Friday, December 04, 2009

Compassion In Disappointment

(Written a while back, I hope you find it helpful. My wife has just had surgery on her fractured shoulder, and I have willingly become her personal slave. Would you pray for her?)

We’ve just returned from a brief weekend camping trip, which proved to be a lesson in at least two things:

1) Don’t go camping on the weekend. Insensitive dolts were playing rock ‘n roll and whooping it up at 3:00 a.m., just like they did when I was growing up and camping in Southern California. When I approached to ask them to knock it off, they seem startled that I was bothered. I felt old.

2) God is more compassionate than I thought.


Fishing in a nearby stream and fully enjoying myself, I heard a different sort of question from the Spirit, one I’d never heard before: “Son, if in the next moment you were to join me in heaven, what would you expect?”

Because I didn’t want to be interrupted during such a focus-demanding time—fly fishing—I quickly shuffled the thought to the back of my mind, and got back to the more important business of fooling trout. However, the same thought returned two more times to my inner monitor before I finally dignified it.

Thinking about what I would truly expect upon my arrival in heaven, a curious realization crept across my mind. On the faces of those gathered to welcome me, I would expect to see a hint of disappointment.

Yes, I know about the rich welcome awaiting the faithful upon arrival home—“Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness.” But I was startled to realize that I didn’t think I’d be getting that rousing reception. Or, at least, not that rousing.

I don’t always do so well in this life. I regularly get stuff wrong, needlessly offend people, or fail to be the man I am in Christ. Whether I know it immediately or find out about it later, failure weighs me down. You too? And then I begin thinking about all the work I have to do to make things better or make me better. I’ve proven, however, that I’m not very good at saving myself.

Anyway, in my mind I heard something like this, “I know how difficult it is in the world, I know how very awful it can be. Do you think I have no compassion for you, my righteous son? Do you think I don’t know of your anguish and valiant struggle between flesh and spirit? I am so pleased in your triumphs and rejoice in your success! I love how you are and how you do. Fear not your homecoming—it will be triumphant.”

There on the stream I choked up and laughed a laugh of relief and renewed hope. “He’s really compassionate!” I thought, “He really understands and delights in the smallest success, valuing it far more than the ugliest defeat. He looks upon me with joy and delight. He really loves me in the mess…”

I had a great afternoon. Throughout it I was overwhelmed by the compassion He has for me (and for you) right now in this life, in every trial, in every struggle, in every failure.

And, yes, I caught a bunch of trout. You can ask my wife and girls if you don’t believe me. Really.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,…” (2 Cor 1:3 NIV)


  1. Ole Henrik Skjelstad11:06 PM

    Great article! I liked it tremendously!

  2. Eric Schmidt11:07 PM

    Transparency, admission of all-too-frequent failures, fish tales. Well, two out of three isn't bad. Really, kudos on a good article. It reminded me of a lesson which is that sometimes we have to refocus our Disappointment into HisAppointment. Change our idea of a time and path into His time and path. James 1:2-4 (my theme verses). Changing one letter is easy. Changing our outlook is generally much harder. Fortunately, you heard His lesson doing something fun instead of Him having to revert to lessons with more whack. Kudos.

  3. Adam Melo11:07 PM

    "I am so pleased in your triumphs and rejoice in your success!" What about Him being pleased in our falls and our failures? ...
    sorry didn't mean to use the double f's and sound like some numb preacher

  4. Cheryl York Olmstead11:08 PM

    I love this-I've been learning about in its okay to Believe with Hope...which, I never equated with faith. I've stood firm in my faith-even trials tried to tear it to bits-but did not always believe with hope for the comfort, healing, answer, etc. Now when I pray, I tell God that I beleive He is listening, will answer in His will, etc. It builds more faith. Psalm 25.