Disappointment- The Gift No One Wants

gift no one wantsBy Rosie Moore

Disappointment: Synonyms: sadness, regret, dismay; sorrow. Definition: sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.

Disappointment stops us in our tracks. Past disappointments can literally hold us in their grip and throttle today’s joys. Fear of future disappointments can be so paralysing that we cannot mobilise our courage to try new things or take risks. “Once bitten, twice shy,” we say, as we settle for mediocrity and procrastination. One of the worst pains of a parent is watching or anticipating our children’s disappointments. We dread their spirits being crushed. The Proverb is true:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:1).

Social humiliation is one of our most primal human fears which goes hand in hand with disappointment. Perhaps that’s because fear of man has always been such a powerful idol. David prayed often that he would not be put to shame.

“O my God, in you I trust;
    let me not be put to shame;
    let not my enemies exult over me.”  (Psalm 25:2).

We’ve been made in the image of God to thrive in a creation that is perfectly good.

We long for a good life with no disappointments, doubts, discouragements, depression, despair and death. We long for Eden before the thorns and thistles. No wonder my kids and I love listening to this song of Jason Mraz on the way home from school.

“May you know the meaning of the word happiness
May you always lead from the beating in your chest
May you be treated like an esteemed guest
May you get to rest, may you catch your breath…”

Having it all.

No matter how much we long after utopia, life has shown me that the “charmed life” doesn’t exist this side of heaven even for the most privileged and gifted people. We can only dream of “having it all!” If we dig a little deeper into people’s lives and wait a little longer for things to unravel, we almost always find a back story of anxiety, fear and struggle that is hidden from public view. There is no vaccine against the brokenness of this world, although there is plenty of beauty, happiness and love mixed in. Gratitude is the best antidote to everyday troubles. But, if we are honest, we are prone to discouragement even when life is exceptionally good. Perhaps it’s better to accept the reality that there is no such thing as equal opportunities or equal outcomes. Comparisons are useless. We just need to make the best choices with what we’ve got.

Disappointment is not a futile diversion.

But for a Christian– a true Christ follower– disappointment is not a pointless diversion or blight, but a meaningful gift that can mould our character to look more like Jesus. It detaches us from the things we place our hope in and reconnects us to the only person who can bear our hopes eternally–God Himself. It tethers us to what matters. Disappointment is the gift no one wants and only a masochist would seek it out. But if we reluctantly find the gift of disappointment in our hands, we can either jump up and down in horror or make the choice to open the wrapping and dig a deeper mine of faith in God.

Treasures in the vacuum.

We will discover treasures in the vacuum of “deferred hope.” If we process the disappointment rather than avoid it, it will slowly dawn on us that we are not master of our own fate. We will come to love what is written on the card that accompanies the gift:

My beloved child. You have My Word that I will make all things in your life (that includes things that are good and bad; easy and hard; joyful and desperate) work together for your good, so that you will become more like my Son, Jesus. Let your older Brother show you the good way. Your loving Father.  P.S. Be assured that my love for you is the ultimate trump card. Keep Romans 8:28-29 and 31-39 handy at all times.)

Conformity to the likeness of Jesus: That’s the point and purpose of disappointment for all those who love God and are called to be His. And it includes the greatest humiliations and injustices, pain and suffering.

In Romans 5:5, Paul says,  “Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Most translations render the word “disappoint” as “put to shame…”

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Rom 5:1-5 NIV).

Peace with God is not a feeling that comes and goes with the circumstances of life. It is a status secured only by putting our trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Peace with God is a state of being right with God, acquiring the permanent status of a child of God with direct access to Him through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Without Jesus there can be no peace with God. There is no disappointment or humiliation on earth that can mess with this peace with God. It means that I can pray to God any time without fear. What a contrast this is to the pitiful state of Adam and Eve as they covered their nakedness with fig leaves and tried to hide their shame from God in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:7-10)

Hope does not disappoint.

I bask in the warmth of God’s grace, 
I stand secure, at peace with God.
I trust only in Christ my Saviour– the perfect Lamb
Who takes away the sin of the world.
I trust in the Lord Jesus–the sinless mediator
Whose innocent death split the temple curtain,
Giving me access to a holy God.
I boast in the sure hope that on the day I die, I will be in His presence
To enjoy His beautiful face for all eternity.
I hope in a new heaven and new earth
Where He will wipe away every tear,
And death shall be no more, 
Neither mourning, nor crying,
Nor pain anymore, ever. 
I glory in my sufferings today, because they have a purpose.
They sever the cord attaching me to all the things I boast in.
I glory in growing a deeper faith in my God;
a persevering, faithful spirit;
a strong, buoyant character;
an irrepressible hope that refuses to give in to despair.
I feel the warmth of God’s love pulsing through His Spirit.
For hope does not put me to shame.
Hope does not disappoint.

God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

In disappointment, I resonate with what David wrote a millenium ago in the closing verses of Psalm 73:

23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.

24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”