Disappointments and God Appointments - Finding Victory When Life Doesn't Go Your Way

Executive Orders
This week it was a pleasure to have my friend Clair Hoover on the Men in the Arena Podcast.

When Clair isn’t serving as the Executive Director of the National Coalition of Ministries to Men (NCMM) he works in commercial real estate development and management with his sons. Besides talking about his Dallas Cowboys, and favorite band, Van Halen (with Sammy Hagar), Clair was impressively vulnerable about his struggles in 2020 as the Coronavirus was ramping up.

2020 Was A Lemon

I laughed out loud at Bud Light’s Super Bowl commercial depicting 2020 as “A Lemon of a Year.” It’s true.

Many got sick (including Clair), some died, many lost jobs and businesses, not to mention social unrest and political elections. Fortunately, Clair caught himself, leaned into Jesus (Proverbs 3:5-6) having his best business year to date as well as seeing great growth leading NCMM.

Proverbs 3:5 - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding."

2020 was a banner year for disappointments.
How do you handle life when things don’t go your way? Do you rage in angry outbursts? Do you live vicariously through your TV monitor? Do you dive into your favorite comfort foods? Or numb your mind through marijuana, alcohol, or other substances?

“If only…”

This morning, I read about the death and resurrection of Lazarus in John 11:1-46. Four days after his death, Jesus arrives at Lazarus’ tomb, and finds the disappointed Mary and Martha.

Notice the disappointment in their separate responses to Jesus:
“Martha then said to Jesus, Lord, IF You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.’ (John 11:21-22)”
“Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, ‘Lord, IF You had been here, my brother would not have died.’ (John 11:32)”
He saw the hurt in their eyes, He listened to the pain in their voices. He heard the sorrow in their hearts.

Shortest verse in the Bible

“Jesus wept." (John 11:35)
He knew what was coming next, but He wept, nonetheless. He didn’t weep over Lazarus but over the pain of the sisters that he cared so deeply for.

Jesus notices your disappointments. Jesus knows your pain. The worst thing we can do is hide our disappointments from Him, deceiving ourselves that He somehow doesn’t notice. This simply is not true.

Tell Jesus what you feel—exactly—no matter how ugly it may be. Here is a little secret: He already knows and cares! But that isn’t my favorite part. Keep reading.

Unwrap, Unbind, Set Free

Jesus ultimately resurrects Lazarus, “When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.’" (John 11:43-44)

Did you catch that? Lazarus was alive, he was resurrected, the stench was gone and the life was back... but he was still in bonds. In the New Living Translation, Jesus said, “Unwrap him and let him go!”

Boots on the Ground

For some reason, verse 44 hit me like a .44 magnum between the eyes. How many others - like me and my friend Clair - are alive in Christ but walking around in bondage? Did you notice that Lazarus, for whatever reason, did not remove the wrappings himself? Instead, Jesus had his friends and family help him!

It is one thing to be alive in Christ, but it is quite another to be free in Him.

  • Are you free?
  • Is there ANYTHING binding, pulling, and holding you back?
  • Who has your back?
  • Who is God using to unwind your bonds so you can live freely as your best version in Christ?

- Jim

*If your answer is "no one," I teach you how to find that guy in this week's Equipping in Ten.
*Join us in the Men in the Arena Facebook Group to lock shields with other men.