From Letdown to Lesson Learned
Recently I asked the students in one of my classes to share a lesson they had learned from experiencing a stressful event. Their stories
were moving. Events shared include repeated bouts of cancer, a household move, incarceration, the death of a family member, the end
of a relationship, hurricane Katrina, and an involuntary job switch. Such events can cause one to become discouraged or disappointed,
in other words to feel letdown. However, these students demonstrated resilience by turning their letdowns into lessons learned. Reading
their stories I wondered just how many believers have the same level of resilience, which author Andrew DuBrin says is, “the ability to
withstand pressure and emerge stronger for it. It is a strategy for achieving wellness."

Everyone experiences letdowns in life. Sometimes it is self-instigated as a result of personal disobedience. Other times we feel letdown
when God allows us to experience trials and tribulations. However, as the song goes, “our trials come to make us strong.” I recently
saw a sign on campus that reads, “Failure is not fatal.” This is true when you turn failure into a learning opportunity. In Dr. Samuel
Chand’s book,
Failure: the Womb of Success, 20 ministers, including such notables as Bishop Eddie Long, candidly discuss how the
lessons they learned from mistakes they made in ministry have made them more effective.     

The Bible illustrates how some Biblical figures demonstrated resilience in the face of letdowns and ultimately learned a valuable lesson.  
Joseph learned from his pit to pinnacle experiences that God can bring forth good out of man’s evil deeds
(Genesis 50:20). Paul learned
contentment (happiness independent of external circumstances) from his trials in ministry
(Philippians 4:11). He also taught that God
comforts His children during their affliction so that they can learn how to comfort others
(2 Corinthians 1:4). Job learned that there is
no loss so great that God cannot exceedingly replenish it
(Job 42:12). David learned that refusing to confess sin can result in  physical
and emotional suffering but acknowledging it brings forgiveness (
Psalm 32:1-5). The scripture tells us that even Jesus learned
obedience from the things he suffered (
Hebrews 5:8), which enabled him to identify truly with his followers according to Theologian
Zane Hodges.  

Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us that we do not know or understand all the ways that God is working in our lives. However, we do know that He is
always working for our good (
Romans 8:28). As the saying goes, the end justifies the means. One of my students, Wendy, shared what
I found to be a profound lesson. She said, “I realized that I am naturally adaptable if I accept ambiguity and reach for inspiration in
uncertainty.”

Through their adversities my students learned some valuable lessons about themselves, their fellowman, and their God. Teaching on the
importance of finding the lesson in tragedy,
Bishop Dale Bronner said that in every trial there is a blessing and a lesson, and he urged
believers to look for both.

Letdowns are unavoidable.I have heard many ministers say that as believers we cannot escape tribulation. We are either about to go
through it, are currently experiencing it, or have recently emerged from it. However, it is up to us to decide whether to become bitter or
better from the experience. So vow to turn your letdowns into lessons learned. James said that if we ask for wisdom to understand our
trials God will give it liberally (
James 1:5).
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