- Reliving the past (if only...)
We've all experienced varying degrees of disappointment. As a child we're told NO when we really want to hear YES. As a teenager we're disappointed when that guy or girl we admire doesn't show any interest. Adults experience disappointment when the job or promotion they hope to receive doesn't come through or a spouse forgets our birthday. Many of us are experiencing disappointment right now. Fill in the blank: "I'm disappointed now because _____________."
I was talking with a friend about this topic. Something we wanted so badly didn't happen. These desires (unmet expectations) were really good things to want but they didn't work out the way we hoped it would or when we thought it would. Inevitably those unmet expectations turned into things like anger, frustration, and bitterness. In the circumstances my friend and I were discussing, our disappointments were aimed at God.
Why would God not answer this prayer?
What is He waiting on?
Why would God allow us to go through this?
Answers to these questions will be different for each person and each circumstance. Only the Lord knows the answers and may choose to reveal them to us in time (or in His sovereignty God may choose to never reveal it). Some circumstances in life don't seem to make sense to us. We have limited vision but God can see the whole picture (past, present, and future) and knows perfectly well why things happen the way they do. Ultimately it's our response to these disappointments that are most important.
How should we respond to a disappointment?
We should confess the disappointment to God, pouring our hearts out to Him. He already knows what we're feeling, but talking to God about it opens our hearts up for His love and comfort in the midst of it. If we choose to remain angry at God--giving Him the silent treatment--what good does that do? It only hurts us in the long run and it doesn't get us any closer to an answer either.
Remember that God is in control and has our best interest in mind. Just as a parent will withhold a treat from a child because it might spoil her dinner, God may withhold something we want now because He's got something far better in mind. This is where trust comes in. We have to trust in God's Word and in God himself. "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28)."
It's really easy to get stuck in the If-Onlys and the What-Ifs of the past. We should ask God if it's time to move away from that unmet expectation and ask Him to replace it with anticipation for something He desires for us to have. “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland (Isaiah 43:18-19)."
What about you? How have you handled disappointment? Are there any Bible verses that have helped you with these unmet expectations?