It was the final report everyone had been talking about. He had about 20 minutes to review the document, which included the company’s account summaries, current standing among the competition, and projected growth. Following a series of mistakes and misfortunes two years earlier, the man was given one year to prove his trustworthiness. And he had done so . . . or so he thought. The report reflected wisdom learned from discipline and humility. The numbers were outstanding.
And yet there was ambivalence. The report was a glowing example of his efforts, but no one recognized it. Nothing negative was said. Nothing was said. He felt invisible. That was it. He left the meeting expecting to be recognized for his contribution or at least acknowledged; instead, the power players focused on things that drew crowds and made headlines. They were concerned with stuff that didn’t require skill, talent, or excellence but on the flashy, quick-fix, money-motivated points which had not built the company and could not sustain the company long term. So he wondered, Am I really important to this company—does my contribution make a difference?
Some of the most important tasks in life often leave us feeling less than satisfied. Days end, and we retire feeling exhausted—emotionally spent, physically drained, and spiritually dry—plagued by the question: why am I not fulfilled in life? I wish there was a single answer to this question, but there isn’t. Disappointment takes over when we discover that our expectations will never turn into reality, when what we had dreamed of, worked for, or planned for craters. All we can do then is pick up and move on. That is what happened to the gentleman above. He kept his commitments, developed his character, and pursued excellence, yet the congratulations he expected didn’t come and he found himself wondering, Is this all there is?
This is a basic challenge when raising special-needs children or caring for an aging or disabled loved one. Our expectations are dashed and replaced with vast responsibilities and life-altering adjustments. Mary, Jesus’s mother, knew what it was like to have life take a sudden and unexpected turn. Who knows what she and Joseph dreamed of for their life together? Whatever their hopes, they didn’t include an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. They were preparing for marriage, when Mary learned that she was going to be the mother of the Messiah. What was their first conversation like? Was Mary scared? Was Joseph? When I encounter life-changing circumstances, I often meditate on Luke 1. It’s not merely a Christmas passage; it’s a life passage. Here are a couple of things I’ve learned from Mary:
- Mary accepted God’s plan. She didn’t ask the angel those “who, what, when, where, and why” questions. She didn’t argue or try to change or control the circumstances. She simply accepted what Gabriel said as truth. Acceptance is a long process when the path is difficult, but it is a necessary one in moving forward with hope.
- Mary acknowledged this was God’s. Was a virgin pregnancy impossible? Yes! Was the pregnancy controversial? Indeed! Was her life going to change? Absolutely! Would she have to juggle half-siblings and wrestle with public ridicule? No doubt! Would her Son be broken and die? To be sure! But under the power of God Almighty, she submitted to His will. And she was freed from worry. Her heart rested upon the truth that God has done mighty things throughout history, just as He has promised, and He will continue to accomplish great things through her.
God has done mighty things throughout history, and He can accomplish great things through you.
Is it hard for you to believe that? You can’t believe it if you are disappointed with life. So, are you disappointed with how life has turned out? It is okay to say it, “Yes, I am disappointed because I didn’t plan on ______________, and it has changed everything in my life.” Admitting that is a first step in accepting the path God has laid out for you.
He is working a good plan that cannot be accomplished by you, but may not be accomplished without you. You are chosen; watch Him work.
- Family Matters: Investing in the Things That Last (workbook, CD series, or DVD set)
- Life Lessons Just for Men (CD series)
- Man to Man: Chuck Swindoll Selects His Most Significant Writings FOR MEN (softcover book)