I think it’s pretty safe to say that all of us have experienced disappointment. Anything from dissatisfaction in a meal, to not getting the job we wanted. Sometimes we’re disappointed in another person or even life in general because it’s not turned out the way we had hoped.
Here’s what I’ve come to believe about the nonfulfillment of our wants and expectations:
Disappointments can either shake our faith or disappointments can meet our faith.
I’m reluctant to take you back to the story of Mary and Martha because it sometimes feels like an overused example in whether or not it’s more important to take care of the matters at hand or focus on Jesus. Read Luke 10:38-42 to draw your own conclusion. However, I find an interesting lesson in this passage of scripture that you might not guess as having something to do with disappointment.
Martha (which by the way, always makes me think of Martha Stewart—am I the only one?) naturally wanted to prepare for the guests who had come to her home. I mean, come on…wouldn’t you be putting out the best place settings and food if Jesus was coming to your house??? I can honestly say that my first thought wouldn’t be to sit at His feet. I would want him to feel welcome and provide him with the very best hospitality. So, I get where Martha is coming from. Yet at the same time, I admire Mary’s ability to focus on what was truly most important.
Here’s another thing I can relate to when it comes to Martha. Doing all the work by myself. Been there, done that. It’s unnerving and seems pretty unfair. Now here’s what I pull from the moment Martha complained to Jesus. She was disappointed in him. Don’t see it? In verse 40 she says, “Don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?”
Clearly, she was expecting Jesus to tell Mary that it was time to get up and help your sister out. Enough sitting around! In Martha’s eyes, he didn’t seem to notice the sweat and effort being put into preparing for the visit of Jesus and his disciples.
Yet, I can’t help but pay careful attention to the way Martha addressed Jesus. Although she was expressing disappointment by asking if he cared, she also demonstrated faith when she called him Lord. The full statement from Martha reads like this:
“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
This is where I see disappointment meeting faith. But it doesn’t always play out that way. Sometimes, our disappointment can shake our faith.
If there is one area in my life where this has been the greatest battle, it’s in the raising of my children. I don’t have bad kids, but I do have kids that have made bad decisions…which has definitely caused disappointment.
Sometimes, these circumstances shook my faith to a point that I almost lost it. Disappointment that the Christian influences surrounding them didn’t produce the results I’d expected. Disappointment that my prayers didn’t seem to make any difference. Ever been there? Maybe not with your kids but in some other area of life. You’ve done your best—all in the name of Jesus—that it doesn’t seem right for things to go wrong. You’ve sought God’s help in prayer, that you wonder if it was all just a big waste of time.
We can’t let disappointment shake our faith. See, we can’t run from it because it’s part of life…yes, even if you are a believer. We don’t get a special pass. It’s unavoidable because we live in a fallen world, filled with fallen people. What we can do is meet those disappointments with our faith. That yes, we might feel let down…but it doesn’t detract from God’s sovereignty. We might get treated unfairly…but God is just. We may not see the light at the end of that long, dark tunnel…but God remains the Light of the World.
When discouragement comes knocking, answer the door and say:
“Hello disappointment. Come meet faith!”