When Life brings Disappointment
There are many moments in our lives and stories in the Bible that we must declare with Job as “too wonderful for me.” Full of mystery, we may never be able to reconcile these tales with our limited understanding and finite minds. It is tempting to grow bitter and callous in our misunderstanding of our own difficult seasons; however, reading the true stories in the Bible of those who forged their way through baffling and often painful circumstances offers wisdom and hope in life’s storms!
For example, Job, one of the first stories written in the Bible tells of great tragedy none of us would want to experience—the loss of family, resources, and even his own health, only to be restored double-fold in the end. In Job’s darkest hour, God gently and boldly shows Job His character (Job 38-40), causing Job to humbly declare in Job 42:3,
“I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
Most do not and would not use the adjective “wonderful” to describe the unfathomable ways of God in our own personal lives, but should we? The Psalmist agrees that God is too wise to be mistaken and too good to be unkind. His sovereignty over our lives is knowledge often too wonderful for me:
“O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.” – Psalm 139:1-6
These verses have brought so much comfort to me in my own seasons of uncertainty and pain. I must trust that God isworking for my good and for His glory, even if I cannot clearly see or understand His ways at the moment. He has made provision or me from beginning to end and His hand of love is upon me.
There are women, especially widows, represented throughout scripture who are put in situations where they must remind themselves that the ways of God are good even though often times mysterious and difficult. Tamar, Abigail, and Bathsheba represent widows with unwanted stories, yet two of them ended up in the line-up of King David’s wives and two in a more important family line—the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Tamar, widowed twice, sets a trap of prostitution for her father-in-law. Abigail, widowed after enduring a difficult marriage, only to find herself in the house of the king. And infamous Bathsheba finds herself in the arms of David resulting in an unwanted pregnancy and soon a precious infant in her arms. Not only did she become a widow almost overnight, but by the hand of the one who fathered her first-born son. This is all overwhelming and indeed too wonderful for me to understand.
God always sees. The consequence for this evil in the sight of the Lord was the death of her baby. Talk about a painful story for Bathsheba—the husband she loved was murdered, giving her the title of widow, when the not-long-enough grieving period was over, she remarried and was given the gift of bearing a child, only to be ripped away by the end of the first week of the child’s life! WOW—such knowledge is too wonderful for me! This story is unsettling for sure especially the part about David having so many wives when God clearly told rulers to be one-women-men! Solomon, the son conceived in Bathsheba’s moment of consolation with David, wrote the book of Proverbs. Known as the wisest man in the land, his last chapter, Proverbs 31, is a guide men should follow when looking for a wife. Even though this ideal woman is unnamed, perhaps the Proverbs 31 lady is Solomon’s very own mom, Bathsheba—a woman of valor.
Sadly, women today endure similar circumstances, and for that I am truly grieved. When we are faced with disappointments and mounting sorrow, it stings when God’s answer to our cry is an unwanted response. David repented, fasted, and prayed for God to heal his child, but God said no.
David models for us how to respond to a disappointing answer from God. My guess is that Bathsheba followed his lead:
“So David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he came to his own house, and when he requested, they set food before him and he ate.” – 2 Samuel 12:20
- David arose from the ground – Life will bring us to very low points where we beg God for relief. When God responds with a no, we must rise above the devastation, life must go on.
- David washed himself – Yes, David committed a very costly sin but so do we. In fact, our personal sins sent Jesus to the cross—the only payment sufficient for all sin. Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of repentance. We must do the same – repent of our sin, receive the gift of forgiveness, and then give it freely to others.
- David anointed himself – David’s sin came with consequence but did not remove the calling of God on his life – he was ultimately known by God as a man after God’s own heart. God may use your pain for a great purpose.
- David changed his clothes and worshiped – Grief has a season, but at some point we must put on the garment of praise and move forward in faith putting our trust in God.