Eliminate the “D” Words Part 1 - Disappointment
Psalm 22:5, Psalm 118:8, Romans 10:11, Romans 8:6-8, Lamentations 3:25
It’s quite amazing if you search for negative words in English and find out how many of them start with the letter “D”. This is the first of a series on those dreaded “D” words that characterize our lives as flawed and fallen humans (and “dread” will be another one analyzed). I’m starting this series with Disappointment.
Disappointment is defined by the Cambridge English dictionary as:
The unhappiness or discouragement when your hopes or expectations are not met or realized or something or someone is not as good as you hoped or expected.
Humans spend their lives coping with disappointment. We find that the “dream” job is not as fulfilling as you would have hoped, a vacation was kind of fun but you spent too much money and didn’t have enough time and now you have to get back to “reality” to save up for the next one, that movie or TV show or concert was not worth your time or the money. We are disappointed in how other people behave - your friend or a family member violates your trust, your employee slacks off instead of doing their work, a spouse says or does something that leads to profound discouragement. Institutions are inevitably disappointing, because they are run by humans who get caught up in the latest fads or they underperform on a regular basis. Putting your trust in sports teams, entertainment providers, celebrities, and politicians and the media inevitably meets with disappointment. Churches and church leaders can also be quite disappointing, when they exchange their firm Biblical foundations for the latest social fads.
Disappointment leads to the current mental states of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and YOLO (You Only Live Once) that infest our populace. Everyone is trying to get the next best experience and they want it right now and they create bucket lists, because the last experience was “ok” but I’m sure the next one will be better and not be disappointing. You can see this in discussion boards about every topic under the sun: Next year the Rockies or Broncos or [name the team] will be better, the next cruise we go on will be the best, the next (very expensive) trip to Disney World will be the ultimate family trip, the next gourmet restaurant will be the top, the next house will be the best, the next fancy car will be the most satisfactory. FOMO also drives people to try experiences that may not be suitable for them, like hiking 500 miles on a Camino pilgrimage in Europe, climbing a more difficult 14’er, or traveling to remote islands to do that “special” deep reef dive. We set up these unreasonable expectations and are (naturally) disappointed when the Camino hike ends on the first day because of serious physical pain. By living this way, normal human relationships are also delayed or deferred (I should know - we delayed a decision about having children until it was too late because we wanted our experiences). You can enjoy this life and the abundance of interesting things to do and people to meet, but setting unrealistic expectations is the way of disappointment.
Think back to the Gospels: Can you imagine the disappointment that those disciples and followers of Jesus faced after the crucifixion? In addition to other negative emotions, they were most likely quite disappointed that they had wasted three years (many of them away from families and businesses) following this charismatic leader who dies an ignominious death. But this event transformed in a very short time to the most glorious eternal fulfillment that is all everyone needs. We need never be disappointed in our Lord and our salvation. Here are a few verses to help keep your focus on the long game and drop those disappointments that are temporary irritants.
“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
“It is better to take refuge in the Lord Than to trust in man.”
“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.”
“For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.””
“To You they cried out and were delivered; In You they trusted and were not disappointed.”