength to the Weary, based on Isaiah 40?
It is good to remind ourselves of how God has kept us through the years, and given us so many good things. As a naked act of faith, accept that God knows what he is doing. He is ordering our lives aright. To quote the words of Tim Hughes’s song, ‘I’ve had questions’:
When hope is lost, I’ll call You Saviour,
When pain surrounds, I’ll call You healer,
When silence falls, You’ll be the song within my heart
Scripture promises that ‘we will shine like the stars in the universe as we hold out the word of life.’ (Phil. 2:15-16) We are being turned into diamonds – and these can only be formed by being subjected to hard shocks and intense pressure. The process is painful but the end result is glorious: we will sparkle in His land like jewels in a crown. (Zech. 9:16) The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. (Matt. 13:43)
This is a prayer for those who feel crushed and bowed down by disappointment.
Underlying it is a simple and joyous thought: it only takes one touch from the Lord to rekindle our hearts. We never know what God can make of our lives and do through us until we give Him the opportunity to do so. He knows us well enough to start in time, and to take account of our detours. He can make all grace abound to us once more!
Lord of all comfort,
thank You that You have such imaginative ways of turning all difficulties around for good.
I give You now the things I have been holding back from praising You for . . .
In Jesus’ name, I come against the dead weight that disappointment would place in my heart.
There is much I cannot change, and much I cannot do until You move,
but this I can do:
I give you the love and trust of my heart.
Where would I be without You, Lord?
You are my strength and my song!
Be glorified in Jesus’ name!
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
Thank You that the things that affect our hearts do not change You
as You watch over us.
You remain the same –
constant, and faithful, entirely worthy
of worship, praise and adoration.
How would you define the opposite of disappointment? Evidence of success and hopes fulfilled? A temporary boost? A feeling of encouragement or a sense of being comforted and supported, from within and without; a profound happiness? Or perhaps a sense of relief? Given that this article is primarily about our hearts, and that we have taken time out to explore where we are focussing our desires. I thought it would be appropriate to close this section with these precious words by Frederick Faber:
But none honours God like the thirst of desire,
Nor possesses the heart so completely with Him;
For it burns the world out with the swift ease of fire,
And fills life with good works till it runs o’er the brim.
Then pray for desire, for love’s wistfullest yearning,
For the beautiful pining of holy desire;
Yes, pray for a soul that is ceaselessly burning
With the soft fragrant flames of this thrice happy fire.
For the heart only dwells, truly dwells with its treasure,
And the languor of love captive hearts can unfetter;
And they who love God cannot love Him by measure,
For their love is but hunger to love Him still better.
This material, including the photograph from Shetland, is copyright Robert Weston 2007. It may be freely copied or forwarded for the benefit of individuals or house groups, provided the source is attributed. The photo speaks of the darkness of disappointment in the foreground, but with the light of God behind it.