I recently did a study on disappointment and unmet expectations and the promises of God. I want to share the principles of my study with you.
Recognize God, “in all your ways acknowledge Him…” Proverbs 3:5,6. God is sovereign. His kingdom-rule has no boundaries. Look how God worked in the life of Joseph for example. It must have been extremely disappointing to have your brothers turn against you to the point of selling you into slavery in a foreign land. Joseph recognized God’s hand in his situation when he told his brothers, upon their reconciliation, “I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 45:4-8)” It is common to human nature that we see our unmet expectations as a deviation from God’s goodness to us. When we humble ourselves and recognize God’s hand in our situation we will have peace and grace to meet the circumstances.
God is omniscient. He knows all about our struggles, our challenges, and our sorrows. He allowed this disappointment, this deviation from my plans, purposes and desires. And He has the power to see me though. Let us look now to Moses’ life, which was threatened at birth. The law of Pharaoh must have been a disappointment to his parents, but the law remained in place and God worked His purposes through it anyhow. I guess you can’t be rescued by a princess without some circumstance. These events lead to Moses being educated as a prince of Egypt. It was all part of his preparation to lead God’s people. God had an elaborate plan to save this helpless 3 month old’s life during a death-decree. We are short-sighted folks regarding disappointments in our lives. God sees the big picture. ~ and promises all things will work out to His glory.
God is love. His ways are for my good and to benefit me ultimately. We are all familiar with the promise of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” All things, even miserable deviations from our desires – the disappointments in the big cauldron of life experience get stirred and cooked up for good to the benefit of us that love God and are called according to His purpose.
I was especially lead to consider the closing days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. As I read of His betrayal and trial I was especially impressed with Jesus’ silence. Jesus didn’t answer the accusations when standing before the Sanhedrin. Mark 14:61 tells us, “But He held His peace, and answered nothing…” [He only responded when the High Priest asked him directly if he was the Messiah or not (Mark 14: 60-64). At that time Jesus spoke succinctly, affirming that he was indeed the Son of God and the long-awaited Messiah.] He didn’t answer the charges brought before Pilate (Matthew 27:12, 14; Mark 15:3). Herod questioned Him at length, but Jesus “answered him nothing” (Luke 23:9).
Jesus pressed through the disappointment of betrayal and mockery without giving voice to it. So often when we bump into a life-event or simple circumstance that goes against our expectations and desires we complain, grumble and mumble, like the Israelite people. Jesus showed us a better way to handle things. He was able to “hold his peace” (Matthew 14:61) because he surrendered. He had wrestled in prayer and poured it all before His Heavenly Father. I saw that Jesus’ Gethsemane experience was the method for us to look to about how to deal with disappointments.
So disappointment’s answer is not tantrums, venting complaints, and confusion, but going to a loving, ever-present, all-knowing and powerful God in prayer. It is with God, and by prayer that we are to wrestle to the point of surrender. We are to be like Jacob, whose new name was Israel meaning “thou hast striven”, wrestling to lay hold of Jesus and the blessing of surrender. We too can rest in trust, “holding our peace” that God’s plans, purposes, and desires are above our own. We can trust that God knows what He is doing and will make it right in the end. Our times are in His hands.
He walks with us. “Immanuel”, that is the promise (Matthew 1:23)! God is with us, like Elisha’s servant who had his eyes opened to see the army of God surrounding Dothan (2 Kings 6:15-17). He walks with us, like with the three friends who once stood together in a furnace of blazing fire – and there were four (Daniel 3:14-25).
He left us His Spirit as our Comforter and guide. “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever,” states John 14:16.
He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). So let us not despair in our perceived disappointments, but surrender them to God through prayer, trusting fully in His great goodness and His lavish love.