1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
I’ve recently been thinking about disappointment, and how, often, in this troubled world, we’re disappointed by the way things turn out. It may be a disappointment in ourselves; we failed the exam or didn’t get the job we applied for. Or maybe it’s other people who’ve disappointed us; they didn’t honour their promise, or they seemed to neglect us. Or maybe it’s just the depressing circumstances of our lives which give us a nagging sense of disappointment with everything around us, even possibly with God. It seems to me that disappointments, large and small, are very much part of our earthly lives. In fact, it may be a more profound disappointment when those we love are missing out on the good things we’d want for them.
I’m sure that Mr and Mrs Crosby must have felt a devastating disappointment when their six-week-old daughter contracted an eye infection and went blind. It must have seemed like the end of so many opportunities for their darling daughter. However, they were a Bible-believing family, and, although her father died when she was only six months old, her mother and grandmother set about bringing her up to know and love the Lord. They didn’t sink into the downward spiral that disappointment can foster, but looked to God with hope, inspiring the little girl to be thankful to God even in her difficulties. When very young she wrote
‘Oh, what a happy soul I am, although I cannot see.
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy, that other people don’t,
To weep and sigh because I’m blind, I cannot, and I won’t!’
The family worked together and taught the girl the scriptures (she would eventually be able to recite enormous passages of the Bible). They encouraged her strengths, and, as a teenager, sent her to a special school for the blind. Here she blossomed, becoming a recognised poet and subsequently, throughout her life, wrote the lyrics for a multitude of evangelistic and inspirational hymns. She married, but sadly lost her only child after only a few weeks. It must have been another devastating disappointment, but, despite her grief, again she looked with thanks to God and even wrote the hymn ‘Safe in the arms of Jesus’ at this time.
You might not know these stories, but perhaps you will recognise the lady’s name. She’s Fanny Crosby, the lyricist of the magnificent hymn ‘To God be the Glory’. It seems that Fanny knew how to put today’s verse into action in her life. She could have focussed on her disability and her loss, as well as other disappointments, but she didn’t. Instead she learned to praise God in every circumstance, and she became, through her hymns, an evangelist and a great inspiration to millions of believers world-wide.
Past disappointments can hold us in bondage and keep us focussed on the unfairness of life, but, brought to God, they can prove to be a spring board for a rewarding future. Fanny Crosby’s life is an inspirational witness to how turning to Jesus in praise and thankfulness helps us walk on past the disappointment and find God’s plan to give us a hope and a rewarding future.
Prayer: Father God, help me to deal with life’s disappointments in the right way, being real about the sense of loss and expressing the associated grief, but also being willing to turn to You for comfort and hope. Teach me to give thanks for all the good things You’ve done in my life, even when I’m in dire circumstances. Today, I choose not to stay in the downward spiral of negativity and self-pity, but to walk through my disappointment and enter the next season of my life, with You. Thank You that Your plans for me are always good. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.