Luke 24:21 “But we had trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel.”
The disciples were downcast. Because their expectation wasn’t met in the manner which they thought it should have been, they totally missed the better thing, the bigger purpose which the Lord had for them. Their eyes were clouded to God’s plan by focusing on their own ideas. They were sad. They were confused. They were fretful, disappointed, and discouraged. Such a jumbled bundle of emotions all at once! How well I know that same jumble. They felt let down by the very One in whom they had cast all their hopes, dreams, and desires for the restoration of Israel. He should have redeemed Israel. It really seems to have come as a rude awakening, even though the Lord had been telling them all along it would go like this: the cross, the tomb, the resurrection. Jesus’ atonement for the sins of the world. They just couldn’t hear it. In fact, not too many days later, at the time of Jesus’ ascension, they’re asking again, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6, emphasis mine) They are, in a sense, saying, “Well, Jesus, since you didn’t restore the kingdom before, will you now?”
They make me think of little children, “Now Lord? Can we have it now? Please!” They still only have kingdom of Israel in sight while all along Jesus Christ had a grander view — that of others. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah caught a glimpse of this broader view as he penned, “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6) And as recorded in the New Testament, the devout Simeon spoke his clear understanding of this broad view, even as he held the infant Jesus, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)
Sometimes the Lord uses our disappointments to a bigger purpose, if we let Him. He always has others in mind, whether Old Testament, or New Testament, or even the present time.
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Recently my morning reading found me in this passage from the book of Luke, musing on how the disciples were really missing the point. As I wrote some notes in my Bible reading journal, I had to stop and consider if perhaps I was also missing the purpose of something in my own life; something which the Lord allows remain: my chronic illness.
The past few weeks my health has not going according to how my expectation had seen it. I am struggling with another flare up, and now I wonder if the Lord has forgotten my puny plans: restoration of physical health, at least in some measure. I think He must see me a bit like the impatient disciples as over the years I continue to ask, “Lord, will you at this time restore my health? Will you now bring physical healing to my pain-racked body? Can I have it now Lord? Please!” I confess that I’d really like a different answer than what it appears He intends to give. But am I, like the disciples, missing a bigger and grander purpose?
Here’s what I mean. Over the years I’ve found that the Lord has used my experiences with chronic illness to minster to and encourage others in many different situations of discouragement and fear, defeat and frustration; people entangled in that same jumble of emotions. Yet somehow it still takes me by surprise almost every time when someone contacts me to ask for spiritual guidance, prayer, or encouragement.
Others. The Lord always has His view toward others. How about me? When something doesn’t play out as I’d like, do I become sullen and keep pestering for a different answer, or do I try to find a way that the Lord may use the situation to be a blessing to someone else? Do I resist and rebel against acceptance, or can I take it beyond a cursory acceptance by embracing what the Lord allows, looking for ways to use it for His glory? How I long to be consistent in my thanks and praise to the Lord for what He has allowed to remain in my life rather than fighting against Him and wanting to be rid of it.
Lord, remove the cloudiness from my eyes. Let me not see the pain, sorrow, and disappointment which often blur my vision, but rather, only the beauty of the gift and the Giver. Please let my life reflect Yours, one wholly given to others.