Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I’m quite sure that most people know what it feels like to be disappointed. I certainly know that experience, and I guess you have.
Think back on your own life. Disappointments add up as we grow through our teenage years: there’s lost friendships, awards we missed out on, and maybe romances that went sour. As adults our disappointments continue to chip away at us: frustrating jobs, crumbling marriages, unachieved goals, destructive habits, wayward children, lingering illness. It’s almost as if disappointment is part of what it means to be human.
Are you disappointed? I think that most of our disappointments are rooted in ourselves. We look in the wrong places for contentment. Our vision is too small. People can disappoint us. The circumstances of life will most certainly and inevitably disappoint us. We may disappoint ourselves with our own poor decisions or bad actions. Sometimes we may feel disappointed with God, when he doesn’t respond to our prayers as we want or need.
Looking in Someone else’s Windows
A marriage falls apart. Someone you trusted greatly betrays you. The job you want or need doesn’t work out. Your health or the health of a loved one begins to decline. Promises made to you aren’t kept. Disappointment has been described as ‘always looking in someone else’s windows’.
Disappointment always imagines that the other person has it better than you. The other person is happier than you. The next door neighbour has more than you. Disappointment has spawned a whole dictionary full of terms and statements, Keeping up with the Joneses; Taking care of number one, etc.
But I want to also say that disappointments in life—once we’ve worked through them and moved beyond them—have much to teach us about life, about ourselves, and about how we can handle other disappointments that will come our way in life.
Whenever I feel disappointed about something I’m reminded of a little boy named Jamie Scott. Jamie was trying out for a big part in a school play. He was excited about the prospect of taking this lead role and his mother was quite excited as well. But she also feared he may not be selected. After the rehearsal she picked him up from school and there he was with eyes shining with pride and excitement. Mum, guess what. I’ve been chosen to clap and cheer.
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Life Lessons from Disappointments
What a great way to handle disappointment! Jamie had learned a big lesson for a little boy. He turned his disappointment into something positive and helpful. Our problem is that we are too self-absorbed. Look at your life—is that true for you? In times of disappointment for you, haven’t you learned a lot about yourself, about others, about life and about God? Jesus shows us the way out of disappointment. It is so simple. If we follow him, and learn to give up our own agenda for the sake of others, we will forget what it feels like to be disappointed.
Have you learned a lot about yourself? Well, you and I certainly wouldn’t choose the way things turned out in life, if we had a choice, Because some of the disappointments in life are not easy to take. But I’m sure there’s not one of us who isn’t better, wiser, stronger, more mature because those disappointments that came our way.
When things don’t go the way that I think they should it’s very easy to get disappointed. When you plan for something you usually have an idea of how it will go. You might even think about other times you planned and prepared and things worked out pretty well.
Can I encourage you by taking a look at Psalm 88 from the Old Testament. It’s a very human story here about a man who was full of troubles, he even said he was getting close to death and his life was ebbing away. He was so disappointed in life and yet God still loved him, God was his friend, God was his acquaintance.