Disappointed? Good.

In talking with people in crisis, I’m often pressed to deal with situations of disappointment.

It didn’t happen like I expected…

It didn’t go the way I wanted…

I didn’t think this would happen to me…

It brings up an interesting thought when you put disappointment on the bright stage of spiritual formation into Christlikeness. The question is, “What do we do with disappointment?” Here’s my thought:

Disappointment is one of the most critical tools for seeing exactly where we are in the grand drama of maturing to be like Jesus.

Why is that? Very simply…

Disappointment shows us our expectations

Disappointment is all about expectations. What we think, believe, desire and assume is true and real and actual. Expectations come from our view of the world – our worldview. If we expect God to give us every material possession we want, then a God who doesn’t do that is disappointing. If we expect our friends to never let us down and always do the right thing, then when they bail on us we’re disappointed. When we expect our whole marriage to be like the first few months of electric romance and our spouse to fulfill all of our needs and they don’t…you see my point.

Nothing shows us more about the way we see God and our life in Him than our expectations. Nothing reveals our expectations like disappointment.

Jesus trusted God implicitly, and the way He saw the world was one in which no matter what happened, God was sufficient. God was enough. That’s why He could say…

…not my will but yours be done…

…do not fear those who kill the body…

…I have bread you do not know about…

That’s also how Paul could say…

…we rejoice in our sufferings…

And James could say…

Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of any kind…

In each of these cases, the worldview that dominated was a learned understanding that even when things don’t go like we think they should God is still enough.

Notice too, for Paul the rejoicing isn’t a command. It’s simply something that people who follow Jesus learn to do. When we abide with Him (John 15:1-5) we have that eternal quality of life that lets us be okay when others would be disappointed. We can rejoice – which doesn’t mean we’re giddy and happy about it, by the way – even when things get derailed from what we wanted.

This isn’t about lowered expectations – it’s about realistic expectations.

Imagine what life would be like if we honestly expected God to care for us, no matter what?

I can describe it to you, actually.

Just look at the life of Jesus. That’s what it looks like.

So if you’re disappointed today, I understand and I sympathize. But see the good in it as well. This is a time to hear from God where perhaps it is our expectations that are unrealistic, instead of God or the world being out to get us.

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  • Donavan Vicha

    That’s so true. It really seems as though the letdowns of life are what make us look to God. I try to remember in my prayers to thank God for the trials in my life for they’ve always brought me closer to Him.

    • cktygrett

      It reminds me of Dallas Willard in a talk at Talbot saying that Paul says we exult in our tribulations, but it’s not a command – it’s simply something we DO. Profound way of thinking about it – to become the kind of person who naturally rejoices at the hard-edged approach to the shaping of our character into the likeness of Christ. Thanks for the comment!