I once read somewhere that Disappointment is that place somewhere between Expectation and Reality. If this place exists, then much of my life has been lived in that place. I hate that place. I try really, really, really hard to stay out of that dreaded place, but I guess that’s where Realists usually end up. At least I think that’s where they are – along with Pessimists. It’s also the place Perfectionists live – that gray space where you remain until you’ve thought through every scenario and made a plan for every contingency. I’m a little bit of “all of the above.” People who know me well can attest to this.
The only (and huge) problem is: life is all about that gray area. Life just can’t be planned for all contingencies. You can try, but God’s plans are bigger. There’s your Expectation that your plans will pan out, and then there’s the Reality that God could have very different plans for you. You can try to make informed life decisions with the information you’re given… but that’s just it: you’re really given very little to work with. What I know is only a tiny pixel in the whole picture God has already planned for me. God is big, I am not.
Still, I think I’m pretty big. I still try to impose my Expectations on Reality. No, I don’t just try; I fight, kicking and screaming, against my Father’s plans for me – all the while not even knowing what they are! His plans could be amazing, for all I know. But still I fight, only to have my Expectations fail to become Reality, and I end up in Disappointment.
Why do I do it? Because I think I know better. Because I must be… a child. A stubborn, disobedient child who is loved by a great and almighty Father.
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
- Psalm 139: 13-14
So how can I deal with Disappointment? What do I do when that job opportunity I wanted so badly and got so close to never comes to fruition? Multiple times? What do I when relationships I hold dear aren’t reciprocated? What do I do when people I love experience crushing hardship and I can’t do anything about it? What do I do when my earnest prayers seemingly go unanswered? What do I do with rejection upon rejection?
I could wallow there, in Disappointment. I’ve been and stayed there often. It’s not a good place to be. Or better, I can take heart and run to God. Like a Father who cares for his children, my Father listens to me when I come before Him. He knows me, because He made me. He knows me, which is why I can’t hide from Him. He knows my fears and failures, my joy and successes, my hopes and dreams. He knows my heart – all the parts I’ve surrendered to Him, all the parts I still need to surrender, and all the parts I refuse to surrender.
The cure for Disappointment is just that: surrender. Utter, complete surrender of my will to God’s will. But why do that? Do it because God is trustworthy. Because He will see everything to the end. He promised us this. He promised to reconcile us to Himself. He accomplished this through the cross of Christ and the example of Jesus on that cross: total surrender to the Father’s will. Surrendered so that God’s will would play out and we could have salvation.
Aren’t you glad Jesus surrendered His will to the Father on the cross? I am, because through it I have gained life and a way out of Disappointment and into Hope.
So when life gets you down, and your dreams and plans don’t pan out… What do you do? Run. Run to your Father for comfort. He’s there for you. I can’t tell you what this looks like for you, but I can tell you what it looks like for me. It looks like desperation. I’m desperately seeking His will because I know I can’t rationalize my way out of Disappointment. But what I can do is hold on to His Word. It’s sad to admit this, but I have only recently, in the past year, really read the Bible. Read it not as a book, but as God’s words to me. I let His words wash over me and wash me of my fears, failures, and regrets. Tears may fall, but that’s okay – that’s part of the washing process. He will dry those tears, give you a new Hope and reveal His divine appointments for your life. Those appointments might be nothing you had ever considered before. But believe me when I say: you will not be disappointed if you place your hope in Jesus. But first, you must surrender. Only you know what that looks like. Surrender and be blessed by His plans, His timing, and his Purpose for your life.