Jesus welcomed the people, taught them about the Kingdom of God and healed those in need. Luke 9:11
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Seeds of the Kingdom

Disappointment

by John Sainsbury

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
John 6:67, NIV

Do you ever have moments when you wonder what your life has been or what it is all about? Does it ever feel that, despite all your best efforts, there’s so little to show for it?

Reading this question of Jesus I wonder if He ever felt a sense of disappointment too.

Although in this chapter John has just told us about the miracles where Jesus feeds 5000 people and walks on stormy water to reach His disciples in a boat, His question comes at a time when many of the people who had been listening to Jesus began to grumble about Him (John 6:41). Even some of those who had followed Him as disciples were grumbling about Him, not understanding His ‘hard’ teaching (John 6:61). And that wasn’t the worst of it. In John 6:66 we read: ‘From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.’ Such loss of those who had seemed hungry to follow Him so far is what prompted Jesus’ question in John 6:67 to His closest circle of twelve disciples: “You do not want to leave too, do you?”

I think for all of us disappointment is a reality in this earthly life, which is marred by sin. We may feel we haven’t achieved all we should have, be it in academic attainment, sporting prowess, career progression, relational harmony, spiritual growth or many other areas of life. This can leave us with a profound sense of disappointment at ourselves or, maybe, in others who just didn’t ‘see’ us.

So, what do we do with these moments of deep disappointment?

Maybe the first thing to ask ourselves is whether our expectations were realistic in the first place. Many a disappointment comes because we have set our hopes and expectations unrealistically high. And when we don’t achieve what we could never have realistically hoped for, our enemy loves to rub our faces in our apparent failures.

So how did Jesus handle the rejection of so many disciples?

I read no sense of self-recrimination in His words and no sense of bitterness towards those who turned their backs on Him. He was totally secure in the knowledge of who He truly was and what God had called Him to be and do. I love it that Paul says, ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, so that no one can boast’ (Ephesians 2:8).

Maybe there’s a danger that if we did achieve all that we wanted to, we would be tempted to believe in our own magnificent independence, boast in our own prowess, and we might therefore miss the wonder of God’s grace.

Maybe when we sense that feeling of disappointment knocking on our hearts we could practise the spiritual discipline of thankfulness and gratitude; turning the tables on our adversary and living more fully in the grace we have been blessed with.

John Sainsbury and his wife Sue are part of the leadership team at Ellel Grange. John has served as a church leader for many years, most recently as Lead Pastor of the Garstang Free Methodist Church. He has a passion for seeing many brought into the fulness of life that following Christ brings.

 

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