Message 8 of 24

Dealing with Disappointment

Tyler Briggs · May 17, 2015

Message 8 of 24

Have you ever had a time in your life when things did not turn out the way you thought they would? Such times can lead us to doubt and feelings of disappointment. While exploring the real emotions and honest questions of Asaph in Psalm 77, Tyler Briggs shares the story of he and his wife's journey through infertility, the disappointment they encountered along the way, and how to overcome the feelings of disappointment when life seems unfair by remembering the faithfulness of God.

Scripture References: Psalms 77 , Psalms 84

Tyler Briggs

About Tyler Briggs

It was the summer of 2010, and from the outside looking in, everything seemed right in my world. I had been married for 3 years, had a very financially rewarding job as... Read more

Message Transcript
Good morning. I am excited to get the opportunity to share with you this morning about something that's been going on in my wife, Lindsay's, and my life over the past few years, but in order for us to get to that point, I have to take us way back. I have to take us 11 years back to 2004 when I was a sophomore in college. I was out on the town with my buddies at Dixie Dance Hall, and across the neon glow of the room, looking across the sawdust, I locked eyes with this beautiful brown-eyed girl. It was Lindsay. We met that night. Just to be clear, those were my BC days. I don't recommend that as a strategy for you. We met, we began to date through college, and we got married shortly thereafter. We were young and in love. We got married at age 23 and 22, and we were just excited about it. I wasn't walking with the Lord at the time, so we were thinking, "What does the _future_ have in store for us?" We began to think, "Man, we would love to have a family where we ended up buying a good house, moving over, getting a great job, maybe starting with some dogs and maybe eventually some kids…" So we began to do that. Over the next couple of years we began to pursue life together and all it had in it. We ended up buying a house in Beaumont, Texas, and moving there. I had a good job, and we moved out of the college poverty state. Some of you in the room can probably relate to me. We had our first jobs, and we were doing well from the face value of things, but also what was going on in our lives was I began to view my job as my idol. I gave everything in my life to pursue it. As I pursued that for a couple of years, what ended up happening in our marriage was, although we were starting to get a lot of things we, in particular, I, thought would bring us joy, our marriage was not going well. I had not stepped foot in a church in a long time, and I got to a point where I realized although I knew of the Lord I had never recognized my own brokenness and sin. In 2010, I surrendered my life to Christ and began to pursue the Lord, and he began to do a work of redemption in my own life of giving freedom from sin. As he did that, he began to restore our marriage. At that point, we began to say, "What's next for us?" We were like, "Oh, we need to get a dog," so we got a dog. It was great, so we got another dog. That was great too, so we got another dog. Just because we needed it, we got a parakeet, too. We got all this stuff, and my dad, who is never one to miss a joke, started calling us the Dolittles, which was fitting for the time. It was all great, and the Lord had started, at that point, doing some stuff in our lives, and we got to a point where we were ready to take the next step, which we thought was to start a family. As we thought about the prospects of being a mom and dad, we got really excited. Lindsay desired above all else to be a mom, and I really wanted to be a dad, so we started talking about baby names and would it be _this_ or _that_… "No, you can't name it that." You know that battle that goes on. We were talking about, "Hey, if we did get pregnant, how are we going to announce this to our families? How can we up everybody on Pinterest with the best reveal party?" We were doing all that. It was funny. This stunt got to a point where every time we'd go into the store, usually at Target, I would look up, and I would have the shopping cart, and Lindsay would be gone. I'm like, "Where's she at?" and I'd find her in the baby section. She'd be shopping around, she'd always come out, and people would ask us, "Do you want a boy or a girl?" It became pretty obvious Lindsay was wanting a girl even though she said she didn't care, because she'd come out with these little pink owl outfits she would love to have. We were just excited. People would ask me, "Hey, Tyler, what do you want? Do you want a boy or a girl?" I'm like, "I don't care. It doesn't matter to me, because if we have a boy we're going to do boy stuff, and if we have a girl we're going to do boy stuff anyway, so it doesn't matter." We were just excited about the prospects of becoming parents. We got along in this process, month one went by, and we were still excited. Month two… Month three… Then four… We began to get nervous as we got further and further along in this process, like, "Hey, why… What's going on here? Maybe something is not as it should be." We didn't really talk about it, but then month five came, and month six, and month seven… We began to talk openly about the reality that things may not be as what we thought they should be. We ended up going to the doctor, and we found out in 2013 we were dealing with infertility. The good news in it was the doctors were hopeful that, in the future, we would be able to conceive, have a child, and become parents, so we left the doctor's office with renewed hope and excitement. Then