My twelve year-old son is the most optimistic person I know. He loves technology and has boundless confidence that it will always work as advertised. One particular app on his tablet just will not work. We have researched, reconfigured, and run every diagnostic known to man – all to no avail. Yet with every software update, he asks, with brimming expectancy, “Dad, I got an update. Can we give it another try?” As a recovering software engineer, I am steeped in pessimism, especially when it comes to software. But nothing – not even repeated disappointments — can dampen Noah’s confidence that “today is the day” that the latest update will make everything right. And time after time, we are let down by open systems that aren’t so open after all.
But life is full of let-downs — meals that bear little resemblance to the advertising and online products with five star ratings, 378 “awesome” reviews, and that one bad review that turns out to be the only faithful narrative. And then there are social media friends who are really not friends. Just in case you don’t realize, your social media friends are not really friends. If they were not your friends before social media, they are not committed to anything more than spectating your life.
I recently crossed paths outside of cyberspace with an online “friend.” She couldn’t quite place me. I offered congratulations on her recent marriage and commented on the exciting places she traveled on her honeymoon. Looking at me as though I was a stalker, she asked me how I knew. Somewhat dejected, I said, “I’m your friend on Facebook.” If you are depending on social media friends to be your friends, then I am sorry to say, you will be let down.
But live relationships let us down as well. If you want to know if someone is really your friend, ask them to help you move. Moving is a severe trial for the closest of friendships. Years ago, Melanie and I were moving out of a second story apartment. We moved almost everything ourselves, negotiating two flights of stairs with a narrow landing. All that remained was a washer and dryer. The dryer was not a problem, but our faithful old Maytag washer was crafted from heavy American steel and offered no easy hand-holds. I called a close friend who lived nearby to help me get this last item into the truck. After a few hems, lots of haws, and a flimsy excuse, I realized that we were operating on two different understandings of friendship. I admit that our relationship never quite recovered from that let-down.
Every person you know is a sinner. This guarantees that sooner or later you will be let down by someone close to you. You don’t have to live very long to experience this. But the pain is especially great when the let-down seems easily avoidable, or worse, intentional. And the closer, more intimate the relationship, the greater the pain of this disappointment. How do you recover? How do you move forward? How can your relationships survive a let-down?
The story of the prophet Jeremiah is a story of disappointments. Four decades of preaching fell on deaf ears. No one listened. No one responded. He was hunted by authorities and hated by his own friends and family. He was not allowed to marry and lived a life of solitude and sorrow. He had no one to support him in is own grief over the judgment coming upon his beloved people. His only refuge was the Lord, but even the Lord seemed to him to be deaf to his prayers, unconcerned about his persecution, and unappreciative of his ministry. All this comes to a crisis in Jeremiah 15 as the prophet confronts God.
Have you ever felt let-down by God? Have you been disappointed when He seemed deaf to your prayer, unconcerned about your trials, and unappreciative of your obedience? How will you respond? How will you move forward in following Him when he seems to have become an adversary? Join us this Sunday, June 14, as we examine Jeremiah 15 and observe Jeremiah’s struggle to come to grips with a God who seems to have let him down.