We looked before at this topic of disappointment and said we all face various kinds of disappointments. They come in all shapes and sizes. It’s amazing that some people have faced things like incurable diseases, severe afflictions, and yet have known peace and strength in their spirit. I think our greatest enemy is not disease, but despair.
And the Lord says to us, “Don’t despair”. It’s not something we can manufacture ourselves, but is ours as we put our faith in the God revealed by Jesus Christ that helps us through difficult times. Did you know that with his divine help, setbacks can become stepping stones to growth and maturity rather than be stumbling blocks?
But the question often asked is, “How do you handle disappointments when they come?”
I heard about a man who was hopeful of getting a new job. He had been through the application process and was one of the two persons being interviewed. He and his wife were so hopeful that they even enrolled their daughter in a new school and had that all arranged. Then he got the word: a younger man had been chosen. He was hurt and disappointed and very hurt at being overlooked.
There’s a story in the Bible of two men who were extremely disappointed—Luke tells of these two followers of Jesus walking towards Emmaus. They were very sad at what had happened with the death of Jesus; how he had been handed over to be sentenced to death and crucified. They had no idea that the stranger who walked with them was the risen Jesus until later on. While we usually connect this Bible story to Easter, we can also see how this story relates to disappointment.
These two men, and probably many others, had been greatly disappointed. They had believed that Jesus, the miracle-working teacher from Galilee, was the long-awaited Messiah from God. They had believed the kingdom of God had been about to come to their lives like wine from a pierced wineskin. Then Jesus was crucified and his followers ran away. Their whole situation appeared to have changed dramatically. The Saviour was dead, the movement was over. They were dragging their feet toward home, a few miles away from Jerusalem. They must have looked awful. They were tired, disillusioned, dispirited. Their hope had been nailed to a cross.
Jesus appeared and walked beside them. It was near dusk. They didn’t realise who he was. He asked why they were so dejected. They hardly looked at him, intent as they were on the dusty road. “Surely you are the only stranger in Jerusalem who has not heard,” they said. “Jesus was crucified there three days ago. We thought he would be the one to liberate Israel. Now he is dead.”
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Then Jesus took the Scriptures and showed them what they all meant concerning himself, that he was to die and be raised from the dead. Wouldn’t you like to have heard that lesson that evening? It would have to be the greatest Bible lesson of all time! They should have known the Scriptures, but perhaps they had forgotten.
How long since you read the Bible? The verses are rich in truth, experience, revelation and understanding. We sometimes forget how deep they are, and how they speak to our situation today, even centuries after they were written. It’s God’s inspired Word. There is always a verse from the Bible to help in our time of disappointment. It happens time and time again as people are wanting some answers—there they are.
I heard about a young dancer who was hurt in a terrible car accident that put her in the hospital for months. Her leg was in a cast and suspended on weights and pulleys, and she was immobile for weeks and weeks. She was asked how she, a dancer, could stand that kind of immobility for so long. “I would have died,” she said, “except for one thing. Every day, sometimes several times a day, I mentally danced the 23rd Psalm. It is so beautiful! It gave me the patience to wait.”
Then it is important to look around us at the fellowship. That’s what these men from Emmaus did. When Jesus had interpreted the Scriptures to them, they arrived at their house. It was dark and they wanted to be hospitable, so they invited Jesus to join them for the night. Inside, they produced food and shared a meal. As their guest, Jesus was invited to say the prayer of blessing over the bread.
Then they recognised him as he blessed and broke the bread. Maybe they had seen him do it before. Maybe it was something about his countenance. Anyway, they knew him and he suddenly vanished from their midst. Then they reflected on the fellowship they had had with him, and said, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as we walked together on the road? Wasn’t it wonderful? Didn’t we have a great experience with him?”
Disappointments hurt. There is no denying that they do. But these simple actions will take the sting out of them in a hurry:
- Read and look back to the Scriptures.
- Look around to the fellowship—with Christ and each other.
- Look ahead to the resurrection.