another month… Then another month… All the clothes Lindsay had begun to buy got folded up, placed into a box, and shoved to the back of a closet as we began to accept the reality of where we are in our situation. I remember, as we had been in this for a season, as we began to look at the prospect of transitioning from Dallas to Fort Worth at this time, one of the hardest things we had to confront that we were really most afraid of was anytime you move to a new city, especially when you're involved with a church, you meet a ton of new people. The question you always get asked when you come into church a lot of times with the opposite gender and they find out you're married is, "Well, how long have you been married?" For us it was seven years at the time. If you tell somebody you've been married for seven years, it almost begs the question for them to follow up with, "Well, how many kids do you have?" We feared receiving that question over and over again, because every time we heard the question it reminded us of what we didn't have. I even remember, as we began to really move forward in the process of coming to Fort Worth, I had known Gary for a little while, and Lindsay had just met him. We were coming over for Gary to seal the deal for us to make the move over to Fort Worth. We met him and Kim over at Terra, the Mediterranean restaurant. We're in there talking, and he's just asking about us, our marriage, our family, and all that, and he says about six minutes into the conversation, "Well, what's your plan for a family?" I look over, and Lindsay has tears rolling down her face, and I'm thinking, "Boy, you blew it, Gary." It was hard. It was hard for us in that season. That journey we found ourselves in the midst of is certainly not something we desired or would have written for ourselves, and it really left us in a place where we felt like, "This is not turning out the way we thought this thing was going to turn out." So I want to ask you a question this morning. Have you ever had a circumstance in your life where things didn't turn out the way you had planned for them to turn out? Maybe it's not in the past. I think for a lot of us who are in the room this morning, you probably came in this morning and went through your regular routine of getting coffee and, if you desired, the cake to go with it. You're up there making small talk while Jared is patiently trying to call everyone's attention and get you to come down to worship, and someone asks you the question, "Hey, how are you doing this morning?" and you gave them the obligatory, Sunday-morning, "Oh, I'm good. How are you?" but the reality is you're in a spot where you're not good this morning. You realize you're in a spot where, as Lindsay and I were disappointed with the circumstances we found ourselves in, you're also disappointed where you're at. I want to ask you another question. Not just, "Have you been…" but are you currently in a spot where you're disappointed with circumstances and where you're at in life? You may not relate directly to Lindsay's and my story with infertility, but it may be a struggle with singleness into your 30s or 40s. It may be a marriage that's on the rocks and not how you pictured this thing when you took your vows together. It may be the loss of a job as oil prices fall. There are a number of things. This morning, we're going to be talking specifically about disappointment with God, not just that we are disappointed or dealing with disappointment but really how to overcome disappointment. How do we maintain our joy, maintain our peace, and overcome the circumstances we find ourselves in? We're going to be looking at Psalm 77 this morning, so if you have your Bibles with you or your smartphone you can open up, and we're going to dive in. What I love about Psalm 77… It's written by a guy named Asaph. The theme, the whole purpose of it is talking about overcoming disappointment by remembering God's faithfulness. What you'll see in Asaph is he's a guy who was brutally honest about where he's at. He brings his real emotions before the Lord. He asks honest questions, but then he continues going and he remembers the Lord's faithfulness. It shows us how we endure through the trials of life by remembering the faithfulness of the Lord, but currently, as he begins to write, he's at a point in his life when things aren't as they should be, when things aren't turning out the way he hoped they would. He's in disappointment, even deep despair. We'll start by reading verses 1-6. Asaph cries out, **"I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help. You don't let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray! I think of the good old days, long since ended, when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and ponder the difference now."** I can relate to Asaph. I remember many, many times as Lindsay and I prayed diligently through this situation… We would pray and we would cry out to the Lord, but it was like God, who seemed so present to us in the midst of struggles in our marriage early on and in the midst of me dealing with sin… He was there and he came through almost to the point that it was so tangible it was like he was in the room with me, but now at this point it seems like God has changed his mind and he's not there. I even remember getting to a point when it seemed like, "Why am I even praying anymore? I pray and I pray and I pray, and it's like there's a God there who's not listening." Verse 1 says, **"I cry out to God; yes, I shout."