Years ago I was reading a book about grief and helping others through the difficulties of grief when I read this sentence: “Disillusionment is the child of illusion”. The author and even the title of the book has long escaped me but I never forgot that line from the text. Disillusionment is the child of illusion. His point was in reference to the idea that when we grieve, we often feel much disillusionment in light of our loss however insignificant it might be or how profound it might be. You see, in order to be disillusioned you must first believe an illusion. We cannot be disillusioned if we did not first believe an illusion. Which means that our external world of events and circumstances do not cause us to be disillusioned. Our believing the illusion that things are a certain way only to find out they are different than what we believed them to be is what causes the difficult emotion of being disillusioned.
Have you ever been disillusioned? I suspect you have. Most, if not all of us, have been at some or many different points in our life disillusioned. Disillusionment can come in the form of surprise, shock or deep disappointment by someone or some organization failing to behave in a way we believed they would or should. Thus, we’re disillusioned. We’re primed to be disillusioned when we begin to live our lives depending on people or things in ways we were never designed to depend on them. We link our happiness to someone’s physical or mental health believing it will be dependable, consistent, and reliable for a lifetime. Usually we mean our lifetime, not theirs.
Disillusionment can serve us well if we allow it to. It screams or whispers in our soul that we are not living in reality. We need an updated view of human nature and the pain of disillusionment can be that which updates us. For example, athletes may not realize what level of commitment is needed to win their respective championships. I once read that coach Tom Landry said (regarding his role as a coach), was “to renew the minds of my players and to get them to do things they do not want to do in order to achieve what they want to achieve.” Apparently Coach Landry knew that some of his recruits were not living in reality. So he created a little disillusionment in their practice sessions so as to correct their thinking.
Could it possibly be that a loving God would allow the very thing we pray against to occur so that the disillusions we live with will come apart and, in turn, we seek a truth which will withstand the tests of time, sickness, illness and disease? Yes, I think a loving God would allow us to live in a world that is broken throughout even though we choose to believe it is not broken throughout. Author Larry Crabb says, “Sin has affected everything.” We just do not want to believe it. Some people are evil. Some are mean. Some are crazy. Some are shallow. Some are self-absorbed. Some are a mystery. One thing they are not is absolutely dependable. But that doesn’t keep us from depending on them to be what we need them to be so we can keep our current beliefs in place. A loving God wants us to believe that which is true, not simply what we want to be true. Yes, He will allow us to experience great disillusionment because He wants us to believe great truths which are dependable.
Job 23:8-10: But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
This verse tells us He knows, which is in contrast to the reality that you and I do not know. Years ago in my 30’s, I ran marathons (I am not lying, I have pictures, medals, finishers t-shirts, the whole deal so just believe me) and one of the life lessons I learned was that when you see a jogger going along there are two things you do not know about that runner. One is how far he or she is going and the other is how far he or she has been. When you see a runner for a glimpse you have no idea what they have overcome to even be out on the road much less what their destination as a runner might be. However; God knows. If they are training for a marathon He is allowing all their thoughts that underestimate the difficulty of completing the marathon to come to the surface. Each disillusioning thought has to be reevaluated, replaced with a more reality based thought and they keep going if they’re going to succeed. Their disillusionment (pain) was what God used to make their life more real and built less around illusions.
The verse in Job goes on to say “when He has tried me” which implies: testing, purifying, and possibly pain. This testing and purifying produces “gold”, the most valuable substance of the day.
Many times we want the product without the process. What is the process? What you must go through without lying, exaggerating, pretending, cheating, avoiding, cutting corners or believing illusions. This suffering of disillusionment produces character and strength in our soul. It produces depth and joy which is not circumstantial or shallow. We must submit to the process! To submit to the process means submitting to the following:
1. God’s definition of our need. I had a friend in college who came from a wealthy family. One Christmas break he was convinced his parents were giving him a corvette for Christmas. When we returned from break I was as excited as he was to see the new vette. Well, he got a vette alright. It was a Chevette, not a Corvette. His parents agreed that he needed a new car, they just didn’t agree with his definition of the need. Suffering through disillusionment without submitting to Gods’ definition of our need will sign us up for the class again.
2. God’s definition of our provision. This is similar to number one in that our provision will be connected to Gods’ definition of our need, not our definition of our need. This is very applicable to single adults. The kind of spouse you are seeking will look a lot like the way you define your need. Disillusionment can show us we just might be defining our need and provision in ways that rule out or ignore Gods’ direction or wisdom. It is hurtful to ignore God and not just to yourself. Ignoring God has a ripple effect.
3. God’s method. He will use whoever or whatever is most effective at polishing you. We want to shine in ways the culture approves of, but we tend to avoid the polishing that God provides. Disillusionment is God’s polishing if we allow it to reveal our illusions and show us where we have fallen for the cultures prevailing values that really don’t matter at all.
4. God’s timing. This is a tough one to swallow. God is sovereign which means He doesn’t miss a single movement in the universe. It all happens on His watch and He is never early nor is He ever late in His polishing of our lives. Submitting to His timing requires a lot of trust. Trust requires us to have a realistic view of life without many illusions. We all have illusions we aren’t aware of so let’s just surrender and say, “God have your way. Polish at will. Purify me. Make me shine like gold.”
God bless you. I welcome your comments. Matt.