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This Changes... Disappointment

Read this message transcript from the "This Changes Everything" message series

Harold Bullock: Welcome, on Mother's Day. If it weren't for mothers, we would not have a congregation. If you are a mom, then we thank you for more work than we can imagine. The way God has wired the human race together, we all come from someone else. Regardless, whether we accomplish great things or a few things, whatever we accomplish goes to someone else's trouble and sacrifice. For some of us, for many of us, memories of our mother are pretty fond. For some of us, they may be actually very painful. But we all still come from someone else's sickness, someone else's putting up with things, someone else's sacrifice.

In the distribution of God, many are mothers. God arranges things though, in the way He gives his gifts and His callings, so that some of us never have children. We need to press on into the future God has for us. God is one who directs. We cry out to Him, we pray. But it's especially important we press on into the future. God does a lot through what mothers do. As a matter of fact, if you are a mom, you have done something that Microsoft in all its magic around the world cannot do. As a matter of fact, even though Amazon is great at delivering, you have delivered what they cannot.

In an age that's dominated by the media, we tend to get preoccupied with the things that are noteworthy, exceptional. Raising kids seems to be pretty ordinary. But actually, it's the stewardship of the future. God places the future into our hands, whether we have kids, or not. Aslan, the character in the Chronicles of Narnia, at one point is asked, "Well, if I had done such-and-such, would things have been different?" His reply, he's a figure of Christ, his reply is, "To know what would have been, no one is told that. But to know what will be, anyone can know that. Because these are the hands that create what will be."

As we move through life, disappointment is one of the things that we tend to run into. Whenever you come to Jesus Christ, everything changes, even some things about disappointment. So I want to talk to you about that today. Disappointment is pretty common. How many times were you disappointed last week? Really? Let's count up. Think back to last Monday. How many times were you disappointed? Tuesday? Let's add those on. Wednesday? How many would you add now to the total? On Thursday? Friday? Of course, Friday's not that disappointing, it's the end of the work week for most of us. But disappointments still happen. How about Saturday? How about this morning? How many times were you disappointed last week?

I asked that question to some young moms the other night. One of them said, "I think about 35." Another one said, "How many meals and naps were there last week?" It's a fact of life. You have been disappointed, my friend. I can almost promise you, you're going to be. It's a fact of life. It happens over and over and over again. It would actually be helpful to have a kind of strategy for dealing with it. If it's going to happen so much, boy, it'd be great if you could handle that thing.

So, we're going to take a look at disappointment and how Christ changes this. Disappointments don't stop because you yield your life to Jesus Christ. But when the God of the universe moves inside, and you begin to know more and more about His intents and purposes, disappointment can change. Disappointment itself is basically getting upset that your expectations aren't met. To disappoint means to fail to meet expectations. "You disappointed me." What I'm saying is, you did not meet my expectations. A disappointment, that state you enter when that happens, disappointment is a sadness or a displeasure at your expectations not being fulfilled. Either your hopes, or what you expected, hasn't come to pass. So, you get sad, or maybe you get upset other ways. It's pretty common for us.

Christ changes everything. He actually changes how we handle disappointment. Expectations is what sets us up for disappointments. It's because we expected something and it didn't happen. We get disappointed. Expectations, they actually set us up for all kinds of struggles, so next week, we're going to talk about expectations. We're going to talk about anticipation, how Christ changes anticipation. I think you'll find a lot of helpful things in it, so I would invite you to join us next week. But expectations set us up for disappointment, for sure. It's because we expect, and it doesn't happen, so we're so disappointed. Disappointment, it's just a fact of life. You have not been disappointed the last time, probably. As it shows up again, we like to know a little more how to deal with it.

There are basically two types of disappointment. One of them is more common and obvious. I call it circumstantial disappointment. The other is not as obvious, but it's real, and it gnaws on us. I'm going to call it existential disappointment. Existential is not a word that we use. Circumstantial, we use that, but existential, we don't use very much. It refers to you as a being, you as a person. There are some things that happen with us.