** I have the picture in my mind of a young child in a time of need who is calling out for his father, "Father, help!" and the father walking away and not being there to comfort him. I can relate to Asaph. I know some of you here, as you came in this morning, either you yourself are or you know somebody who is in this spot, and you're wondering, "Is it okay? Is it okay to struggle? Is it okay to even be here?" I want you to know it is okay to struggle. You don't have to believe the lie that if you just had more faith you wouldn't be in this situation. I remember I came to a pivotal point in my relationship with the Lord through this journey. Early on, I was reading in Psalms, and I got to Psalm 84, particularly verse 11 which says this: **"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly."** As I read that verse, I stopped. After a few tears, I realized for the longest time I just thought I was disappointed with our circumstance of journeying through infertility, but what I realized was ultimately I was disappointed with God, knowing full well we have a God who was sovereign and in control of all things. I looked at this, and it says, **"…no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly."** I thought, "Lord, where are you at? There was a point, clearly, when I was rebelling against you, not following you, and desiring to be the lord of my own life, but since then, God, I've trusted you. I've confessed my sin. I've quit my job to pursue you in vocational ministry, to serve you with my life. I took up with my wife and moved away from our family to a new city to have to again make new friends and pursue you wholeheartedly, and yet we're in a place where this is what we desire and you are withholding something good from us." I began to doubt, and I began to wonder, "Is God a liar?" What was hardest for me in that moment I think was remembering, "I'm on staff. I'm on a church staff, and I'm responsible for leading and pastoring this group of people, but yet I have these doubts and these struggles. Can I even be here?" I think what happened then is my emotions, as I came to understand where my disappointment lay with the Lord, led me not just to tell me how I felt but to asking questions. I think our disappointment in life's circumstances and with the Lord naturally leads us to a point where we begin to question God's goodness or his sovereignty. This is where Asaph also finds himself. He transitions from crying out to the Lord about how he feels, and he begins to question him as he puts God on trial. Asaph's disappointment turns into questions, and he says starting in verse 7, **"Will the Lord reject forever? And will He never be favorable again? Has His lovingkindness ceased forever? Has His promise come to an end forever? Has God forgotten to be gracious, or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion? Selah. Then I said, 'It is my grief, that the right hand of the Most High has changed.'"** In verses 7-10 we see honest questions coming from a man who was disappointed. We see he was confused because it seemed his loving Father, his God who had once seemed so close to him, now seems so far. Had he abandoned him forever? Would he never return his favor to him again? Asaph questions the goodness of the Lord, and it led me to think, "Is it right… Can we even question? Can we bring our questions before the Lord?" I want you to know God is not afraid of your questions. God is not afraid of your questions, and the reason I can say that so confidently is because I look at the testimony of Scripture and I see Asaph was not alone in bringing his questions of doubt before the Lord. Asaph was not alone, and sometimes we fail to ask our questions because it makes us feel weak or we think people will judge us, but there are some pillars in faith all throughout God's Word and even throughout history who begin to question God's goodness with unabandon. I want to read you a few questions that come up from God's Word and from other pillars of the faith, and then I'll let you know whom you're in good company with. "I am exhausted from crying for help, waiting for God to help me. I have moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes. Where is God? Go to him when your need is desperate and whenever you find a door slammed shut." Here's another one. "I've had enough, Lord. Just take my life. I'm done." "God has no right to treat me like this. It's unfair." Questions like these come up from men like King David, a man after God's own heart who runs to the Lord with questions, Elijah, C.S. Lewis, and Job, bringing their questions before the Lord when things don't seem like they should be, and God is not afraid of their questions. While we're talking about it, I want you to know Watermark is a church that is not afraid of your questions, either. In fact, being honest about where you are is really your first step to freedom and finding encouragement. As I look around the room, I'm reminded of several of my friends who have been in this place or are currently in this place where things aren't as they should be. I've seen countless times over and over again, as they begin to share about the struggles in their marriages, maybe a similar struggle as Lindsay and I with infertility, or whatever it may be, when they began to bring their questions before the Lord and before God's people, they're taking the first step to being known and in being known being able to be cared for and comforted. This is a place where we desire for you to come with your questions. The old adage "Fake it 'til you make it" is poor advice. Who came up with that? I want you to know you can be honest about your disappointment. You can bring your questions before the Lord just as Asaph has done. What I love most about Asaph is not the fact that he's honest about where he's at but what he does with it. He