Numbers 14:17-24 (NIV)
17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared:18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. 21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.
I don’t know about you, but I find that too often, I become so focused on something or someone that I’m unable to hear what God is trying to tell me. In those times, one of God’s most effective yet painful methods of getting our attention is through disappointments. But don’t we really hate this approach?
Disappointment is one of the ways God spoke dramatically to the nation of Israel. In Numbers 14, He directed His people to the Promised Land. However, fear invaded their hearts and they were scared of the inhabitants, so they refused to enter. As a result, God told the Israelites that “not one of them will ever see the land” for 40 years, until after the death of the generation that had been too fearful to enter.
The postponement was so disheartening that they decided to change their minds. Sadly, though, it was too late; God had already settled the issue. As a result, the people were distraught with grief because of what they had missed.
At that moment, when they were in the midst of their disappointment, do you think God had their attention? Absolutely He did. The next time He gave Israel a command, don’t you imagine they listened a bit more intently?
Tragically, failure is a rather common in situations such as this. Instead of looking to God when disappointments occur, we are quick to blame circumstances, other people, fate, or even the enemy, Satan.
We are hesitant to believe that our loving Father could be responsible for our frustrations. Yet He is willing to use disappointments to realign our thoughts and plans with His.
Take a minute to think back on some of the difficulties or major disappointments that you have faced in your life. Do you think that God might have been trying to say something to you in the midst of those trials? You may not be sure and since you most likely were not listening for God during those times, you probably don’t know what He was trying to tell you.
I want to pose a challenge for all of us: the next time we come up on some major trial or experience some disappointment in our lives, instead of trying to blame the world, let’s look to God and listen very closely to hear Him. He might be trying to teach us something very important. That is a lesson we don’t want to miss!