Disappointing moments and unwelcomed circumstances in life can feel like they are altering or impacting the course of your life. Sometimes God uses these moments to course-correct your life or to start a new thing.
Who would have thought when we began 2020 that we would be in this situation?
- Churches unable to meet in buildings.
- Schools shut down.
- Cancellation of school promotions and graduations
- And a record number of people have been furloughed or laid off from work.
Moments like these can swing open the door to disappointment, and before we know it, we are flooded with sadness, discouragement, or depression. Yet Jesus prepared us in John 16:33 how we would have troubles, but that He has overcome the world.
Although Jesus had often taught about His death, it still caught His disciples off-guard. They are now forced to process the idea that Jesus is gone and are unsure of what’s next.
All their hopes and vision for the future evaporated when Jesus took His last breath. They had abandoned everything to follow Jesus, and now He is dead. These guys must be wondering where they went wrong.
The emotional and spiritual status of the disciples is fertile ground for sadness and depression. What they do with these emotions will make or break them.
It’s moments like this you can question all that you know and have believed. You may question the legitimacy of your faith.
A crisis is a time to lean into faith and God, not abandon ship. Faith is a foundation to stabilize you when all else is falling apart. In John 21, we see the disciples do two things that help them go from hopeless to hopeful.
#1 Stay connected.
Discouragement has a way of luring us into seclusion, but that only enhances and deepens our sad emotional status.
Isolation in discouragement can be dangerous.
We need to surround ourselves with others who can hear us out and help us balance out our mental and emotional state. Get around people who will stimulate hope in you.
Whatever you’re facing, it is temporary; nothing is final until you stop making choices.
There is an enemy of our soul who wants to detach you from other believers so he can have unfettered reign on your emotions and thoughts.
Peter then tells the guys, “I am going fishing,” to which the six responds, “We will go with you.”
#2 Don’t be idle.
Three of the seven guys were fishermen, so they decide to go fishing at night. They choose to be productive instead of entertaining destructive thoughts.
As the old saying goes, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.”
You will either be busy doing something you enjoy, or you will be burdened by your thoughts, digging a deeper hole of despair.
Action always positions you for improvement. The longer you sit, the more difficult it is to get going.
Nighttime fishing was the best time to catch fish. But our text explains that as dawn arrives, they haven’t caught a single fish.
Can you imagine how these guys must be feeling?
- They have hit rock bottom.
- They do the one thing they are good at, and they come up empty!
The enemy of your soul will work overtime to compound your feelings of frustration. He will do everything he can to broaden your discouragement.
He will make things you are usually confident and competent in doing, become frustrating and cause thoughts of anguish to grow.
As they are bringing in their nets for the last time, to add another layer of frustration, some guy on the shore yells out to them, “do you have any fish?”
Why not kick a man when he is down?
He suggests they try casting their nets on the opposite side of the boat. If there are no fish on the left side, they are probably not hiding on the right side.
With the last ounce of hope they have left, they decide to give it a shot hoping this foolish idea works. John 21:6 says they catch so much fish that they are unable to haul the net into the boat.
I can imagine what happens next went something like this. As John is helping lift the net, he turns to see the guy who made the long-shot suggestion and squinting his eyes, realizes that the stranger on the shore is Jesus, and turns to Peter and says, “It is the LORD!”
Peter doesn’t wait for the boat to get back to the shore, but he jumps into the water and begins to make his way to Jesus.
By surrounding themselves with others, and getting out and doing something familiar, they positioned themselves to overcome disappointment.
This entire story would have ended differently had they isolated, each one in their own home, shut off from all hope and were idle.
Lean into God. Hold onto faith!