You’re not alone if you feel disillusioned. You’re not the only one who feels this way.
You were probably an excited new believer once who was ready to go out and serve God and love people to Jesus. But then, you were burned by other believers, done dirty by the disciples, or fried by friends in the fellowship.
It’s not that you don’t believe anymore, because you do. You still trust Christ, but you wouldn’t trust some Christians any further than you can throw them.
Your dreams have been dashed.
You have become disillusioned, discouraged, and disheartened.
When you first came to know Jesus, it all seemed so simple. Now when you pray, if you pray, you honestly don’t anticipate hearing an answer from God.
You wonder, “Surely the promises of God must work for somebody, somewhere. Why don’t they work in my life?”
Despite all you know about God, Jesus, the Bible, the church, and Christianity; it all seems to be talk—nice words.
But words without life.
Maybe you even wonder if Jesus, like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, is not merely another fairy tale character who doesn’t exist.
You become disillusioned.
You lose the vision and the excitement.
Gary S. Paxton, the Christian songwriter and musician, has a poster in his recording studio that says:
I’ve been poked, pulled, punched, beaten up, kicked, lied to, cheated, ripped off, and robbed. The only reason I hang around this place is to see what’s going to happen next.
It happens to all of us; you’re not alone! As a matter of fact, you are in good company.
You are not the first person to experience disillusionment. Robert McFarlane, one of the cabinet members during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, attempted to commit suicide by taking an overdose of valium. After his recovery, Barbara Walters asked him why he had done it. He answered, “I thought the world could be a better place without me.”
One of the greatest misconceptions about the Bible is that the lives and legends of old were only about super-saints. They were people who never had a problem, never had a toothache, never had an ingrown toenail, and never had a trial in their life.
This is certainly not true!
In fact, the Bible clearly demonstrates how God uses ordinary people like you and me to accomplish his purposes.
And what’s more, disillusionment is not a new problem.
Jeremiah was one of the greatest prophets of all, yet there was a time in his life he was disillusioned.
“O Lord, you deceive me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long.” (Jeremiah 20:7-8)
I interpret Jeremiah’s words this way, “God, this isn’t working out like you said it would!”
Why does God allow things to happen the way they do?
Can anyone pick up the pieces of a shattered dream and put it back together again?
Yes, God can. And he does.
But that doesn’t mean the Christian life is a beach party free of storms. Just look at the example of Jesus. If anyone ever had trouble, He did. He was perfect and sinless, and He still had problems.
People said Jesus was demon-possessed.
His family rejected him and said he was insane.
His disciples disappointed him and left him to die virtually alone.
Yet Jesus said:
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against youbecause of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
Jesus never said, “Follow me—get your name up in lights and live a life of luxury and pleasure.”
In fact, he promised the opposite. He said, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).
The Christian life is not a playground—it is a battlefield with eternal consequences at stake.
Let’s face it: life is tough. We live in an evil, imperfect world where it is difficult to live for Jesus.
But life is never simple.
Ken Abraham said:
Many Christians have a sad tendency to live on “Someday Isle”: Someday I’ll be successful. Someday my prince will come. Someday my dreams will come true. They call their frequent trips to “Someday Isle” journeys of faith. More often than not, their unfulfilled fantasies can be attributed to foolishness, procrastination or laziness. It’s time to get real. Why should God open a door of greater opportunity and responsibility if you are not doing your best to use what he has already given you?
God never promised us a rose garden.
In his book God is Not Fair, Joel Freeman makes the point that God does not treat us all the same way.
We interpret this to mean God is not fair.
We expect our Christian lives to be lived with the same amount of pain, suffering, joy and laughter as everyone else.
We don’t want any more sorrow than anyone else.
However, we all know life does not work that way and God does not treat us all the same. Some have more sorrow than others. Some have more joy. That is a fact.
As a pastor, I have sat down across the desk scores of times with disillusioned Christians.
People who have burned out of ministry.
People who choose themselves over their spouse and kids and leave them behind. And those left behind end up in my office, feeling hopeless.
Or parents who have come to me and said:
“Brother Jeff, I tried to be a good parent. I gave them music lessons, they were on the football team, or the drill team, and involved in all the right school activities. We took them to church, and they were active in the youth group. We prayed as a family, listened to what you said about parenting and our daughter is pregnant at age 17. Brother Jeff, it didn’t work.”
Friends, this is where the rubber meets the road.
A lot of preaching is afraid to admit there are problems in the Christian life. Right now, we are trying to pick up the pieces of the lives of those who were involved in the Charismatic movement over the last five decades.
Those who have heard the Christian life was:
“No work and all ease,
All honey and no bees.”
When your emotions run out, where are you? You are left with nothing. That is why you must base your life on the eternal principles of the Word of God. The whole secret to the Christian life is keeping our eyes on Jesus and following him, even when life is hard.
Especially when life is hard!
Secondly, we need to create a place where people can come who are hurting and discouraged and can find help and rest for their souls (church). Yes, life is difficult for all of us. Whether you are a Christian or an unbeliever, you are still going to have problems.
The choice is yours on how you will meet those problems—as a Christian or on your own. You can do it on your own, but I have chosen to face life with the Lord and a body of believers who love and accept me.
My eyes are not on men, but my eyes are on Jesus. I’m not talking about literally keeping our eyes on Jesus because we can’t see him with our physical eyes. I’m speaking of this as a disposition of the heart.
Specific things you can do to keep your eyes on Jesus include:
- Reading the word of God daily.
- Attending Bible study and worship.
- Resisting all negativity
- Trusting in God’s promises
- Not giving up
- Learning to live one day at a time.
I know this may not be the trip you signed up for.
You may have been blaming someone else for keeping you from following Jesus. Maybe you feel your spouse, children, parents, church, pastor, or perhaps even God Himself has let you down.
Jesus simply says, “You follow me.” That’s it.
Copyright © 2020 by Jeff Swart. Used with permission. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.