This article originally appeared in the June 26 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle
© 06.23.08 By D. Eric Williams
Disappointment is a part of everyone's life. A missed opportunity, a wrong choice, family problems: all of these things and more may be a source of disappointment and sorrow. Yet, as those who are in Jesus Christ, is disappointment a legitimate emotion? In other words, when we are disappointed with our life isn't that a sign our faith is weak? Well, yes and no.
You see, God created mankind with a vexing set of characteristics known as emotions. He designed us so when we are pleased with something we experience happiness. He made us so we become sad when we experience a loss. He fashioned us in such a way that when things don't turn out as we planned we are disappointed. In every case our emotional response is a legitimate expression of how God has made us. Yet our emotions are not supposed to be the end but a means of alerting us to deeper things and moving us forward in Christ.
For instance, suppose you're sitting at home one day meditating upon the blessings of family. As you consider the members of your household and the unique qualities which God has placed in each of them, you begin to feel the warm glow of happiness. I suppose there is nothing wrong if - from time to time - you never move beyond that point. But I think the emotion of happiness is designed to alert you to the need to thank God for your family and to remind you the well-ordered home is not an accident. Hence the happiness you feel should cause you to thank the Lord and petition Him to enable you to properly serve your household in the capacity entrusted you as father, mother or child. Thus, even happiness should be experienced as unto the Lord. Your joy should compel you to thank and praise the Creator and energize you to redouble your efforts to serve Him. To make a habit of doing otherwise is to turn the favorable emotion inward and misuse happiness in a self-centered way.
Likewise, sorrow is designed by God to show us the value of something lost. As I have written elsewhere, "sorrow awakens us to the fact something we cherish has been lost and God would have us to use the energy of grief to heighten our awareness of His goodness. I am not trying to be clever; I'm encouraging you to recognize that heartache is actually designed to remind us of God's tremendous blessings. All to often we do not recognize the gifts of the Father until they are gone. All too frequently we take this life for granted and complain about the state of affairs rather than give thanks. Sorrow is designed to alert us to the wonder of this life and to sharpen our focus as we recall the blessings we received from those who are gone."
In the same fashion we need to recognize disappointment as a signal. It may be alerting us to a lack of trust in God; it might also be a sign we are neglecting to seek God's direction for our life. Indeed, disappointment may be used by God to accomplish both of these tasks at once. For example, if you're disappointed over a career choice then perhaps it is because God is urging you to better utilize the gifts and abilities He has given you. If it is impossible to change jobs, your disappointment may be designed to show you the folly of ignoring God's plan and alert you to the need to accept your condition and forge ahead in faith. God is big enough to bring good out of any situation so it is wrong for you to wallow in disappointment. Remember, all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be the Firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:28-29). Amen.