Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Power of Disappointment

(submitted by Kerry Patton)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

It Just Isn’t Fair!!
Is there an adult alive on the entire earth that has never experienced some sort of disappointment?  Truly, in the course of this life, expectations, love, hopes and dreams, and a thousand, thousand other things can go wrong and often bring us heartache, rejection, great sadness and loss. 

I remember one instance from my adolescence…remarkably trivial and utterly silly to even make mention of here; and yet it was so powerful to me that I have to share it with you.  I was maybe ten years old and wandered into the kitchen of our home seeking an afternoon snack.  To my delight, there remained a single pancake…left over from that morning’s breakfast.  My mother suggested that I could turn on the kitchen stove and reheat the pancake for a moment in a skillet…which I did.  While the pancake warmed in the pan, I fetched the syrup and butter and had them at the ready.  This was going to be great!  My expectations were set very high and I was really…and I mean REALLY, looking forward to enjoying that as my snack.

I flipped the now warmed pancake out of the skillet and turned off the stove.  With great attention to detail, I spread a pad of butter over the top of it and then applied a bit of syrup to top it all off!  Very excited, as I turned to get a fork from a nearby drawer, I inadvertently allowed the pancake to slide off my plate and directly onto the floor at my feet!  “OH NO!” I shouted as it hit the floor.  I quickly reached down to pick it up, but it was ruined…now coated with dust, pet hair and other debris from the floor. 

As if it had happened only this morning, I remember how my heart felt in those moments; how it broke with sadness...with disappointment.  My plate hung empty at my side and my head now rested on my arm on the kitchen countertop.  I wept.  I really did!  My father scolded me for crying over such a silly thing and I was embarrassed at what he perceived to be my weakness. I knew it was only a leftover pancake…but my hope for enjoying it was so very high.  My disappointment was genuine and significant…at least for a kid.  Isn’t it something how an experience can stick with you so many years later?

How life has changed in the forty or so years I’ve lived since.  I’ve experienced (and no doubt, so have you) disappointments…some major and so significant that cause my pancake story to seem a most trivial example. 

Failed relationships, personal failures in our occupations or parenting...Perhaps some of our disappointments experienced are due to the behavior or actions of others around us.  The truth is, what it is that brought about our disappointment is not as significant as it is how we experienced that disappointment, and how we faced it, and dealt with it.

Keith Green wrote in a song lyric many years ago about a major disappointment that happened in his life.  He was well on his way to musical super-stardom when for no appreciable reason; the music company abandoned him and went with another adolescent singer who was at that time a veritable unknown.  That singer’s name was Donnie Osmond.  Looking back, Keith wrote:

Like a foolish dreamer trying to build a highway to the sky
All my hopes would come tumbling down and I never knew just why
Until today, when you pulled away the clouds
That hung like curtains on my eyes
Well I've been blind all these wasted years
And I thought I was so wise
But then you took me by surprise

Will you and I spend years floundering around in the emotions and circumstances of disappointment?  Keith Green called those years “wasted” and considered himself blinded by the clouds of the emotional clouds that had hung over him.

Only today at noon as I had lunch with my mother and father did Mother repeat one of her most favorite and trusted scriptures: “Remember,” she said, “…We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28” What had happened today?  This morning at about 7:30, her lifelong dearest friend Jan had passed away following a fight with Leukemia. Along with that, the husband of one of my nieces was released from a very important job opportunity he had trained very hard for.  They just let him go.  It all seems very unfair…at least when you are struggling in the midst of the fray.  AND YET…we hold fast to the truth that our Lord God is still walking beside us.  He STILL has plans for us that are GOOD!  He has never broken a promise.  Not one.

It is not uncommon for persons to fall under the weight of disappointment.  Life is often very hard, and frequently unjust.  But this world is not our home.  This is the place of making ready!  So we get back up, and we reach for the hand of our gracious heavenly Father. 

Philippians 4:6-7 advise us: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Further, “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” says Psalm 55:22


Father, is my heart not cast down?  And yet you lift my head in times of sorrow and loss.  I rely upon your vision and help in such difficult times as these.  Soothe the hurt of disappointment in our hearts, and help us to walk again. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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