The Pastor said encouragingly; “God loves you, Alice. There's no doubt about that." "But if He loved me, wouldn't He see how much pain I'm in? How much pain 'Tom is in? It's just so unfair. We pray and pray, and God doesn't hear our prayers!"
The Shadow of Disappointment
Any time our hopes are not realized or our expectations or desires are not fulfilled, we feel disappointed. Disappointment can be a passing emotion over a temporary loss, or it may strike powerfully when something permanently changes our lives. A major disappointment can remain within us all the time, shadowing our reactions to everything.
We all experience disappointment for different reasons. How we handle it is the crucial issue.
TWO KEY REASONS FOR DISAPPOINTMENT
Moses had two reasons to be disappointed. First, he was disappointed in people—because his expectations that his people would understand what he wanted to do for them and would accept him were not fulfilled.
Second, he was disappointed in his circumstances. After years of privilege and education in Egypt, he certainly had never dreamed that he would spend the rest of his life tending sheep in a desert. What a discouraging future!
Today, we become disappointed for precisely the same two reasons. When we set our hearts on people or on circumstances, we are usually disappointed. God wants us to set our hearts only on Him. He wants us to trust in His goodness, even in the midst of our deepest disappointments.
Do you ever feel disappointed and exhausted with the mundane routines of life? There is such monotony of doing the same thing every day: the meals, the carpool, the kids, the laundry, the shopping, the housecleaning. Do you have a job that is far below the skills you trained for? Do you have aged parents to care for, to the point that your own activities have had to be severely curtailed? Are your children demanding and too young to appreciate your efforts? God recognizes genuine stress and will help us. Look at the way God relieved Moses:
First, God gave Moses seventy men to help him carry the burden of all these people. He didn't punish him; He helped him. God still uses other people to encourage and help us. But God wasn't finished. He told Moses to tell the Israelites, "Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The LORD heard you when you wailed
Disappointment among God's people wasn't limited to the Old Testament. Jesus' disciples also knew what it was to be keenly disappointed. They had fervently believed that Jesus was the Messiah, and they expected Him to usher in the Messianic kingdom. Instead, He was crucified and buried. And all their hopes were buried with Him in that tomb.
The disciples expected Israel to be rescued from Roman oppression when the Messiah came. Instead, the One on whom they had set their hearts died a criminal's death on a Roman cross. Listen to how Jesus scolded them for doubting Him.
"He said to them, 'How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?' And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself' (Luke 24:25-27).
God had a much bigger plan that the Old Testament foretold. Jesus died and rose again to rescue all humanity from the bondage and oppression of sin. His redemption was not just to bring about a local and temporal change in earthly circumstances but a change in their eternal destiny. Did you ever think that. Jesus can be disappointed with us? He was obviously disappointed with His disciples and their unbelief.
Disappointment: The First Seed of Doubt
Disappointment is the first seed of doubt that intrudes on our faith. Disappointment sounds so harmless, but it's the tip of a wedge that will stop our spiritual growth and make us bitter and defeated (more about that soon). Think of disappointment as a test permitted by God to see if you'll continue trusting Him, obeying Him, and believing that He is good. That brings us back to those two sources of most disappointment: people and circumstances.
HAS A PERSON DISAPPOINTED YOU?
When we place our expectations on people, we are usually disappointed. Has a close friend turned away from you? Has someone betrayed you? If you have set your hopes on your children being all you want them to be, you could be headed for a huge letdown. Did you marry, thinking your husband would meet all your needs? I have to tell you something: No man can meet all of a woman's needs, and no woman can meet all of a man's needs. God made us with a vacant space in our innermost being that only He can fill. So He will always let us experience disappointment with people so that we are driven to find fulfillment in Him.
ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED IN YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES?
If our joy depends on circumstances, we are in trouble, because circumstances are always changing. There are too many variables for them to remain the same. Did you expect a promotion, and someone less qualified got the job instead? Has illness interrupted and permanently altered the plans you had for your family? Has a divorce you never wanted radically changed your circumstances?
How do we prevent the penetration of discouragement and disillusionment.
into our spirits? We find the answer in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "Give thanks in all circumstances."
Thanksgiving—the Antidote to Disappointment
No matter what we are going through, we can find something to be thankful for. First and foremost, we can be thankful because we belong to God. If we have trusted Jesus Christ, God is our heavenly Father. He knows everything we are going through, and He is the only one in the universe who can make bad things work together for our good. So we can thank Him for His presence, His love, His blessings. We can rejoice that He has good plans for our future and that we receive His daily care, no matter how dark our circumstances seem.
We have to learn what the writer of the Seventy-third Psalm learned. When he contemplated the injustice all around him, the success of the wicked, and the troubles of the righteous, he lost his perspective. Then he went into God's house and thought on God's ways, and he adjusted his focus. The psalmist realized that no matter how successful the wicked seemed to be on earth, their destiny was eternal separation from God. And, in contrast, he knew God, and God knew him.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you. (Ps. 73:23-26)
The psalmist had learned that when you have nothing left but God, you realize He is enough. Your questions will not all be answered. Your circumstances may not be improved. The person you set your heart on may not live up to your expectations, but God is the strength of your heart and your portion forever.
I will be joyful in God my Savior (Hab. 3:17-18)