I think that disappointment is rooted in two types of expectations – ‘people expectations’ and ‘life expectations’. People often do not act the way that we expect them to … they let us down and disappoint us. I think that this kind of disappointment is addressed by forgiving people, renouncing lies and repenting behavior. In the last several years the Spirit has done several deep works in my life in this area.
Life expectations however are different.. they are deeper.. they have a somewhat direct link to our expectations of the Lord. We read..
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11-12)
..interpret it with rose colored glasses.. and we are disappointed when harm comes to us, prosperity escapes us and our future seems bleak. I still struggle with this kind of disappointment but not as much as in the past.
I think that we set ourselves up for this kind of disappointment when we are young and naive. We take religious formulas and thinking to ‘logical’ conclusions and are disappointed when they don’t work for us. I think that we sometimes use faith to ‘escape from’ instead of ‘deal with’ hard reality. Interpreting present painful life in light of the truth of God’s love and providence is difficult at best. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he says:
“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?”
Paul’s response to this hardship is found a few verses later when he says:
“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
The older I get the more I can resonate with Paul in a small way. Paul accepted sufferings not only as a part of life but also as God’s plan to refine him in weakness. God seemed to have brought him to a place where he embraced every aspect of life and did not lose hope when it was not as he expected it to be. I’ll end with an insight into Paul’s life perspective from Philippians:
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
May the contentment of Jesus Christ be with you today through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in you.