Things didn’t turn out like I expected. Most often, things don’t. Everything from expectations on others, on my life and on God more often than not seem to go in a way I could not have predicted nor expect.
Often the loss of that unmet, albeit often misplaced, expectation leads us to the place of disappointment.
Disappointment can give way to despair and cause us to wrongly assume our value is somehow tangled in that web.
My father left me disappointed in the divorce, so I must not be worth staying for.
We repeat the lies to ourselves and the disappointment digs deep and begins to define us. Maybe for you it’s the betrayal of a spouse, the unmet expectations of a child or even the political unrest that surely would have been solved by the meeting of our own expectations.
We have expectations on everything and everyone from ourselves to the government. Likely the real culprit is God. He is the one not meeting expectations if He is the Sovereign one in control. He didn’t put someone, I expected into power. He didn’t keep my spouse, child, parent from hurting me.
How can we find the peace our soul craves when disappointment looms around every corner?
Dearly loved friends of Jesus felt this yearning for peace as they wrestled with deep disappointment in the face of fear and death.
Lazarus was ill. Sick unto death even. Word got to Jesus and SO WHEN HE HEARD…He stayed two more days. In their great disappointment, two sisters watched their brother die. If only Jesus had met their expectation and come when He was called, acted when they prayed, moved when they cried. But He didn’t. He waited. He stayed away two more days before starting the trip towards them.
Lazarus was dead. Hope was lost. Jesus had failed. You can hear it in Marth’s voice, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21)
But God. Oh, He always has a plan, a purpose, a greater yes for every no. He ALWAYS comes through and every disappointment will one day find its full redemption in Him.
That day outside Bethany, He spoke and physical life entered Lazarus once more. Lazarus became the living proof that there is a greater yes in the places we perceive God has failed.
But what about when you actually bury that loved one? What about when the divorce is final? What about when the disappointment becomes your now reality?
How do we find peace there?
In the same way that Jesus had a plan, purpose and greater yes for those weeping sisters, He has a plan and purpose for our lives too. And if we are willing, He will offer us peace in the disappointment, even if our circumstances do not change.
It begins with trust. Consider Jesus’s poignant question to Martha, “Do you believe [I am the resurrection and the life]?” Not just that He is able but that He is the fulfillment of our need. Trusting Him, regardless of the outcome. Knowing He is able and is choosing what is the greater yes for purposes we may not see this side of Heaven.
It is coming to Him. Martha told her sister that Jesus had returned. Even in her disappointment, Mary didn’t let that keep her from Him. “She rose quickly and went to Him” (John 11:20). Rather than letting the disappointment fester and give root to despair and defeat and hard heartedness, Mary brought the whole thing to Jesus. She laid it out for Him, “had you been here my brother would not have died.” Jesus is not scared of our disappointment, honesty, pain or tears. But if we let them keep us from Him, we might miss the greater gift of coming near to our Redeemer.
Finally, our peace in disappointment is often found in obedience. Jesus invites us into the ordinary so we might see the extraordinary. He may not raise the dead before us physically, but He may bring reconciliation to a dead marriage, healing to a broken heart or fresh hope in the face of grief.
Jesus invited the people to remove the stone.
A stone He could have disintegrated with a word. He invited people to remove grave cloths that He could have removed with a thought. Jesus doesn’t need us to obey to accomplish His purposes. But when we respond to His invitation with obedience, we often catch beautiful glimpses of His work we would have otherwise missed.
Life offers plenty of opportunity for disappointment. But God offers plenty more opportunities for trusting Him, coming to Him and responding in ordinary obedience so we might catch a glimpse of our extraordinary God and walk through disappointments with peace.
Need an anchor in the midst of disappointment? Spend time worshiping God by His knowing Him better through His Word for yourself with my free guide, Tools for Tending your Soul.