Germ-Infested Restrooms

Proverbs 13:12 — Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life (KJV).

The Bible says unrelenting disappointment makes the heart sick. Those who have lost hope in relationships are no different. They literally become heartsick. That’s why it is so difficult sometimes for relationships to be restored. Allow me to explain.

Have you ever stopped at a rest area off the side of the highway? Odds are you have, but if not, you have surely gone into some skeptical truck stops or gas stations in your lifetime. I’ve traveled thousands of miles on interstates across the country, and I’ve found myself in some nasty, germ-infested restrooms. You know what I’m talking about—the ones you have to hold your breath in and tiptoe around.

In those situations I do my best not to touch anything, and I’ve even used paper towels to turn knobs and open doors. Sometimes I wouldn’t wash my hands because I was convinced they would only be dirtier after doing so. (Then I became a school teacher.) There are others who go to even greater extremes to avoid germs. Why do we do this? We don’t want to get sick. Most people are not voluntarily going to make themselves ill, so they are very careful to stay away from germs.

This is exactly why broken relationships stay broken. Disappointment after disappointment causes people to become heartsick. They do not want to get sick again, so they avoid intimacy in relationships like they would avoid a nasty restroom.

Relationships are a gift from God, and He never intended for them to be a source of disappointment. Healthy relationships bring life and encouragement. They are meant for intimacy and accountability. Don’t allow rejection or offense to rob you of this beautiful gift from God. If you do, you will remain heartsick, and you will never know what intimacy with God or others is like.

Ephesians 3:19 — And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God (KJV).

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Disappointment With God

Proverbs 13:12 — Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (NIV).

The third area I want to deal with is disappointment with God. This may be the most difficult relationship for hope to be restored to. God is always ready to take you back, but human beings are notoriously stubborn creatures. Many people lost hope in God years ago and have held decade-long grudges against Him ever since. They no longer have any godly expectations, and they blame Him for whatever reason.

If you are one of those people, listen to me carefully: It’s not God’s fault, so get over it. Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to downplay the personal pain and rejection you might be feeling. I understand feelings are very real, but you manage your feelings, not God. He does not change, and His word is eternal. He is not capable of lying, and He has never let anyone down ever.

Many times people lose hope in God because of unrealistic expectations. Others misinterpret unanswered prayers as rejection. As the old Garth Brooks song says, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” Looking back over my life, I am very thankful now that I did not get everything I prayed for.

God has a perfect plan for your life, and His ways are sovereign. Do not lose hope when God doesn’t work things out the way you would like Him to, or when it seems like your prayers are falling on deaf ears. He is always working on your behalf, and He hears everything you say.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (NIV). What do you hope for? Do not suspend your dreams because you are mad at God for something He didn’t do. Give Him your grudge; you don’t want it anyway.

I Peter 5:7 — Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you(NLT).

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Disappointment in Yourself

Proverbs 13:12 — Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (NIV).

The second area I want to deal with is disappointment in yourself. People become disappointed with themselves for many different reasons. Failures in school, in the workplace, or in relationships cause many to lose hope. The guilt and shame they carry because of such failure leaves them imprisoned unable to forgive themselves.

Forgiving yourself is often more difficult than forgiving someone else. Intimacy with God is largely dependent on your ability to let go of your mistakes. You have to allow the blood of Jesus to wash away your shortcomings. Micah 7:19 says, “You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” (NIV). God has compassion on you; He wants to throw your sins away, but you have to let go of them first.

Perhaps you’ve been torturing yourself because of past failures. It’s time to let yourself off the hook. Don’t just blow off your shortcomings, though. Learn from them. When you fall short, don’t beat yourself up. Become a better person. I pray you will believe in and trust yourself again. To defer means to put off or postpone. Perhaps you have put your personal dreams and expectations on hold. If so, I encourage you to pray the following prayer over yourself:

“Lord Jesus, You are awesome. I surrender my entire self to You. I give You all of my failures and shortcomings. Wash me in Your precious blood. I want to be completely free. Take away my guilt and shame; make me whole again. Restore my hope, and help me to trust myself once more. The joy of the Lord is my strength, and I choose to walk in unspeakable joy. Thank You, Lord, for giving me the ability to dream again. I love You. Amen.”

Hebrews 8:12 — “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (NASB).

