I am convinced that there are many disappointed, defeated, doubting, and cynical Christians. Most are still going to church. Most are even participating in the externals of Christianity, but their faith no longer brings peace and motivation to their everyday lives.
Could I be describing you? Here are some signs of a disappointed Christian:
1. Disappointment with God. Do you feel as if God has not given you the life that he has promised? If we misunderstand what God is doing in the here and now, we’ll live with the wrong perspective and expectations, so disappointment is bound to set in.
2. Lack of motivation for ministry. If you’re disappointed with the life that God has provided, you’re unlikely to get excited about sharing that disappointing news with others! A life of vibrant ministry is not defined by formal training or paid vocation but the result of an overflowingly thankful heart.
3. Numbing yourself. When you’re disappointed with your life, you will pursue ways to escape it. That may come in the form of working too much, a hobby or activity, endless entertainment, or overindulging on food, alcohol, medication, or illicit sexual pleasure.
4. Envy of others’ lives. If you’re disappointed with your life, you will scan the lives of others to see how they’re doing. Inevitably, you will discover someone near you who is enjoying the life that seemed to pass you by. Envy will cause you to doubt God’s goodness and wisdom while telling you that you deserve better than what you are getting.
5. Letting go of the habits of faith. When you’re disappointed with something, you don’t want to invest in or participate in it. Why read God’s Word, why pray, why hang around with other believers, why read good Christian books, and why encourage others to believe when none of those things seem to make a difference?
6. Greater susceptibility to temptation. Once you let go of the habits of the faith, you let your spiritual defenses down. You are no longer connected to resources that stimulate and deepen your affection for Jesus, so the things of this world that woo you to step outside of God’s boundaries are more enticing.
Are you a disappointed Christian? Perhaps your entire faith isn’t characterized by defeat, but there are areas where your walk with God is no longer joyful and motivating. Next week I will unpack a passage of Scripture that deals with disappointment, but for today, I will leave you with four steps:
First, admit your weakness to God. He understands your struggle, and he will always respond in grace to those who come to him with their battle.
Second, become more aware of the things you say to yourself. You are in a constant conversation with yourself, so the things you tell yourself are important and formative. If you tell yourself often that the good life has passed you by, that God has not fulfilled his promises to you, and that others are getting what you deserve, soon you will believe these things.
Third, seek the company of people who have the confidence, joy, and motivation that you may lack. This kind of fellowship is an essential instrument of change in God’s hands.
Finally, look for all the reasons to be thankful and encouraged. Instead of assuming that God’s promises have failed, look for signs of the good things he has promised. Celebrate life even when you don’t see it, knowing that your problem isn’t that God is absent or unfaithful, but that there are times when all of us don’t see him very well.
Paul David Tripp
1. How would you define “the good life”? How does that compare with what God has promised to provide for you?
2. What ministry opportunities has God placed in front of you? Where can you find the motivation to take advantage of these opportunities?
3. Identify some ways that you try to escape from the reality of life in a fallen world, even if infrequently.
4. Are you envious of someone else, even in a small way? What about their life is appealing to you? What does this envy cause you to think about yourself, the other person, and the Lord?
5. What are some habits of the Christian faith that you need to pursue more consistently? How will these habits strengthen you to fight against temptation and to grow in affection for your Savior?