Seasons of disappointment challenge us to understand God’s idea of “good,” if we’ll but listen. For it so easy to praise God when times are good… but far more difficult when times are bad.
Think about the first Palm Sunday. The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of Jesus’ grand entrance into Jerusalem in chapter 21. It says, that as Jesus entered the city riding on a donkey…
A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of Him and those that followed shouted:
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” ESV.
Things were looking pretty good for God’s people – Jesus was a Messiah who could feed thousands at the snap of a finger; He could shame the Romans by wrestling Matthew from their grasp (their biggest tax collector). Jesus was able to stymie all the powerbrokers in Jerusalem. Yes, times were good and God’s people went out of their way to give Jesus a warm welcome — laying down their cloaks, cutting branches, shouting songs of praise, declaring His righteousness… and it was good and right that they do!
But they didn’t really understand why. The people rushing to pave the streets with cloaks and palm branches thought that Jesus was finally going to bring about the political changes they had longed for. Things were looking up: Jesus was about to crush the Roman oppressors!
Or so they thought.
Their error was looking at “good times” from a temporal point of view, rather than eternal. And by the following Friday, you can’t find anyone who is excited to praise Jesus. They weren’t about to laud a convicted criminal. As Jesus stumbles up the long, painful road to Calvary, the crowds lining the street mock and jeer at him. The only person who provides a helping hand is Simon of Cyrene… and that’s only because he is forced to.
Even the disciples turned on him. They started the week thinking they had in Jesus, a rising star. Things were just going to keep getting better and better! But by the end of that dramatic week, they were running scared and hiding in the shadows.
Oh friend, you and I are no different. We have our big dreams of what loyalty to Jesus will do for us. We think that because we’ve signed up to follow Jesus, that God will reward us. Our 401K will keep growing, our boss will honor our dedication, our friends will recognize our hard efforts, and our church pews will be filled to overflowing.
God does reward us… just not always in the here and now in the way we expect.
Instead, when the stock market crashes, and our jobs are labeled non-essential… when each “refresh” of the pandemic statistics only show things getting worse… when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we think He should…
Well, the disappointment could cause us to turn away from God. We could think He’s forgotten us; that He really doesn’t have the power to save us.
Do not make that mistake. God’s idea of “good times” are seasons when patience is honed, courage is revealed, compassion is shown, and trust is refined. So, remind yourself of the eternal victory Jesus accomplished at the darkest moment on Calvary’s hill. Remember how Jesus endured the hours of shame and pain-filled isolation on the cross for the eternal joy set before him… the joy that is ours, too, if we choose it.
Oh Friend, celebrate Jesus today. And not just today. Throughout this dark and difficult season of life, I’m making every moment a reflection of my gratitude toward my Lord and Savior. And I believe you will do the same!