Splinter from the Cross
Little headaches, little heartaches
Little griefs of every day.
Little trials and vexations,
How they throng around our way!
One great cross, immense and heavy,
so it seems to our weak will,
Might be borne with resignation,
But these many small ones kill.
Yet all life is formed of small things,
Little leaves, make up the trees,
Many tiny drops of water
Blending, make the mighty seas.
Let us not then by impatience
Mar the beauty of the whole,
But for love of Jesus bear all
In the silence of our soul.
Asking Him for grace sufficient
To sustain us through each loss,
And to treasure each small offering
As a splinter from His Cross.
- Author Unknown -
Here I am again, looking for splinters, and one of the toughest ones for me is dealing with disappointments, and unrealized expectations. So many disappointments come along, some from our own mistakes and failures, and some that come through the failures and mistakes of others. Some cannot be avoided and some could have. That’s the nature of disappointment. There was a certain level of expectation, of anticipation, of performance or circumstance that we desired, but the outcome fell short.
The bigger issue is not so much that we are disappointed, but how do we deal with it? And that largely depends on the circumstances, but it is also a faith question. Disappointment is a form of suffering.
Sometimes a disappointment can be shrugged off; it’s a little thing, so don’t sweat the small stuff.
Sometimes its a big thing and it affects the lives of other people. Then we may be disappointed, but we may also be in a position to act, to correct something, to repair a wrong, or even just to soften the outcome. We move to help, to solves problems, to seek a new path, a way out of the disappointment toward fulfillment.
Or we may not be in a position to help at all, and we feel helpless. Or we’ve tried and failed. The the best thing we can do is try to be patient until feeling passes, and often staying a bit busy helps to deal with the emotional fall-out of disappointment.
It takes a measure of faith-filled discernment to know what’s best in dealing with disappointment. It helps to look for the kingdom thread. Jesus told us to “seek first the kingdom”… and if we can see a little glimmer of that as we deal with disappointments, we are likely to choose the best part in dealing with the disappointing things in life. We are not to just seek first the kingdom when things are going great…but always.
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
- Matthew 6:33 -
Over time, I’ve learned that disappointment is one of the wedges of the devil. When something disappoints us, it has the potential to drive a wedge between God and ourselves, and ourselves and others. Disappointments can be setbacks with regards to tasks and achievements, or they can hurt us in relationships. Both kinds of disappointments – with people or things — can lead to discouragement.
Discouragement is the older brother of disappointment, the bigger, more muscular brother who is often ready for a fight. If disappointment is a wedge, discouragement is the sledge hammer that can crush disappointments and sever us from ourselves, and others completely. Discouragement has the potential to separate us from God, both as a momentary distraction — it keeps the focus on ourselves and our miseries. And that’s when we need our focus on God the most! For when discouragement leads to despair, it seals off the heart from allowing God to enter it because the despair becomes a kind of blindness, even though the Lord is close to the despairing.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.
- Psalm 34:18
So it’s best to do as this little poem advises, “for the love of Jesus bear all in the silence of our soul. Asking Him for grace sufficient to sustain us through each loss.” This is not about being a martyr, as it is about trusting in God in good times, and especially in the bad times.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair.
- 2Cor 4: 8 -
Let us offer up these disappointments as they come our way. Still, if we must act, let us not grow weary of doing what is right.
The poem talks about the little splinters we encounter from the Cross, but I think it’s helpful to take a deeper view of the bitter pain and disappointment of the Cross. Jesus was indeed, afflicted, and perplexed by not driven to despair.
Some people find that hard to believe given that Jesus uttered the words of Psalm 22 in his bitter agony…
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Why art thou so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
- Psalm 22: 1 -
Indeed, yes, that certainly seems like despair does it not?
Jesus was quoting the psalm fully aware that it was a foreshadowing of that very moment in time — a prophetic cry of all the hurts of humanity being nailed to that tree.
Like a good Jewish Rabbi that he was, Jesus also knew the rest of the psalm that invokes the ultimate trust in God…
O my God, I cry by day, but thou dost not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.
Yet thou art holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In thee our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
To thee they cried, and were saved;
in thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.
-Psalm 22: 2-5-
There’s more, but you get the point. The deepest disappointments need not lead to despair. God is close to us in our brokenhearted moments. We may be crushed, but we oughtn’t despair.
May we ask for grace sufficient. For when we do, it will be there.
“In thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.”