There are just some days which you never seem to forget. When I was around 13 years old, my dad was struggling with his employment status. He was a school superintendent, and it appeared that the school board was not going to renew his contract. Untrue rumors were circulating within the community, and unfortunately, they were believed. Realizing that his “days were numbered,” he became the high school principal of a neighboring school district. I was with him when he cleaned out his office. Once we got home and began to carry his work boxes inside, my dad lost it. In the middle of the kitchen, encircled by me and my mom, dad started to sob uncontrollably. This was the first time that I had ever seen my father cry.
I’m not sure if it was because he felt like a failure, or if it was believing that he had let his family down, or if the weight of stress had finally been lifted from his shoulders. The disappointment that I saw on his face and that streamed from his tears will be forever etched on my mind. This once proud man had been broken, and this young teen wondered if he would ever recover.
I relay this personal story of disappointment because I know it effects people daily. Maybe it’s the disappointment at the loss of job or finances. Maybe it’s the disappointment of a broken relationship or marriage. Maybe it’s the disappointment of fractured trust or betrayal. Maybe it’s the disappointment of always trying as things never seem to “quite go our way.” Disappointment is real and it stings. Over the last month I’ve experienced my own disappointment in working for the national church. Sometimes its just hard to fathom how you can do quality work, accomplish much, but others desire change. I suppose disappointment is just a fact of life. That part is true. But how we deal with it is a whole other matter.
If we allow it, disappointment can cause us to become angry, bitter, frustrated, and even worthless. Just look at Judas Iscariot in the bible. He had high hopes that Jesus would be a governmental revolutionary and overthrow the Romans. But when he realized that Christ was focused more on expanding God’s Kingdom, he became disappointed. This disappointment caused him to sell Jesus out for 30 silver coins and eventually commit suicide. I realize that being disappointed can cause much heartache, but in these times may we be drawn to Jesus himself. In Matthew 11:28-30 the Lord says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Even though disappointment can bear on our souls, there are other biblical examples where God blesses even in lost. In the Old Testament book of Ruth there was a woman by the name
of Naomi. Much of Naomi’s life was filled with grave disappointment. She was forced to move from her homeland because of famine. In a foreign land her husband died, her two sons died, and she became economically vulnerable. But even in these horrific situations God continued to walk with her and bless her. Naomi’s daughter-in-law, Ruth, would not leave her under any circumstance. After moving back to Bethlehem Ruth eventually married a man named Boaz who took care of both women. Out of Ruth and Boaz’s marriage a son was born, who would be part of the family tree of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Disappointments are never pleasant. But even in the sadness and distress God can still work providing opportunities and new paths for living.
Remember my dad? He had a wonderful career as a high school principal and later became a superintendent of a vocational school. In his retirement he ran for public office and was elected the county treasurer. I’m sure he never thought that any of this would be possible in the throws of his demotion. But God had other plans.
As each one of us experience likely disappointments, may we be sustained by Jesus, realizing that Christ is working in our lives, leading us to people, places, and experiences that we could have never imagined.