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A Better Way to Look at Disappointment – Encouragement for Today – May 16, 2017

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A Better Way to Look at Disappointment – Encouragement for Today – May 16, 2017

Glynnis Whitwer May 16, 2017
A Better Way to Look at Disappointment
GLYNNIS WHITWER

“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered.” John 21:4-5 (NIV) Everywhere I look, people are celebrating their successes. Their beautiful children, their awesome husbands and the coolest DIY projects. I’m happy for them … for the most part. But there’s a part of me I prefer to hide that whispers, “Why not me, Lord?” It’s not that I don’t have much to be thankful for; I do. But there are these other disappointing realities I live with daily. Areas of my life that aren’t stellar, noteworthy or successful. Areas where no matter how hard I try, I just don’t experience success. My go-to response for many years was to work harder in those areas … all the while beating myself up internally for not being disciplined, creative or smart enough. And yet, God has been showing me something in these disappointing areas: They aren’t all due to my weakness. Sometimes God holds back success with the divine purpose of teaching me something. I think that’s what happened to the disciples. There’s a story told in John 21, after Jesus’ death. The disciples had seen Jesus alive and had gone to Galilee to wait for His return. One night, a few of the disciples went fishing. These guys were born to fish. But that night, after hours floating in the silent dark, they caught nothing. The story takes an interesting turn as the sun starts to rise. Jesus stood on the edge of the lake (although they didn’t recognize Him at first). I’m sure He’d been watching them for hours … maybe even all night. And I suspect He commanded the fish to stay back from the boat for a while. After all, He’d directed the wind and waves, and cast out demons, so surely He could direct some fish. Jesus needed to teach His disciples an important lesson. And in order to learn it well, they had to experience some failure. Jesus spoke to the weary fishermen, as we read in John 21:5b-6a: “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” (NIV) Scripture doesn’t record the disciples’ thoughts, but I can imagine they were a bit annoyed at this piece of advice. After all, they were professional fishermen, doing everything they knew to do. The fish obviously weren’t there! Have you ever felt that way about your life? You’ve done everything you know to do, but nothing changes? The disciples were about to learn an important lesson about success and failure. They obeyed Jesus’ directive, shifted the nets to the other side of the boat, and Scripture records: “When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” (>John 21:6b, NIV)

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