The back cover's question peaked my interest: "What can you do when life doesn't turn out like you planned?" The cynical side of me chuckled and replied aloud, "Get over it," knowing deep down that those words were much easier said than lived.
Life certainly didn't turn out as I planned.
I didn't plan on giving birth to my first child when I was a mere nineteen days from turning 30. I didn't plan on enduring the shame of infertility, bearing the loss of two unborn children, wearing a very public scarlet letter proclaiming me the wife of a disbarred attorney. I didn't plan on working nights until three or four in the morning to help support our family.
The question struck a chord with my past. Then again, whose life doesn't this question resonate with? I don't know anyone whose life has gone perfectly according to plan.
Presently, one recent college graduate in our family is back at home living with his parents--unable to find any jobs he's qualified for, rejected because he's "over qualified" for other jobs available. Another family member is knocking on 30 yet has been unable to find a Christian mate to share her life with. And yet another suffers painful flareups from a lifelong, incurable disease.
This was not their plan either. So, what does a person do when The Plan doesn't happen? When people mistreat you? When you're simply disappointed with life in general?
Kay Arthur's As Silver Refined: Answers to Life's Disappointments answers these questions and more as she seeks to show how disappointment can lead to discouragement, dejection, despair, and demoralization, what she refers to as the "five Deadly D's."
The secret to victory in disappointments? Never allow the enemy to get his foot in the door and send our minds on that spiraling path downward. Christians must recognize that disappointments are really God's appointments, all part of His holy plan to sanctify each of us, making us all more like Christ.
When one feels disappointed, broken, she must decide whom to believe--to believe God is at work, causing everything to work for her good or to believe God is not in control anymore, is a liar when His Word says everything is sifted through His hands. Secondly, she must choose how to respond to the disappointment, brokenness. Arthur argues that meekness is how one must respond, that meekness involves lowering oneself in humility, "acting rather than reacting" (69).
Although meekness gets a pretty bad rap as mousiness, Arthur shows "to be meek is to be calmly strong. Meekness is supernatural. It's an inwrought grace of the soul." Several chapters are devoted to helping Christians properly understand true meekness as lived out by Jesus, Moses, and others throughout Scripture, how meekness affects not only our relationship with God but our relationship with others as well.
Although this text is not an easy beach-side read, it is not a high-brow read either, and it does not gloss over the brokenness people feel in such disappointments. On the contrary, her writing is littered with numerous true stories of others' living through their own disappointments. She shows the pain--physical and emotion--that permeate the lives of Christians to the point where they are in the pit of despair and just want to die, but she also shows how understanding the concept of "meekness" helps them look up to Christ and live in peace, in victory.
Although this book was first published years before Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, I hear Voskamp echoing "all is grace" throughout Arthur's text. If God is Sovereign, if He reigns over and allows all things, the good and the bad, then the disappointments are grace.
Life is a battle. Its disappointments are constantly refining the Christian's soul for kingdom warfare.
It's easy to be flattened by life's disappointments. Yet to live in peace, in victory, to trust that God is Sovereign and only acts towards us in loving kindness--that kind of living is not for cowards. It is not for the mousy. But it is for the meek.