Living with disappointment – Part 1

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Disappointment at some point is an inescapable reality. We all deal with it differently and grant it varying levels of permission in our lives. Disappointment is the terrible twin to expectations, invisibly connected, and knitted together in our thoughts. These twins often wreak havoc, fighting within our emotions, our beliefs, and our relationships. They do not respect your level of maturity, your financial status, or your state of health. They relentlessly war within, unseen, and hungry for conquest over your heart and mind.

Living with disappointment – Part 1Weak or wrong expectations can lay the foundation for disappointment to feed off. Solomon expressed this in Proverbs 11:7, when the wicked dies, his hope will perish, and the expectation of wealth perishes too.” The things which the world promises to bring lasting meaning, value, and security, attempt to build a strong set of expectations. However, the ugly reality is this, earthly death proves every one of those worldly expectations to be false, and eternally disappointing and damming.

Found in Genesis 37-50, Joseph serves as a good example of dealing correctly with expectations and disappointment. He was the favoured son of Jacob and hated by his brothers (Gen 37:3-4). His brothers plotted to kill 17-year-old Joseph but ended up selling him as a slave to some travelling merchants. They proceeded to on-sell Joseph to an Egyptian named Potiphar (Gen 37:20-28, 39:1). Despite promotion within Potiphar’s house, Mrs Potiphar betrayed Joseph with false allegations of attempted rape because he would not commit adultery with her.

Consequently, Joseph was wrongly imprisoned (Genesis 39:7-20). “But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison… and whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed.” (Genesis 39:21, 23). Through a series of God orchestrated events, Joseph was “brought out of the pit” of prison (Genesis 41:14) and proceeded to correctly interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. So, Pharaoh (the king of Egypt) said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. 43 And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” (Genesis 41:41-43). Now that’s an impressive promotion, from prisoner to governor.

Following seven years of plenty under Josephs leadership came seven years of famine. Predictably, Joseph’s wicked brothers came in search of food. Well, they found food, plus they were reunited with Joseph, and they experienced unexpected grace. But the pinnacle character in this story is God. The Lord worked through both Josephs terrible circumstances and within Joseph’s heart attitudes and thinking.

At the conclusion of the story, Joseph explained to his brothers how God’s sovereign grace had been at work in all of their lives. Joseph brought his brothers understanding into God’s reality; “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good… So do not fear… thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (Genesis 50:20-21).

Joseph would have felt the pain of enforced slavery, the betrayal of Mr and Mrs Potiphar, the injustice of wrongful imprisonment, yet his hope was in God who governed those events. We do not read of Joseph asking for better conditions or moaning of how unfair life was. As his life unfolded, Joseph aligned his acceptance with his understanding that God was working out a much bigger plan of which he was just one small player. Joseph was not disappointed with God because he never had selfish or unrealistic expectations of God, he simply accepted God’s will without resentment, while living in obedience.

My point is this; remove wrong expectations of God, and you remove the potential for disappointment in God. Next week, we shall consider the negative flip side of expectations and disappointment through the life of Jonah.

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