When it comes to sexual integrity, hope matters. It matters a lot. Whether the issue is abstaining from sex until marriage, resisting temptation today, or investing time and resources in order to heal and grow, we need hope that there is good up ahead.
But what do you do when you’ve been abstaining, or resisting, or investing, and you find yourself disappointed?
• What do you do when you’ve saved sex for marriage but marriage hasn’t come?
• What do you do when the spouse you waited for didn’t wait for you? Or even more sadly, after marriage, he or she has been unfaithful?
• What do you do when you’ve done all you know to do to deal with your same-sex attractions, but you’re still not where you want to be?
• What do you do when the prodigal son or daughter you’ve prayed would return is still nowhere in sight?
• What do you do when you’ve worked your recovery for years but you’re still slipping into your addiction?
It may help to know that the collision of hope and disappointment—even when it involves dreams we think God has for us—is a normal part of being a follower of Jesus.
Peter thought he understood the path his life with Jesus was supposed to go. He had found the Messiah, and he’d become one of His best friends. In Peter’s mind, Jesus would soon rise to power, set the Jews free from their Roman oppressors, and usher in a new kingdom. (And you can imagine what else Peter imagined might be in store for him personally!)
But then Jesus kept talking about being betrayed, handed over to the rulers, suffering and dying. Peter had no grid for this. So, he told Jesus he wouldn’t let it happen, and when soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter pulled out his sword and fought.
Later that night, what sense could Peter make of the Jewish Savior shivering in chains across from him in the courtyard? He must have been asking, “Why won’t Jesus do something?”
I imagine you may have asked the same thing. I know I have.
It is hard when hope collides with disappointment, when what we thought God had in store seems to fizzle into a very different kind of story.
But the hopes we have for ourselves are much smaller than the hopes God has for us.
Peter thought Jesus’s priority was taking back Jerusalem for Jewish rule, but Jesus saw that Peter’s future was threatened by something much more severe than Rome. Peter wanted freedom from Rome. Jesus wanted Peter freed from sin and death.
Through Peter’s gravest disappointment came his greatest joy. And his greatest reason to hope. Death was not the end for Jesus, and the end of every one of our stories is not the end. Because of the disappointment Jesus allowed Peter to go through, Peter came to know he could hope for good both in this life and also in the life to come. Later, Peter penned these words:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though something strange were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that at the revelation of His glory you may also rejoice and be overjoyed. (1 Peter 4:12, 13)
As painful as our yet unfulfilled hopes are today, it is not cruelty, or indifference, or absence that causes God to withhold victory now. It’s an even bigger brighter future for those who endure.
Where have you faced disappointments in your journey and what can you do to set your eyes on the hope “of the revelation of His glory”?