“I am really disappointed!” Have you ever spoken those words? Maybe you’ve gotten the news that something you were hoping to get or achieve is now impossible. Or maybe you tried a new and promising treatment for your pain, but it didn’t bring the relief you’d hoped for. Has someone you counted on let you down? These disappointments can sometimes send us reeling emotionally, trying to reset a compass that we thought was right and reliable. Where do we go when we find out that our direction was misinformed? How do we keep going when we feel crushed because things didn’t go the way we’d hoped?
Well, I think the first thing to do is to think about the object of our hope. Did we put our hope in that achievement, material thing, treatment, or person? As believers, we know that our hope is in Christ. He is our refuge, our strong tower, and our only hope for salvation. But we also live in this world, and as humans, we will sometimes hope for things here in our temporary home. The problem comes when we begin to put our hope for happiness in things that are not God. Goals, health, and relationships are all good things to pursue. But if we are crushed when they let us down, it is a sign that we have placed too much hope in them.
Secondly, we have to think about our God. If we really examine the course of our lives, we know that He has never disappointed us. We may have at times been disappointed in Him, but it wasn’t because of anything He did or didn’t do. It was because we expected something of Him that was simply not His will for us. Even if it was a good thing, and would (in our view) be for our good and His glory, there must have been something else that He knew would be for our greater good and His greater glory.
Finally, we have to be sure of God’s love for us. Do we really believe He loves us when we feel crushed by disappointment? Did we lose track of His love for us as we pursued the love of others, or of things, or of goals? As we deal with disappointment, we need to carefully examine whether we truly believe that He loves us and desires our best good. We need to remember that ALL things work together for good (Romans 8:28) to those who love God (us) and are called according to His purpose (to glorify Him, Isaiah 43:7). We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Because of that love, we can be sure that even though we are surprised and disappointed by our circumstances, He is not.
Our sweet Savior can take our disappointment, mix it with His love, and turn it into something better. As we grow and change to be more like Him, these disappointments will become less crushing, because we will put our hope in nothing and no one but Him. As we grieve our losses, we won’t grieve like those without hope because we know that our real hope is in the eternal, unchanging, always loving God of the universe.