gets to a point where he said, "This is where I am, these are the questions I have, and nothing makes sense," but then he gets to a point where he stops and remembers. What Asaph models for us so well is he stops and remembers by looking back and remembering the Lord's faithfulness. Asaph had gotten to a point where in the midst of the experience he could not reconcile the fact that God was both good and sovereign, so he says, "Where can I go to gain some perspective in the midst of this circumstance I find myself in?" and he goes back. He goes back specifically and looks at two events to remember the Lord's faithfulness, and he describes those two in verses 11-20. Asaph says, **"I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate on all Your work and muse on Your deeds. Your way, O God, is holy; what god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known Your strength among the peoples. You have by Your power redeemed Your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.** **The waters saw You, O God; the waters saw You, they were in anguish; the deeps also trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth a sound; your arrows flashed here and there. The sound of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; the lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was in the sea and Your paths in the mighty waters, and Your footprints may not be known. You led Your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron."** Even though in the midst of his circumstances now he could not see what the Lord was up to, Asaph looks back to a time when he could see clearly and evidently God was faithful to his people. He looks back and recalls the exodus and the journey to the Promised Land, specifically that God had made a promise to a man named Abraham. He had promised Abraham, a man who was old in his age and whose wife's womb had seemingly been closed, and he said, "Hey, it seems desperate now, but I want you to know you will have a descendant. You will have a child. Not only one, but I will multiply your descendants as many as the stars in the sky." He says, "Not only that, but now you're a nomad and you have no land to call your own, but I'm going to give you a land for your own possession, a land flowing with milk and honey, and I shall be your God, and they will be my people." Then, a little while later, Abraham's descendants find themselves in slavery in Egypt for 400 years, and the people begin to wonder, "Has God forgotten his promise? Has he abandoned us forever?" They cry out to the Lord, the Lord hears the cries of his people, and he raises up a deliverer named Moses and brings Aaron alongside him to rescue his people out of bondage from slavery, to be faithful to keep his promise, and to lead them by the hand of Moses and Aaron as he provides their daily bread for them as they journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land, and they see God is faithful to keep his promises. As Asaph remembers this his strength is renewed and he's overcome his disappointment because he knows, "Even though things don't seem as they should be now, I know God is good because I've seen he was faithful in the past and he's faithful to keep his promises now." The key to overcoming disappointment is remembering the faithfulness of the Lord. Specifically, I think we can remember the thankfulness of the Lord in three particular ways. 1._ Look back_. We can overcome disappointment by looking back and remembering God is faithful. Just as Asaph has looked back to these events where God showed up in tangible ways to show himself faithful in their lives, we also can look back and remember God has been faithful. We can look back into our past and see there are different moments in our lives where God has shown up in big ways. For me, he showed up at a time in my life when I was in bondage to sin and making a wreck of my life to forgive me of my sins, call me his own son, and lead me to a place of freedom and restoration. He's shown up in our moves and our transitions as he has provided for us every step of the way. Each of us should have points in our lives as God has shown up there. We can also look back and see in history all the areas where God has shown up. Lastly, you may not have any moments where you've seen God show up in a tangible way in your life, and you may not have ever cracked a Bible and been able to see the testimony of God's faithfulness throughout. That's okay, but the one place every man and every woman for all time can look to see God's faithfulness and his goodness toward us is in Jesus Christ. Ultimately, what we see in Jesus Christ is God didn't give us what we deserved. When I think about God withholding something good from me, what he withheld from me was his wrath and the just payment for the sin I had committed against him. What I see in Jesus Christ is Jesus didn't get what he deserved; he got what I did. When he lived the life I never could, he died the death I deserved, and when God looks on me, he doesn't see my sinful state. He sees Christ's righteousness on my behalf. The place we can all look to gain perspective in the midst of our circumstances is to the cross. That's the ultimate place we can look to find hope to overcome the disappointment in our lives when things aren't as they seem they should be. 2._ Look around_. We can look around and remember God is present, specifically through his people. A question that comes up a lot of times when it seems like God is far off is, "God, where are you?" I want you to know God is here. He's in this room today, and he works through his people. One of the biggest metaphors all throughout Scripture is God calls