Sometimes I feel disappointed.
It really doesn’t take much to cause us to feel disappointed. That’s kind of just life’s default setting. Even for you optimists it takes effort and intentionality to overcome our hard-wired inclination to feel less than impressed with a lot of facets of life.
But why do we feel disappointed so often?
I suppose the clinical reason is because our expectations aren’t met.
Lower your expectations, they say, and your expectations will be more easily met. So, in theory, you’ll be disappointed less often.
Can I say that emotional math has never really sat right with me?
We are created in God’s image, and I don’t think God restrains His desires and dreams and feelings in an effort to self-protect against disappointment. So neither should we.
We were created with the ability to feel deeply, just as the Lord does. And with those feelings come expectations… of ourselves, of other people, and of God.
And that’s okay!
Expectations are perfectly logical and reasonable things to have.
The trouble comes when we misplace our expectations – when we set them on people (including ourselves). It turns out people can’t handle the full weight of other people’s expectations. And when we think they should, we set ourselves up to be disappointed at some point or another.
So if people can’t bear the weight of our undiluted hopes and dreams and passions and feelings, and if dialing our emotions back a bit in an attempt to self-protect isn’t the answer, what is?
What are we to do with our God-given emotions that naturally produce expectations?
In the book of Isaiah the Lord says, “Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed,” (Isaiah 49:23).
When is “then”?
For the original audience of this prophecy, “then” was after the Lord brought back the rebellious Israelites to their homeland, after 70 years of living in exile in Babylon. So, basically, after they realized the gravity of their idolatry and repented, then Israel would know that God is God.
Our “then” is along the same lines. After a period of discipline for committing idolatry in our own 21st century ways, after we’ve come to our senses and repented and the Lord has chosen to forgive us and restore us, then we will know that God is God.
And whether it’s old school Israelites or modern us, when we know God is God, when we choose to put Him where He belongs – on the thrones of our hearts, above all other loves we have – what we’re really doing is hoping in Him. In other words, we’re placing our expectations on Him.
And when all of our emotion-driven desires are placed on God, we will not be disappointed.
This is a promise! And an exciting one, at that. This is emotional math I can get behind.
We don’t have to dial back our passions or build self-protective walls of “_____ isn’t that important to me…” No, we can feel the full effect of our hopes and dreams and have no fear of disappointment if we put all of our hopes in the Lord.
Are you feeling disappointed about something today? Ask yourself two questions:
- What expectation do I have that isn’t being met?
- In whom or on what am I placing that expectation?
Then pray something like this, “Lord, I feel disappointed about ______. I have wrongly put my hope in ______ to fulfill my expectation about this. Forgive me, Father, and help me to put my hope in You about this situation. The Bible says if I hope in You I will not be disappointed. I’m taking You at Your Word and trust You because You are faithful.”