Summary: How then do we overcome discouragment, disappointment, and resentment?
Gladys Thornapple is fixing lunch when in walks her son, Wilberforce, all decked out in his baseball outfit. Mom asks, "How did Little League go?"
Wilberforce growls, "Terrible, I struck out three times."
Trying to console her son, Mom says, "That’s all part of the game, honey."
Wilberforce exploded with exasperation, "Mom, it’s T-ball!"
Do you remember the final drive of the Tennessee Titans during the past Super Bowl? They were certain to score, but they were stopped within a few yards of the end zone and The St. Louis Rams won the game.
The cameras then began to seek out the visible expressions of shock and dismay on the Titans’ faces with alternating shots of the Rams’ exuberant faces. All the work, all the practice, all the grit and blood and guts, were consumed in a flame of pain a few yards short of the goal line.
Disappointment was the reward of the Titans’ while the Rams’ reward were the exuberant shouts of players, coaches, fans, families, and the accolades of the media.
All of us have experienced disappointment. It is a part of life. We, like poor Wilberforce, often come home and, with exasperation, or worse, in our voices, bitterly lament our misfortunes.
The devil, according to legend, once advertised his tools for sale at public auction. When prospective buyers assembled, there was one oddly shaped tool which was labeled, "not for sale."
Asked to explain why this was, the devil answered, "I can spare my other tools, but I cannot spare this one. It is the most useful implement that I have. It is called Discouragment, and with it I can work my way into hearts otherwise inaccessible. When I get this tool into a man’s heart, the way is open to plant anything there I may desire."
The third of five ways that Satan uses to try and keep us from becoming all that we can be as both a person and people of God is by using discouragement, and not joy, to trip us up. Closely behind discouragment is something even more discomforting - disappointment. And disappointment is about expectations.
In the Bible there is a story about great expectations being dashed and a family being shattered as a result.
It is the story of Jacob and Esau and Issac and Rebekah. There story is found in Genesis 27.
I am not going to read the entire chapter but will refer to it through my remarks this morning.
Usually the focus of this story is on Jacob and Easu. But, for us to understand the power of discouragement, of disappointment, of unrealized expectations, we have to include mom and dad.
Someone has said that the difference between courtship and marriage is the difference between the pictures in the seed catalog and what comes up. That’s true, isn’t it?
The expectations about marriage are some of the biggest expectations around. In fact, relationships probably have the greatest amount and intensity of expectations than anything thing else.
Take for example the nervous bride who was counseled by her pastor: "When you enter the church tomorrow, you will once again walk down the aisle that you’ve walked down so many times before. Concentrate on that. And when you get halfway down the aisle, concentrate on the altar, where you and your family have worshipped for so many years. Concentrate on that. And as you reach the end of the aisle, your groom will be waiting for you. Concentrate on him.
It worked to perfection, and on her wedding day the nervous bride boldly completed her processional. But people in the audience were a bit taken aback to her chanting, all the way down the aisle, what they understood as "I’ll - alter - him."
In verse 35 of chapter 26 we read these words, "But Easu’s wives made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah."
They had such high hopes for Esau. They were hoping to see him marry a nice wife from their own people rather than one of those Hittite women.
But, he didn’t. He married two hittite women. And they made life miserable for the family. And the stage was set for trouble.
Time passes and one day Issac, sensing that the end of his life is coming closer and closer, realizes that he now must do what every good Israelite father does as he approaches the end of his life. He must pronounce the blessing on his firstborn son, Esau.
Firstborn sons were to carry on as the leaders of the family. The fathers passed on that place and position to them in the blessing, that was given to them.
But, in this family there was a problem. Mom, overheard the conversation and decided to make some changes to the tradition through deception. Jacob is disguised as Esau and unwillingly is a part of Rebekah’s plot to have the blessing given to him rather Esau.