the church the _body of Christ._ One of the main ways he shows himself to us today is through a perfect God revealing himself through the works of imperfect people as we come around each other to care for and comfort one another. Specifically, there are a couple of ways, as we see God present through his other people, we see he is here indeed. One is by looking around and _seeing__God is at work_. I don't know if you've been hanging around the church very long or not, but if we look around we can see God is at work and writing stories in the lives of his people where he is showing up in faithful ways. Every single week when you come in here you're handed a Watermark News. I hope you're not just putting that under your seat. Every week we provide a story for you of where God has been at work in the life of someone and has brought about radical transformation where he has shown himself to be faithful to keep his promise. You can also just ask anybody: "Hey, man, what's your story?" As a community pastor, I get to meet with a ton of people. One of my favorite things to do and how I'm encouraged is when I get to sit across the table from somebody over and over and say, "Hey, what's your story?" and I get to hear people talk over and over and over again about the story of God's faithfulness in their lives, how they were once far from him in bondage to sin, but God has come through and has brought them near through what Christ has done. We can be encouraged by the stories of others. The other way God is present is when we come upon hard times we _see God uses his people to care for us._ When Lindsay and I went public with our story about infertility we were going through, what we found was not that our struggle was uncommon. Our struggle was common not just in the sense of infertility but that every believer we know, everyone who is part of the faith, has times of struggle they go through. People were able to share how God had used the trials in their lives to grow and to shape their faith. They used the stories about how people had responded to them to bring them encouragement and help them endure in the midst of their disappointment. So we can look around and remember God is faithful by being present through his people. 3._ Look ahead_. The last one is we can overcome disappointment by looking ahead and remembering God will make all things new. God will make all things new. Right now, we live in an era where this world is still subject to the fall and to sin and its consequences, where there are barren wombs, sickness, disease, cancer, and death of loved ones, but there's a day coming soon when Christ will return and he will make all things new. There will be no more pain, no more crying, no more suffering, and no more tears. The only reason he hasn't come back yet is so more people will have the opportunity to come to know him, to know he's a God who is not far off, not hearing the cries of his people, but he's a God who is a loving Father and doesn't just desire for _us_ to draw near to him but desires for _you_ to draw near to him in your time of need. We can look ahead, and then we can remember. What we learned from Psalm 77 and from Asaph is when life seems unfair, it's okay to struggle. We can come to God where we're at. We can ask him our honest questions, but also we need to remember the faithfulness of the Lord. Something Lindsay and I have tried to make a habit of in our lives is to document the times where we've seen God show up in big and miraculous ways for us. Where that came from is as we read through the Old Testament we began to see the nation of Israel… Every single time they had a tangible encounter with the Lord they made a practice of piling up this big heap of stones. The reason they did that was twofold. First, they piled up these stones and called them _stones of remembrance_ so they would never forget what the Lord had done to be faithful on that day, and also, when future generations would say, "Hey, what's that pile of rubble over there?" parents could wrap their arms around their kids and say, "Let me tell you, son or daughter, this is what the Lord did here. Our God is faithful." To capitalize that, Lindsay and I began to keep track of those moments. In our journal, we'd document our stones of remembrance where God has shown up in miraculous ways for us. I want to read to you an entry I put in there just a couple of months ago about a time when we saw the Lord has come through. I'm going to read that to you. "We found out on Thursday, March 5, 2015, Lindsay is pregnant with our first child after a two-year struggle with infertility. Over the two-year span, we have prayed diligently not just for a child but also that, through our struggle, we would come to know God more intimately, for deeper trust in him, for opportunities to have this hardship grow our faith, and that we would be faithful to tell the story he's writing for his glory. Psalm 84:11 says, **"…no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly."