The Oxford Dictionary defines disappointment to be the ‘sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfilment of one’s hopes or expectations’.
I enjoy Jim Rohn’s viewpoint on discipline:
We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment
Most of us start our lives in an environment where we are born as part of a family pack; with a pecking order. I was the youngest of three so whenever I felt like playing a game, I had to ask my sister or brother to join. Mostly the answer was NO, in various forms.
As I grew up I started asking my parents if I could have ice cream, sleep over at a friend, play outside after dark, own a horse, get another kitten. Many of these requests were met with a definite ‘no’. My brother said no, I can’t play with his guitar. My boss sometimes say no to my leave requests.
And recently, the Government have been telling me when I may leave my house and at which time I should be back. I can’t remember when last I stayed out after 12:00 am, but I find myself feeling restricted because I have to be back by midnight.
But what happens when you say NO to yourself?
I remember receiving my first pay-check and not being able to spend it all. I could not imagine what one would do with so much money every month.
However, as the years progressed and life (and my expense account) started to consist of lots of ‘necessities’ I ended up spending my pay cheque just by allowing all the payments to go off overnight on the last day of every month. I have gone through a few times of ‘pulling the belt tighter’ — which meant saying NO to many extras and luxuries so that I could contribute toward our first home. Reminiscing about that time, I can taste the many pasta dishes and toast with interesting toppings and I can revel in the sense of achievement; second to no other. However, it is also a reminder of the blessing which could be hidden in the act of saying no to yourself.
In recent times you have all been reminded how frustrating it can be to be restricted in your movements and in your way of life. Irrespective of your own viewpoint about the actions taken by various governments and institutions to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, you have all been impacted. Therefore, you have a fresh example of external circumstances impacting your life and sometimes, your state of mind. Nobody enjoys being told what to do and when you may be doing it.
However, what is more fascinating to watch than an International Athletics event? Or the Olympic Games? Seeing the result of years of training and seeing talent merged with hard work, is beautiful. When you speak to any serious athlete, you will hear about their training programme and the discipline involved in getting up every day, going through the same motions every day, pushing your body to the next level of performance, pushing through the pain and discomfort. Why? To reach the next goal.
Haile Gebrselassie, the greatest middle-distance runner of our time, is a great example of this. One of ten children of an Ethiopian family, he ran ten kilometres to school every morning, and the same back every evening. What started off as a necessity and a byproduct of attending school, became the reason for his name to become part of history. With his left arm crooked as if still holding his schoolbooks, he enjoyed a 25-year athletics career in which he claimed two Olympic gold medals, eight World Championship victories and set 27 world records.
In Scripture, you read about spiritual discipline. The writer of Hebrews acknowledges that all discipline seem painful but then reminds us that — in time — it will be yielding the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. — Hebrews 12:11
The words in verse 12 shows clearly that you won’t be able to place an order and then receive a Take-a-Lot package filled to the brim with discipline — you will have to train yourself. Take it step-by step. Set your goals. Recruit an accountability partner who can help you to do what you set out to do.
Do you consider yourself to be a disciple of Jesus? Discipline is at the heart of discipleship. ‘Follow me’ required discipline from the disciples, it requires discipline. It is intentional.
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord — Hebrews 12:14
This verse shows that those who love God will not be able to do anything else than to pursue peace with others. Because the Holy Spirit lives in you, you should experience holy hungers to be reading Scripture, spending time with other believers, worship God in song, serve others.
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness — 1 Tim 4:7
As a believer you should be practising biblical, spiritual disciplines.
Two most important spiritual disciplines are the intake of Scripture and personal prayer.
The foundation of your spiritual life is dependent on knowing God’s Word and spending time in prayer. You can read the Scriptures regularly and still struggle to remember what you have read. Ensure that you find a method to assist your memory retention. Try meditating on what you have read. Why rush through this wonderful letter from your God? We are called to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. The plant requires air, sunshine and food to grow. Our physical bodies require food, sunshine and exercise. Our spiritual lives need nourishment, not spasmodically, but every day of our Christian lives.
Prayer, especially when done daily, can become repetitive. Rather use God’s Word to ensure that your prayers are meaningful and alive. This is also the greatest gift you can give your loved ones, your friends and your enemies. Let your prayers be intentional, keep a prayer diary and ensure you thank God for answering your prayers. One prayer God promises to hear is Luke 18:13 ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’.
May God have mercy on you (and me). And may we accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope (Martin Luther King)