Author Max Lucado reminds us in his book, Traveling Light, that the prefix, “dis”, D-I-S, changes everything. “With dis, obey becomes disobey. Respect is changed to disrespect. Regard is suddenly disregard. What was an ability becomes a disability. Engage is now disengage, and grace is transformed into disgrace. All because of dis.
We would be hard pressed find a more potent trio of letters. And we’d be hard pressed to find a better example of their power than in the word appointment.
Most of us like appointments. Even the organizationally inept like appointments. Appointments create a sense of predictability in an unpredictable world. Deep down we know we control the future as much as a caboose controls the train, yet our calendars and to-do lists give us the illusion that we do.”
Disappointments reminds us that we don’t. A disappointment is a missed appointment. What we hoped would happen, didn’t. We wanted health; we got disease. We wanted retirement; we got reassignment. Divorce instead of family. Dismissal instead of promotion. Now what?
What do we do with our disappointments? And that’s not all we’ve been dealing with emotionally, these days, is it? We’ve also grappled with disorientation, disenchantment, discomfort, and discouragement!!
We spent five weeks going through a series at LowCountry Community Church entitled “Take Heart” and we are going to unpack it over the next five weeks here on the blog. We’re going to turn to God’s inerrant, beautiful Word, and we’re going to find HOPE amidst disappointment, disorientation, disenchantment, discomfort, and discouragement.
Our dictionaries tell that Disappointment is the failure to meet expectations; that it’s frustrated hope. What does the Bible say? Let’s go to the 42nd psalm.
Here we find the writer of this psalm dealing with overbearing circumstances. Verse 3 says that his enemies “…say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” And verse 10 says the same thing, only it describes the effect as a deadly wound: “As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’” (Ps. 42:10, NASB)
“Where is your God?” Have you been asked that question during this pandemic? Have you asked it yourself?
The internal, emotional condition of the psalmist is depressed, downcast, and disappointed. In verses 5 and 11, he describes himself as in “despair” and “disturbed.” In verse 3 he says, “My tears have been my food day and night.” In verse 7 he says that he feels as if he is drowning. “All your breakers and your waves have rolled over me.”
And yet, in all of this, he is fighting for hope. Verse 5: “Why are you in despair, O my soul, and why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, for the help of His presence.” He is not surrendering to the emotions of despair, discouragement, or disappointment. He is fighting back.
The last words of the psalm relate: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 42:11, NASB)
Does this psalm end on a happy note? Well, frankly, like almost everything else in this life, it’s mixed. His faith really is amazing, and his fight is valiant. But he is not where he wants to be in hope and peace and praise.
Let’s extrapolate a few lessons from our Old Testament friend as he responds to the disappointment that has come with the taunts of his enemies. The first lesson is this:
It’s okay to ask God, “Why?”
In verse 9 he says, “I will say to God, my rock: ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?’” The word forgotten is an overstatement. And he knows it is. After all, he just basically said in the previous verse that “God is with me day and night.”
What he means is that, it looks like God has forgotten him; it feels like God might have forgotten him. It feels as if God has forgotten him. But if God hasn’t forgotten him, why aren’t these enemies driven back and consumed?
We may not always ask the question with theological or linguistic precision, but in the midst of that query, let us never for one second doubt that God has NOT forgotten us, that He remembers us, that He is an ever-present help in times of trouble, that He is a rock to stand on, that He is a safe shelter in the time of storm. It’s okay to ask God, “Why?” However…
It’s better to affirm the sovereign love of God over us.
In the midst of his disappointment, he affirms God’s sovereign love for him. Verse 8 again: “The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night. A prayer to the God of my life.”
Even though it may look like God has forgotten him, he never stops believing in the absolute sovereignty of God over all his adversity. At the end of verse 7, he says, All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
In other words, all the crashing, tumultuous, oppressing, discouraging, and disappointing circumstances are the waves of God. We must never lose this grip on the great truths about God. They are the ballast in our little boat of faith. They keep us from capsizing in the mayhem of our emotions.
Sing your fool head off!
That’s what he does. It’s right here in the latter part of verse eight: “… His song will be with me in the night. A prayer to the God of my life.” This is not a song of euphoric hope. He doesn’t feel jubilant optimism. He is seeking euphoric hope; seeking jubilant optimism. This is a prayer and pleading song — a song “to the God of my life.” Again, he is acknowledging the sovereign hand of God over his life.
Preach to a congregation of one – yourself.
The psalmist preaches to his own soul. Verse 5: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.”
How crucial this is in the fight of faith! We must learn to preach the truth to ourselves. On this side of the cross, we know the greatest ground for our hope: Jesus Christ crucified for our sins and triumphant over death. So the main thing you must learn, in this context of disappointment, is this: preach the gospel to yourself.
 Max Lucado, Traveling Light. W Publishing Group, 2001. pp. 125-6.
You can view the full sermon on Disappointment here.