** A few times during the past two years, I felt as though God was withholding something good from us, but as we've drawn near to God we see God had something better in store for us than giving us a child when we wanted one. Through this hardship, we've seen God grow us in oneness in our marriage, and ultimately we've been able to come closer to the Lord in our relationship with him. Lindsay has had the opportunity to serve on staff at Watermark, and the Lord has used this time to mature Lindsay's faith and make her into a leader of women and a pillar of the faith. Our devotion to the Lord has grown, and we now understand the child we've been given is a gift from the Lord that we're not guaranteed tomorrow, so we celebrate God's grace today that we are with child but also understand we are mere stewards of this life until the Lord decides otherwise. God, you are faithful, kind, gracious, and wise, and your timing is perfect. No good thing do you withhold from those who walk uprightly, and the good thing, the best of all things, is that you do not withhold yourself from us when we deserve it, but you desire a relationship with us, a relationship you purchased for us through the shed blood of your Son, Jesus Christ. By remembering this I will always remember, even in the most difficult of times, you are good." The reason I wanted to share with you that Lindsay and I are pregnant is because we're a family and we want to celebrate that to you, but if you think that's the good news, you are missing the picture altogether. The best news is Lindsay and I had our joy restored in the Lord long before we ever found out the news that we were expecting our first. The victory was in that. I want to share with you… My wife often trumps me in the strength of her faith in how she allows the Lord to use things to grow her. We found out on a Thursday we were expecting, and two or three days later we were sharing with our staff here in Fort Worth the good news, and Lindsay said, "You know, we've desired this for so long that I thought, when it happened, if we ended up with a child and the Lord gave us that desire, the heavens would open, the angels would sing, and the _shekinah_ glory of the Lord would come down." She said, "Really, it was kind of anticlimactic. What happened for me in that moment is I realized the only source of joy that is permanent, everlasting, and ultimate is the joy of the Lord, and only when we look at Jesus Christ in the midst of our trials can we overcome the disappointment we experience." The reason I share that with you now is I don't know where you're at. I don't know where you came in this morning or what you're wrestling with. We asked the question, "What are you disappointed with?" I don't know what the answer is for you, but what I do want you to know is the thing you're looking to that you think will get you out of your disappointment, that you think will be the ultimate desire of your heart, won't. Whatever the thing is you think you desire the most, that will bring that everlasting joy to you, will not, but there is one place you can look that will always bring about hope and will always bring about a renewal of your faith, and that's looking to Jesus Christ, who is our strength and our joy. I want to give you a couple of things to do. One is this: If you came in today and you're in a spot where… I've talked about being around God's people and being able to come to God's people in times of disappointment. You may be saying, "I'm here, and I'm disappointed, but I don't have any people. I don't have anybody to give to." I want you to look around the room, and I want you to know God brought you here today. You're surrounded by God's people, and you have a place where you can be honest about your feelings, you can bring your questions to the Lord and to us, and we will be here to remind you God is faithful. The first thing I want you to do if you're in a spot where you're disappointed is I want you to tell us. I want you to let us know. A couple of ways you can do that if you're here and if you're in community… I have to plug that because I'm the community pastor. If you're in community, share with your community. Be honest about where you're at. If you don't have community, let us know before you leave either by coming down, and I'd love to talk to you afterwards, or if you don't feel comfortable talking now fill out your First Impression form and say, "Hey, I'm in a spot where I need to talk to somebody," and turn that in in the back before you leave. Come and let us know. Let us know where you're at so we can point you to a God and to a Savior who loves you and cares for you, who can be your strength and be your hope in the midst of disappointing circumstances. I want to remind you God loves you, he gave his Son for you, he is here, and he is faithful. He's faithful through his Son, Christ, he's faithful through his people, and he will be faithful to make all things new. Let me pray for you. Lord, we celebrate your grace. We thank you that you are a Father who cares for his children and, when we cry out, you do hear us. You don't invite us to pursue you on our own, but you invite us into a family, a family where we have brothers and sisters to be surrounded by and encouraged in our walk with you. We're thankful for your faithfulness, that you did not give us what we deserve, but you withheld nothing good from us. You gave us your all. You gave us yourself and what we see in Christ. I pray, wherever my friends are at today, whether they're on a mountaintop or they're in a valley and things seem dark in their lives, that they would look to you and be reminded of your faithfulness, that they would know they have a God who is good, who loves them, and who cares for them. I pray if they're in a spot where they are experiencing disappointment and discouragement in their lives you would give them the courage to raise their hands and say, "This is where I'm at," and you would give us around them, as the body of Christ, the compassion and desire to want to care for them and be the hands and feet of Christ. I thank you, God, that you have come through and our victory is in you. We thank you that by the washing of your blood we experience renewal of hope. We thank you that you are the source of our joy, you are the source of our hope, and through you we can overcome all things. Amen.