Mistaken Disappointment

Elizabeth Elliot, in her book Let Me Be a Woman, tells the story of Gladys Aylward. Now Gladys had a problem. She was disappointed with God, because she felt he had been unfair to her. She thought that the looks God had given her were a major mistake. As she was growing up she felt God had given her two great sorrows to bear. The first was that while all her friends had beautiful golden hair, hers was a dark raven black. The second was that while all her friends were still growing, she had stopped, and at four feet ten inches she was as tall as she would ever get. Gladys was different. She stood out from everyone else, dark and short when she wanted to be blonde and tall.

Despite these disappointments that succeeded in clouding her view of God, she went on to become a missionary to China. At last, after a long journey, she reached this far country to which God had called her into his service. When she got off the boat, she stood alone on the wharf in Shanghai and looked around at the people to whom God had sent her. Suddenly, a revelation of understanding surged through Gladys. Every single one of the Chinese going about their business on the wharf had raven black hair. And, almost every one of them appeared to have stopped growing exactly when she had. With a new acceptance of God’s providence, of his provision for her life, she was able to turn her heart’s focus to her Lord and exclaim, “Lord God, You knew what you were doing!”

We all need to know, using Gladys as an example, that in order to accomplish what we want to do in life we have to keep our focus on God. We must believe that every rending of our heart, every struggle that seems to impede the progress toward the goal that God has given us, is necessary. We need to believe that God knows what he is doing.

Gladys Aylward spent too many years of her life believing God had made a mistake and she was it. It took her actually seeing the Chinese people standing in front of her to turn around her understanding of God’s purpose, for her to see that God actually did have a plan for Gladys’ life, that he actually knew what was best for her.