Does victory look like getting what we want? Perhaps seeing the sick healed or the peson we voted for getting into office? Or maybe it looks like prosperity? Or favor? Well, sometimes it does. But what about the times when victory doesn’t look like victory? What about the times when you’ve done all that you were supposed to do, but the outcome looks disappointing? What about then? It’s so tempted in those moments to ask ourselves if God came through for us. He says He’s the Rescuer. Did He rescue? He says He’s the Healer. Did He heal? He says He’s our Deliverer. Did He deliver? Our faith can be severely tested sometimes. When everything is going our way, it’s easy to believe that God is Who He says He is. It’s when our faith is tested, however, that we find out whether it’s genuine or not. It’s during times of disappointment that we have a choice to make: will we trust God even if our PERCEPTIONS tell us that He failed us? Will we trust our feelings, or God’s word?
Again I ask, What does victory look like for a believer? What’s the litmust test for victory? Perhaps we could look to those God commended to get His perspective of a victorious life. Hebrews 11 is a good place to find examples of believers who saw great victories. We see King David who conquered Kingdoms, Enoch who escaped death, Samson who was victorious in battle. We see people who recieved their loved ones back from the grave and others who overcame infertility. Some administered justice, shut the mouths of lions and escaped the edge of the sword. Wow. Pretty impressive. Looks like victory to me. But wait a minute…
Hebrews 11 also commends those who were victorious in another way. It also commends those who held onto their faith even when they didn’t get what they wanted. Verse 35 says,
“Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some face jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned, they were sawed in two; they went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in desserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. They were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. For God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
Walking in victory means we hold onto our faith no matter what comes. It means that we choose to believe God whether we’re conquering kingdoms or not. Winning an election or losing one. In prison or in the palace. Rich or poor. Receiving our loved ones back from the dead or lowering their casket into the ground. Favored or rejected. Prospering financially or destitute, persecuted and mistreated. Healed or sick. There’s an old hymn that says, “Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.” 1 John 5:4 says,
“Everyone born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that have overcome the world: our faith. Who then overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.…”
What do we do if we’ve come through a disappointing life experience that leaves us doubting God’s word? I went through this recently. I’d been diligent in asking God for something that I thought would be a good thing. I believed that God thought it would be a good thing too. But when things didn’t play out in a way that looked like victory, I was tempted to believe that God hadn’t come through for me. I found myself struggling with unbelief. Here’s what’s helping me get through it:
Recognize that the land of disappointment is a dangerous place to dwell. In his book, This Day We Fight, author Francis Frangipane writes,
“Disappointment is not just a sad, emotional state of mind; it actually can sever our hearts from faith. It is the enemy’s work. Demonically manipulated disappointment can actually “dis-appoint” a person from God’s destiny for their lives. I have known many who were doing well, moving forward toward their appointed destiny. The future God had for them seemed almost close enough to taste. Then they became disappointed in someone or something. By accepting disappointment into their spirits, a bitter cold winter took over their souls, and their faith turned dormant…Often, it is not blatant rebellion against God that causes backsliding; it is the acceptance of dis-appointment into our hearts.” Page 90-91
I look at disappointment like a warning light on the dashboard of my car. Disappointment says, there’s trouble in my heart. It needs addressing, and quickly.
The next step to overcoming disappointment is being honest with God about how we feel. Let’s face it, the natural inclination of our flesh is to talk to everybody BUT God about our disappointment. Venting to others only adds fuel to the fire. Some feel like it dishonors God to say, “Lord, I’m angry with you right now.” The truth is, He already knows anyway. We can either process those strong emotions with Him, be healed and move on, or we can stuff our emotions and still be carrying them around 20 years from now. Ignoring our feelings won’t make them go away. We’re deceiving ourselves if we think it will.
The next step to getting through disappointment is to identify and confront areas of unbelief. I had to face the lies that God didn’t rescue, didn’t defend, didn’t help. I acknowledged to God that this is how it LOOKED to me. I confessed my unbelief and repented of it. It’s a mistake to believe that once we’re saved we no longer struggle with unbelief. The danger with this lie is that we get blindsided when our faith is severely tested. It’s normal for believers to be tempted with the sin of unbelief. It happens to all of us at one time or another. As believers, we are no longer slaves to sin. We don’t need to yield to unbelief. We have a choice!
The last step in overcoming disappointment is to reaffirm our faith in God. This is where we make a choice. Will we trust our feelings and perceptions, or will we trust God’s word to tell us what’s true? This is the most important step in getting through a crisis of faith…this is where we put our stake in the ground once again and declare, “I believe God.” It’s where we say, “I reject all lies about God and I CHOOSE to trust that He does not lie. He does not change. He is trustworthy. Even if I don’t receive in my lifetime what I’d hoped for, I trust Him.”
These steps have helped me to quickly move past disappointment and unbelief. My hope is that they’ll do the same for you if you find yourself in that place.
May your trust in God be renewed today,