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Disappointment in Relationships

Proverbs 13:12 — Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (NIV).

If you find yourself lacking intimacy with God or any other person, this verse may be the key to your breakthrough. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. What a sad truth. To better understand the meaning of this statement, let’s look at another version: Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick (MSG). Disappointment comes in a variety of sorts, but the person who is continually disappointed winds up brokenhearted.

The first area I want to deal with is disappointment in relationships. There are countless people who have experienced broken relationship after broken relationship. As a result, they’ve closed themselves off to the idea of intimacy with anyone. They will allow a person to come “only so close” before they withdraw.

Many people have been cheated on, stabbed in the back, or abused by those they have been in relationship with. Children are mistreated by their parents, spouses are unfaithful, best friends gossip and slander one another, pastors betray their flocks, and the list goes on. When not dealt with, these types of experiences will be carried over into every new relationship.

Those who have deferred hope in relationships eventually wind up harboring unforgiveness toward those who have wronged them. They become bitterly offended and filter all of their relationships through that offense. This truth tragically includes their relationship with God.

Perhaps you find yourself separated from God today. Could it be that you have unforgiveness toward someone? Unforgiveness puts a wedge between you and Him. You may be justified in your offense, but you will not experience intimacy in any relationship until you deal with unforgiveness.

Matthew 6:15 — “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (NIV).

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Your Advantage

John 1:14 says the Word became flesh and lived among the disciples in the person of Jesus Christ. He was all that the Father would think, say, or do personified. The disciples walked with the word of God and talked to Him. They heard Jesus teach, saw Him love, and witnessed the miracles. God’s Son was alive in their midst, but then He started talking crazy.

John 16:5-7 – “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heartNevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (NKJV).

For the longest time I thought all of the traveling and miracle working had finally got to Jesus. The disciples were obviously saddened because He discerned sorrow had filled their hearts, and I’m sure they longed to hear Him say: “You’re right boys. It’s not really a good time for Me to leave right now. I should have been a little more sensitive to your needs. I will hang out as long as you feel it’s necessary. My bad.”

The disciples received no such comfort. Instead, Jesus responded to their distress with, “It is to your advantage that I go away.”

I’m sure they trusted Him, but this just didn’t make any sense. How could it be to their advantage for the Son of God—the Word in the flesh—to go away? Perhaps He meant it was to their enemy’s advantage.

Jesus continued, “For if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.” So now, He wasn’t just leaving, He was sending a stranger to take His place! But this wasn’t just any stranger; it was the person of the Holy Spirit. If the Bible is life’s syllabus, the Holy Spirit is its professor. It is to your advantage Jesus went away because now His Spirit lives within you. Get to know Him, and you’ll get to know the heart of Christ.

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First Responder

1 Corinthians 13:4Love is kind (NKJV).

The word translated kind in this verse actually has several different meanings, but I want to share one used to define the God-kind of love. To be kind means to be gentle.

As I studied the Scripture concerning gentleness, I made an interesting discovery, and it boils down to this: Gentleness is love’s initial response to conflict. I guess you could say gentleness should be a first responder to opposition of any kind.

A first responder is someone designated or trained to respond to an emergency—a police officer, firefighter, or paramedic. They are skilled at bringing solutions to problems. In much the same way, God has designated His children to respond gently in hostile situations. I believe gentleness is the key to bringing potential revolutions to resolutions.

More often than not, the Bible ties being gentle to times of persecution, strife, and the like. Check out the passage below.

Titus 3:1-2 — Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and show perfect courtesy toward all people (ESV).

I challenge you today to respond gently when faced with adversity. Don’t allow your feelings to lead you; make gentleness the first response.

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We Includes You

Ephesians 1:5God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ (NLT).

Adopting you into His family has been God’s plan all along. Your background, build, and bottom line were not taken into account. The Father did not go through a lengthy selection process to aid in deciding whether He would adopt you or not. He went through Christ.

There is not an exclusive “In Christ Club.” Many organizations and clubs have extensive criteria for membership, but being in Christ has only one: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13, NKJV). Your adoption was made final the moment you received Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

Perhaps you’ve developed an inferiority complex because of rejection or neglect. If so, don’t allow what others say is wrong with you to undermine what Jesus made right in you. Romans 3:22 states, “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ” (NLT). We includes you.

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