What’s the point of disappointment? It seems cheeky to be disappointed with God, doesn’t it? In being disappointed that something hasn’t happened, or at least hasn’t happened the way we wanted, are we acting like bratty kids? I mean we know that God will do things in his timing; we need only to have faith. So really what justification do we have to be disappointed?
Much like feelings of sadness or despair, disappointment is a feeling. It should not dictate how we view our circumstances or our God. However, it is a reflection of the desires and hopes that are in our hearts. It’s not “unchristian” for us to feel disappointment but, as with most things, how we respond in seasons of disappointment is important.
It’s fair to assume that Joseph was fairly disappointed when the baker and the cupbearer forgot about him in prison. However, in true God fashion, persevering through disappointment can lead us to a deepening of our relationship with Him as we know He uses all things for our good.
Disappointment is a sticky topic of conversation in church because everyone is going to give you the same response: “Just trust God and in His timing, He will do it.” That is true. It’s just not always helpful, especially when disappointment goes past sadness into frustration.
Neither is it comforting when actually, what we are waiting for isn’t coming because God has something completely different in mind. The advice I needed at times like this was how to navigate my way through disappointment because the truth is disappointment doesn’t disappear in a day. Some emotions are fleeting and some linger. Disappointment is a lingerer.
Disappointment can be bitter. When it seems like God is distant it has the potential to bring resentment and frustration to boiling point within us.
So what does God want from us in a season of disappointment? Honestly, submission.
If something happens to me that I feel is unfair or unjust the last thing I want to do is to lie down and take it. That’s why people protest; we rise up against what we refuse to submit to.
Even in our own lives sometimes we protest against the process God has put us in because submitting hardly seems powerful or progressive. However, in the Bible submission was often very powerful. However we want to frame it—submission, surrender, sacrifice—it’s an act of worship to trust God when He doesn’t grant us the desires of our heart.
The key example of this is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. When confronted with the choice between the Father’s will and His own. Jesus chose to surrender and walk the long journey to the cross saying “Not my will, but Yours.”
What do you think of when you think of submission? Defeat, a loss of freedom or sacrificing your autonomy? In reality, it is both of those things. However we don’t surrender as an act of weakness, our surrender is a sign of worship. As so eloquently put by Hillsong United, we find our lives when we lay them down. At least, we find out who is really in control of our lives.
Disappointment is the pain attached to realizing that something you hoped to happen has not or will not happen the way you wanted it to. In this space of vulnerability, we have the opportunity to surrender, to become like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane saying, “Not my will, but Yours.” You can’t surrender to something you’re willing to do. By nature, surrender implies choosing an outcome that you did not opt for. But when we submit to God we really do have more to gain that to lose.
Disappointment bears a silence that forces us to lean in closer to God to hear what He is saying. Disappointment hangs in the air like a fog, clouding the possibility that this very situation could be a catalyst to calling, which in turn forces us to go deeper into God as we search for the purpose of the road we are walking on.
If even Jesus had to submit to a will contrary to His own then it is fair to assume that we will also have to at some point.
In the midst of our disappointment and submission, we are pulled in close to God and drawn deeper into our trust for Him. We are provided with the opportunity to worship Him with our life and with our choices. We agree to put our complete trust in Him which not only grows out faith but strengthens our resolve.
Disappointment can seem like a futile season to be in. But if we see it as an opportunity to surrender, I believe it is always a precursor to something new and more beautiful.