Dealing With Disappointment      Luke 15:18-32      December 12, 2004

Introduction
The title of this lesson seems to really focus on the last verses. In teaching this lesson I think you will need to refer to the entire chapter. I will suggest we look at the three characters in this parable, and then the focus of the last verses.

1.    The Prodigal Son's Dealing With Disappointment. Vs 18-21

A.    Disappointment that Sin Took Him Places He Really didn't Want to Go.
    18 I'll get up, go to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight.

B.    Disappointment that Sin Kept Him Longer than He Really Wanted to Stay.
    19 I'm no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.'
20 So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.

C.    Disappointment that Sin Cost Him More than He Really Wanted to Pay.
    21 The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I'm no longer worthy to be called your son.'

We may suggest the prodigal Son thought his life would be one big celebration without disappointment. Disappointment came as his sin took him places he really did not want to go.
Then sin kept him longer than he wanted to stay and brought further disappointment. Finally he had to say his sin cost him more than he wanted to pay. Can you imagine a Jewish boy of fine upbringing feeding pigs and eating their food? He dealt with disappointment in his repentance toward the father, and a willingness to become a lowly servant.
 

2.    The Father's Dealing With Disappointment. Vs 20 b -22-24

A.    Dealing with Disappointment with a Compassionate . . Look. v 20 b
    ". . . But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion."

B.    Dealing with Disappointment with Compassionate . . Listening.
    21 The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I'm no longer worthy to be called your son.'

C.    Dealing with Disappointment with Compassionate . . Lavishness
    22 "But the father told his slaves, 'Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let's celebrate with a feast, 24 because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' So they began to celebrate.

When I think about the father's stance toward his returning son it brings tears to my eyes. We can imagine he regularly looked toward the far country and prayed for his prodigal son. Can we inject into the parable He dealt with disappointment through prayer and concern. I love the words ". . . But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion." He saw his son before his son even realized he was looking. Then we have the words of the son and the listening of the father. He listened, but didn't listen; no way he will let his son be a servant but planned for him to have a proper robe and ring. The father was lavish in his welcome to his prodigal son. He dealt with disappointment with forgiveness.
 

3.    The Elder Son's Dealing With Disappointment. Vs 25-32

A.    Dealing with Disappointment Through A Lack of . . Awareness. Vs 25-26
    25 "Now his older son was in the field; as he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he summoned one of the servants and asked what these things meant.
27 'Your brother is here,' he told him, 'and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.'

B.    Dealing with Disappointment Through A Lack of . . Appreciation. Vs 28-30
    28 "Then he became angry and didn't want to go in. So his father came out and pleaded
with him. 29 But he replied to his father, 'Look, I have been slaving many years for you, and I have never disobeyed your orders, yet you never gave me a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your assets with prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.'

The elder son seems to be sour before he even knew what celebration took place. He lacked an awareness that his brother had come home, and perhaps in a sour attitude made his investigation. At first I can understand his reaction. Why celebrate his brother's return when he has lived such a detestable life. We see in this elder brother how not to deal with disappointment. He is disappointed in his brother's repentance and turns inward focusing only on his self. He failed to recognize the blessing that were his in the presence of his father. He dealt with disappointment with a pity party, and that rarely, if ever, helps.
 

4.    Dealing With Disappointment . . Kept In Focus. Vs 31-32

A.    Focus on Our . . Possessions In Christ. v 31
    31 " 'Son,'he said to him, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.

B.    Focus on Our . . Privileges In Christ. v 32
    32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is
alive again; he was lost and is found.' " Luke 15:18-32 (HCSB)

When we deal with disappointment we must focus on the possessions we have in Christ. We are always with Him and every thing He has is available to us. We can also focus on the privileges we have in Christ. We have the privilege of celebration when the lost come to Christ.  I believe the soul winning Christian really knows how to relate while Dealing With Disappointment. Amen? Amen!