We are all acquainted with it. We all hate it. But some of us feel guilty about it, believing that if we were really good enough Christians, we would skate through life unscathed by disappointment. Some of us even tidy up our hurt by saying “Praise the Lord, anyway!”
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I am NOT saying we shouldn’t give thanks in all things. We should. God’s word tells us we should. In fact, giving thanks in all things is an essential, necessary component for handling life’s disappointments.
But still, disappointment stinks.
You know what I love about the Bible (among other things)? It’s real. God’s word doesn’t fancy up our feelings. It just calls life like it is. You want to know what God’s word has to say about disappointment? Get this-
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).
Pretty down-to-earth assessment, wouldn’t you say?
I don’t know about you, but when something I long for seems within reach, then doesn’t pan out, I feel disappointed. When something I hope for doesn’t take place, I experience that sinking feeling somewhere in my gut that others can’t see, but I know to be as real as any mark on my face or disease in my body. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. It just does.
So what do we do when we our hopes are deferred and our heart is sick?
How do we handle life when…
The medicine we were told would work, doesn’t?
The child we thought was so close to a turn around, isn’t?
The job we were certain was in the bag, wasn’t?
The person we counted on, couldn’t?
The dream we thought would materialize, didn’t?
First, we get real. We acknowledge our disappointment to ourselves, and then to God. He’s the one who inspired the words “hope deferred makes the heart sick” in the first place. He knows. He understands. He cares.
Then we take our sick little hurting heart and place it in the tender hand of God. We examine our hopes and come to terms with the fact that our ultimate hope has to be placed in one who loves us and has a plan for us. Our hope has to be in God.
King David illustrates this process in his intimate prayer recorded in Psalm 42:10-1:
“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.”
In the midst of David’s heartfelt cry to God, he examined his heart, asking himself, “Why am I so downcast? What’s going on inside me that’s disturbing my soul?” David’s heart was sick because his hope had been deferred. So he gave himself a little talking to. “Self, put your hope in God because you will yet praise him”. In other words, David reminded himself not to put his ultimate hope in his hopes, but to put his ultimate hope in the goodness of God.
Disappointment is a fact of life. Deferred hope makes our heart sick. God knows and understands our feelings. But the sovereignty of God can be trusted. When disappointment comes knocking at our door, one truth will carry us through, even when our hearts are hurting and our souls are sick with grief—our hope can’t be in our hopes. Our hope must be in God.
More than a Bible teacher, Donna is a self-described Bible explainer. A colorful storyteller who combines Biblical truth with real-life anecdotes, her messages not only help listeners understand God’s Word, but most important, grasp how to live it out in real life.