How many times have you experienced sadness or displeasure due to unfulfilled hopes and expectations? How did you manage it? Have you heard the words, "You’re a disappointment?” Did you prove them wrong? Why not?
I’m aware of a certain young man who dreamed of becoming a successful doctor in multiple fields (e.g., Theology, Psychology, and Sociology). His parents were poor and his country lacked the needed infrastructure to help him achieve his goals; so, he decided to work hard to sponsor himself. He paid his own way through high school and hoped his good grades would help him get a sponsor, and it did. He was so happy and proud of himself for achieving this and for taking the steps necessary to make his dreams come true. He entered college and began studying the Sciences, focusing on Biology and Chemistry, expecting to get support from a local science research center in hopes that they would hire him so he could achieve his goal. Unfortunately for him, a series of disappointments ensued: he lost his parents, got a woman pregnant, and now had a baby boy who needed financial support and shelter. He was unable to achieve his goal in addition to being a father. Dismayed, the young man abandoned his dream.
We often encounter dashed hopes and unmet expectations. As Christians, we are aware that we need to read our Bible, spend quality time with Jesus, family, and friends, help those in need, attend the Sabbath Worship Service, and be faithful to God. Yet, we are imperfect and don’t always meet the expectations we put on ourselves. We misbehave in school, at church, at home, even in our professional calling. Disappointing right? What do we do now?
My favorite text says in Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." The great thing is that this text reminds us that we are unable to do it all by ourselves. God gives us assurance that He will take care of us, even when we’re displeased with ourselves. It makes me think of the hymn that says, “Be not dismayed whate'er betide, God will take care of you. Beneath his wings of love abide, God will take care of you," (Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal # 99). When we are disappointed in ourselves and our choices, that uncomfortable feeling, that conviction that something has to change, can be a positive motivator that propels us forward in a different direction.
It reminds me of our beginnings as Seventh-day Adventists. Have you heard of “The Great Disappointment?” Our church forefathers were sure Jesus was coming again on October 22, 1844. So sure, that people went all in. Peopled teamed up and spread the good news, they sold their houses, farms, and other possessions to help fund the cause, they were ready to see their Savior. This grave misinterpretation of prophecy led to a wrong conclusion and truly, a great disappointment among the people. Their interpretation was all wrong and because of it, many lost everything and had to start over. Why did God allow such a disappointment? Only He knows. One thing is for sure, human error highlights God's full control of time. Their mistake helps us understand how limited and dependent we are towards God.
Many of us who were called “disappointments” and “useless” are successful in life today by the grace of God. We have proven them wrong, though not us, but Him. If you have not proven them wrong yet, remind yourself that our God is Faithful, doors are still opening, our mistakes can be corrected. "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged," Deuteronomy 31:8. Amen.