We've all experienced disappointment on some scale in life. Try as we might to avoid that terrible feeling of failure and the pain of unfulfilled dreams, we still find ourselves face to face with disappointment, at some time or another. You're not alone in this, as the feeling of deep disappointment is part of a larger, human story. Consider the Bible and all the stories of well-intended plans gone wrong, and yet, somehow, God uses those plans for His will in the grand narrative of Scripture. Today we're looking to Scripture to see how the men and women dealt with this sometimes crippling experience, and ultimately, how God transformed their misgivings into something more beautiful and meaningful than they could have ever imagined.
Here are three of our favorite stories depicting God using what's broken for His goodness—the most beautiful transformation of all.
1. The Story of Joseph
"What you meant for evil God meant for good." ~ Genesis 50:20
The book of Genesis seems like a fitting start to our journey. Starting with the story of Joseph, and his infamous betrayal at the hands of his brothers. Joseph was one of 12 brothers, and as the favorite of his father, his brothers were bitter towards him and wished to get rid of him. This is perhaps one of the greatest redemptive stories in the Bible. After Joseph's brothers trick him and sell him into slavery, Joseph goes on to work his way up through this house of Pharaoh. Eventually, he is appointed as leader, and ends up saving thousands by providing grain through a severe famine.
This brief summary doesn't do the full story justice by any means, so we encourage you to read the full account for yourself to get the full emotions of the story. When you do read through the passages, imagine the pain and confusion Joseph must have felt at the beginning of his story. It's almost unimaginable to see yourself in a similar situation. The point we're getting at here is how God inserts Himself in the most downcast, seemingly impossible situations, like Joseph being betrayed by his brothers and being sold into slavery. God ultimately used Joseph to save his people (his family, too!) and bless the nations.
Joseph and his family aren't the only ones to be touched by God's redemptive power, either. When we look at the book of Genesis as a whole, we see how Joseph's account directly rights the wrongs of Abraham and his family. For example, instead of jealousy and murder having the final say between two brothers, as with Cain and Abel, Joseph saves his brothers who betrayed him and ultimately reconciles with them. When his brothers beg for his forgiveness, Joseph accepts, and they go on to live in peace.
God's sovereignty is not to be underestimated, and He makes this quite clear in this story. No matter what evil is done, God will always have the final say and will right the wrongs for His good and His glory.
2. The Story of Esther
"And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” ~ Esther 4:14
The book of Esther is yet another powerful story of God working through His followers to overcome immense adversity in order to save His people. Esther was a young Jewish woman who was summoned to King Xerxes, along with other young women in town, in order to find a new queen. Esther's cousin Mordecai warned her to hide her Jewish identity, as it would be dangerous for her if anyone found out. Almost immediately the King was taken by Esther's beauty and appointed her as queen.
Long story short, the King's right-hand man, Haman, convinced the King to set a date in which all of the Jews would be killed. Esther prayed and fasted, thinking of what to do to save her people. She eventually went on to boldly approach the King, reveal her identity, and ask that he spare the Jewish people. The King granted her plea, and ended up rewarding her and her cousin, Mordecai, for their loyalty and goodwill.
Imagine how confused and afraid Esther must have been entering the palace for the first time, not only in contention to be a queen, but to be a Jew when the Jewish people were being persecuted. She was the underdog, and yet God used her for His redemptive purposes. He emboldened her and her cousin to take a chance and go to the King on behalf of her people. Esther was faithful to God by prayer and fasting, and God rewarded her for that faith.
In this story, we can see how God uses the ill-equipped for His purposes. The same can be said for you and me, too. No matter how unprepared we may feel for a task, we serve a higher God who will empower us to be bold and courageous. No matter what setbacks or adversities may be placed upon us, our God is greater. Plus, who knows how many people can be affected by your own act of courage? Consider the thousands of people who benefitted from Joseph and Esther's bravery.
3. The Story of Job
"Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees." ~ Job 4:3-4
The story of Job is a popular one in the Old Testament. It depicts perhaps the greatest accounts of sufferings a human can endure, and yet we see Job as a faithful follower throughout all of his misgivings. Job was a blessed, upright man of God with a large family and plenty of land. Job's impressive faith even earned him the attention of Satan, who wished to test Job in hopes of him forsaking God. So God allowed Satan to test Job, which led to Job losing absolutely everything. He lost his family, his land, his possessions, and even his health declined. He had every reason to turn against God, and yet he still remained faithful, even through his uncertainty and pain.
The book of Job can almost be read like a courtroom case. We see Job questioning God, and God showing up in a big way to justify His cause. After all, Job was innocent! He didn't sin in any big way to deserve such trials. One big takeaway from this story is how honest Job is with God. He doesn't hold back. He shares his pain and confusion, and guess what? God can take it! God responds with authority and understanding. This goes to show that no matter how anguished we are, we can always come to God with our true feelings. We don't have to hide from Him. You can be angry. You can have questions. The point here is to continue to communicate with God and seek Him out, as Job did.
Eventually, Job was restored and ended up being blessed beyond measure. The Lord restored Job's fortune, health, and even provided more family for him. God rewarded Job for being faithful and remaining close, even when his friends tried to thwart him.
In the end, Job showed that his faith wouldn't waver, even in the teeth of extreme adversity. This book also reveals that everything you hold dear may be taken away—your material possessions, your health, or even your loved ones. But what can't be taken away from you is your faith, your relationship with Christ. That is the most important thing about you.
Faith Over Fear (and Disappointment!)
Whatever season you are in at the moment, whether it's one of goodness or extreme disappointment, know you're not alone. We invite you to meditate on these passages of Scripture and see how our God equips those who are lost, whose dreams have been shattered, those who are betrayed. We can learn from these individuals and see how powerful their faith is, and just how sovereign our Lord is above evil. When we look at failure through God's eyes, it loses its power over us, because we realize that it's not the end of the story. There are far greater things to come, and we can't wait to see how God uses you. Would you like a few more reminders to be bold? Shop our selection of our Christian apparel, with collections featuring some of your favorite verses and imagery.