I am disappointed about a lot of things and the members of my family are too. We are using subpar toilet paper. Haddon doesn’t get to eat at his favorite restaurant. Lydia doesn’t get to see her friends at gymnastics and coop. We all miss seeing our brothers and sisters in Christ as much at church. I just got a message today saying that graduation has been postponed and most of the places that we planned on going on vacation to in May are closed indefinitely.
I know that you are disappointed as well. Many of you are worried that you are not going to get to walk in graduation. You probably miss seeing friends. You probably miss certain things and possibly have the same toilet paper problem I do.
We talked last week about a Christian response to the Coronavirus. Now I want to look at a Christian response to the disappointments that Coronavirus has given us because I don’t want you guys moping around your houses for the next however many weeks this lasts.
Let’s talk about why we are disappointed.
Why Am I Disappointed?
Disappointment happens when you hoped for an outcome that did not come to pass. Or this outcome failed to meet expectations. In essence, these disappointments are “failed hopes”. We hoped things would turn out a certain way and they didn’t. If it didn’t bring the amount of pleasure you thought it would or things just didn’t turn out the way you wanted then you will be disappointed.
Right now you are likely disappointed because places are closed. You have lived your life a certain way for the years you’ve been on Earth and now, all of a sudden, it’s different because some guy ate a bat in China.
You are probably disappointed that you have not gotten to see people as you usually do. You have always been able to be around people, especially this time of year and now that is just not the case.
You might be disappointed because you have been working for years to achieve something and you are not going to get to celebrate it the way that everyone else has or that you had pictured.
The outcome simply did not come to pass.
Another way you could be disappointed is if you got the thing you wanted but it really wasn’t as good as you thought it would be.
An example of this would be that you hoped school would get cancelled and now that it is cancelled you are bored.
We are disappointed by several things right now. We understand that it is for the greater good, but that doesn’t mean that we are not disappointed. It is okay for you to understand that you are doing this to help others and still be disappointed. You are missing some things that you hoped for and the ones we listed above are not bad things.
Let’s quickly look at some people who were disappointed because they were hoping for bad things. And see the wrong way they handled it. Then we will look at Paul.
Good Hope, Bad Handling of Disappointment
The first bad example we will discuss is Cain. Cain and his brother Abel both made sacrifices to God. (Genesis 4:3-4) God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and had “no regard” for Cain’s. (Genesis 4:4-5 ESV) He expected God to have regard for his sacrifice, but that is not what happened. In a mixture of disappointment and jealousy Cain became filled with rage and killed his brother. (Genesis 4:8)
His wanting God to be pleased with his sacrifice is good. We should all want that. But his response to disappointment was to murder his brother. Not good.
Bad Hope and Bad Handling of Disappointment
Another bad example is Jonah. Many sermons are preached on the First three chapters of the Book of Jonah. But here, in Jonah, we see a massive case of disappointment.
Hopefully you remember the story of Jonah. God told him to go to Nineveh and preach to them, but Jonah did not want to go and preach to these sinner enemies of the Jews. But God wanted him to. Jonah ran away from this task, actually he took a boat as far away from Nineveh as he could, but was forced by fishmail to go to Nineveh. So, Jonah preached to the Ninevites. The message was simple. “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4 ESV) The message was basically, “Repent or perish”. Well, the people of Nineveh repented and God did not destroy their city. This is a moment for tremendous rejoicing. But one person did not rejoice.
Jonah was disappointed at the result. He wanted to see Nineveh burn. That’s why he didn’t want to bring them this message. In fact he said,
“That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, o LORD please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:2b-3 ESV)
Jonah was so disappointed that he wanted God to end his life.
This again is a bad example of how to handle disappointment. This story seems crazy, but he hated the people of Nineveh so much that he didn’t want to live in a world where God did not want to smite them.
In this category I will summarize another story of a bad hope and bad handling of disappointment it is the evil King Ahab. King Ahab expressed immense disappointment because he had hoped to purchase Naphath’s Garden. You see, being king meant to him that he could have whatever he wanted. When it turned out that he could not have this garden he became depressed, did not eat, and did not take interest in things he once enjoyed.
This seems silly. He wanted a garden. But the garden represented, at least for him, an unmet expectation. He expected to be able to do and get whatever he wanted. When that didn’t work out, he became depressed.
An Example To Learn From
The good example and person that I want to spend some time with today is Paul. Paul expressed disappointment a few times. For example, he was disappointed when he could not be with the Christians in Rome due to gospel work elsewhere. (Romans 1:11-15) But the place I want to focus in on is 2 Timothy 4:16-18. I think there are two things we can learn from him. We will see there that Paul’s ultimate hope rescued him from disappointment.
Christian, You Are Not Alone (Vv. 16-17)
Most commentators believe that Paul is here awaiting trial and the first trial is what we would call a pretrial. However, some believe that Paul is in court for an actual second time, the first being at the end of the Book of Acts.
Whatever the case may be, Paul expected some support and he did not get it. He hoped his brothers and sisters in Christ that he had labored to deliver and build up in the gospel would be there for him in his time of need. But that was simply not the case.
Do you think he was disappointed?
Of course he was. But Paul says something interesting here. “May it not be charged against them?” (2 Timothy 4:16 ESV) Why can he speak so boldly and confidently here. What happened?
Paul understood what we need to understand. Jesus Christ is always with the Christian. He is never alone. Even in the middle of the sharpest disappointments we have been united to Christ because of his perfect life, death, and resurrection. I am united to Christ and His perfect life is counted as my own. I am united to Christ and His sacrificial death takes away my sin. I am united to Christ and His resurrection has resulted in my being declared right with God. And He has given me His Spirit that is always in me. I am never alone.
And Jesus Christ stood with Paul and strengthened Paul. Paul was so lifted up by Christ that he preached the same gospel that got him in trouble to those in authority. He declared the saving work of Christ to those who had him in chains. And he was “rescued from the lion’s mouth” that is, narrowly escaped death. (2 Timothy 4:17 ESV)
Are you disappointed that things are not working out the way you wanted? Are you lonely? Are you struggling through all of this time apart? Are you struggling with something else and having a hard time expressing what it is that you are disappointed about? What I want you to know is that the same Christ who stood with Paul in the middle of his trial stands with every believer in the middle of theirs.
You are not alone.
Christian, God Will Rescue You (Vv.17b-18)
Paul was rescued from near death, but here he tells the secret of dealing with disappointment.
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom.” (2 Timothy 4:18 ESV)
It’s okay to be disappointed about things that are happening right now. There are some disappointing things happening. But, when the Christian has the proper perspective he sees what Paul saw. Our great hope is being our ultimate rescue when we are brought into the New Heavens and Earth in God’s “heavenly kingdom.”
Paul had already been rescued from death a few times by God’s hand. He knew that God rescued. But he also knew that being brought “safely into his heavenly kingdom” was the big hope he had in his life. (2 Timothy 4:18 ESV)
I hope you see how this worked for Paul. Was he disappointed when he no one showed up to be with him at his trial? Yes. Why did it not drag him into anger, rage, or self-pity? Because, even if the other things in his life were not working out like he hoped Jesus was with him and he knew he would be brought safely to his heavenly home. Everything pales in comparison to that for Paul.
And it should for us as well. Seeing our ultimate hope as our heavenly home rather than here helps us to take on disappointment in this life with the proper perspective.
R. Dwain Minor