Summary: This re-write of "Dealing With Disappointment" was delivered during the April 8, 2008 chapel service at Johnson Bible College, Knoxville, TN. When facing trouble for Christ’s sake, count it all joy!
Facing Adversity by Thomas Cash
Introduction: He lived a life of dashed hopes and shattered dreams. His mother died when just a boy. He had to work in the fields to help his family. He only attended school sporadically, but read every book he could get his hands on. His business ventures and political career failed, and he became a surveyor to get out of debt. He married and had four children, but only one grew to adulthood. He regularly dealt with depression but never stopped working toward his goals. Yet we know him as one of the greatest men America ever produced: Abraham Lincoln.
She was an energetic young woman whose life was forever changed by an accident. Because her spinal cord was severed, she first struggled to survive. Forced to live her life as a quadriplegic, she nearly lost the will to live. Slowly, she achieved the impossible. She painted by holding a brush with her teeth. She produced record albums of joyful music. She married, & is now known as an encourager to countless thousands of people. Her name? Joni Eareckson Tada.
Life for many is filled with experiences of disappointment, disillusionment, and despair. As a result, relationships, families, and careers are often scarred. When we encounter a young man named Daniel, we find him facing unthinkable adversity.
Proposition: We can learn a lot from Daniel, who in spite of continual hardship, overcame tragedy and achieved success. When facing trouble for the sake of Christ, count it all joy!
1. His nation collapsed (2 Chronicles 36)
How do you suppose the nation of Judah felt when Jehoiakim surrendered to Babylon’s first onslaught & became a servant to Nebuchadnezzar?
Did they feel relief because destruction was averted, or shame at the country’s loss of sovereignty?
After 3 uneasy years, the end came swiftly. Jehoiakim tried to throw off Babylon’s power, and Nebuchadnezzar’s retaliation was swift.
Jerusalem was conquered.
We know little about Daniel’s family. He was of royal blood.
We know he was well schooled, or else he would not have been signaled out.
He was probably aware of the prophesies of Judah’s fall, and now was experiencing the fulfillment firsthand.
When something historic occurs, we remember it the rest of our lives. Where were you on September 11, 2001? I was listening to the radio after taking my wife to work. Suddenly, an announcer interrupted and said there was “an incident” in New York. The reports worsened during that eight-mile drive home. I found myself glued to the television for the next nine hours. Sensing the need to be with family, our daughter Amanda drove over and spent the rest of the day with us.
We remember where we were when first hearing of disaster or tragedy. The security industry has become big business. Otherwise there would be no market for burglar alarms, smoke detectors, security systems, guard dogs, and weapons designed to defend our home and family. Out of fear, we purchase these products in an attempt to somehow prevent our most valued possessions from being snatched out of our hands.
”Our” possessions? No! They are God’s; but he entrusts them to us as caretakers. The most valuable, yet least considered God-given treasure is our souls. We know we must protect our families and homes, but it is of utmost urgency that we secure our souls as well. David understood this when he wrote, “Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge…apart from you I have no good thing” (Psalm 16:1-2).
A refuge is more than a shelter; it is a place of safety and protection. When I was a kid, where do you suppose I felt the most secure when a terrible storm rattled the windows of our house? With my Mom & Dad. When life’s storms rattle the windows of our souls, we need to do exactly the same thing: Run to the Father! David did. “I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also rest secure” (Psalm 16:8-9).
Stability, security, safety, protection, and shelter: God offers them all through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. In spite of our inadequate praise and constant battles with sin, he continues to claim us as his children. “My sheep listen to my voice…no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29). What a promise! What security!
Some people will pay anything to protect their temporary treasures on earth. Jesus promises to protect our eternal treasures in heaven (see Matthew 6:19-21).
A preacher was delivering a sermon before a large congregation. He pointed out that believers aren’t exempt from trouble. In fact, some Christians are surrounded by trouble — trouble to the right, trouble to the left, trouble in front, and trouble behind. At this, a man who had served the Lord for many years, shouted, "Glory to God, it’s always open at the top!"