First of all, circumstantial disappointment. The core of this is, "It's not what I wanted." This experience occurs, and it's not what I wanted. It's not what I expected. It's not what I hoped for. It's not what I wanted. You're getting ready to head downtown, you need to make some errands, you walk out, and the right front tire is flat. "It's not what I wanted." We get disappointed, and a journey starts at that point. Or, you're looking forward to being home in the evening together and you get home and rather than peace and quiet and enjoying each other, everybody's mad. You're really disappointed. You get mad, too. Or, you're just looking forward to a good time. You've been working hard, you got a little bit of a break and in the middle of the break, something happens that just totally destroys it. You're back at it, now. It just flows. It's disappointing. It comes through people.

Circumstantial disappointment comes through people and through situations. It may be a person who said the wrong thing. You weren't expecting that. It maybe a situation. It just didn't happen like you thought, for both of them, it's, "I don't want it. That's not what I want." It comes through people and situations, but it also comes through God's permission. This one's sort of hard on us. Here is Proverbs 16:33, "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is holy of the Lord." This is from the Amplified version, which adds some words to get the flavor of either the language or what's really being said here, in ancient Hebrew or Greek, that the Bible is written in. Even the events that seem accidental are really ordered by Him. They're set in arrangement by Him. Even disappointments? I guess.

What this is saying, "The lot's cast into the lap," is, people have hit a point where they've got to make a decision and so, they're going to ... They don't know quite what to do, so they're going to roll the dice and see what it should be, or flip a coin, heads or tails. Even that is from the Lord. That raises a lot of questions. So every time I make a decision, should I just flip a coin? That's called taking God for granted, and not using the gifts He's given you. I wouldn't recommend it for every decision. Because it will be from Him, that maybe a discipline. There is a time for this, but this is not your routine. But, even that occurs from the Lord. "Well, I mean, I've got a lot of circumstances that have happened in my life, but a lot of them, I don't like." Was that from God?

You can ask all kinds of questions about this. You don't get a whole lot more answers. However, Job 2:10 is a verse that has bearing on this. Job is a really good man, is incredibly prosperous, rich, large family. In a very short time, the family is taken from him. They die in a storm. He loses all his properties. Finally, he ends up with a skin disease. We don't know exactly what it was. But he had boils all over him. He stank. His wife, she's just had enough of this. So she tells him, "Why don't you just curse God and die?" I'm sure that was disappointing. He replies, he keeps his sense, he says, "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" Does God allow trouble into my life? Sure.

Well, that just raises all kinds of questions. I understand. I've had a lot. What you get is this. It is from the Lord, and you have to figure out how to deal with it. This much, you know for sure. Whenever disappointment arises, either this upset that's either sadness or something else, whenever it shows up, you got one of three tracks to deal with it. You decided to go to the grocery store, because there's probably a short line at the checker, now. You get there and discover everybody else thought that, too. Disappointment. One of three tracks to respond to it. Or, your child did something that just so disappointed you, or, your husband or your wife or your friend or your boss. One of three tracks to respond to it.

The first one's the anger track. On this one, the energy goes up and up and up. On the back of your handout is a diagram of this. Yeah, you're welcome to look at it, and follow along. But here's the picture, I'm anticipating, whatever, it didn't happen. I got disappointed. "I don't want that. That's not what I wanted." The next step is to resent it. I'm beginning to resent it, and it just makes me madder and madder and madder. Then I'm angry. If I stay angry, in the middle of my anger, I'm blaming people. "It was so and so. If they hadn't done [inaudible 00:13:01] and [inaudible 00:13:02]." I blame people. Of course, ultimately, I blame God. I'm in the middle of blame and anger, and then there's another level, and that's rebellion. I become rebellious. I'm disappointed, I get angry and resentful of this, and angry. It just seems like [inaudible 00:13:23]. So, I'm going to do what satisfies me, out of my anger and rebellion. I'm going to rebel. I blame others and blame God. The energy jacks, and I hit that point of rebelling. I don't know if you've been there or not. I have.

There's another track, and this is the discouragement track. The energy on this track goes down. "I'm anticipating whatever and it doesn't happen. I'm disappointed. I have a-" In this case, not anger, but sadness. I'm just sad that it didn't happen. I move from sad to discouraged. If the courage has gone out of me, I don't want to move forward. I just sag. In the middle of the discouragement, thoughts like, "Why does it always happen to me?" Then, before long, it seems like since it always happens to me, and I'm so disappointed, and I feel so sad, I'll have to just go ahead and do a few things that will gratify myself, even though they're wrong. Very interesting.

There's a high energy route. It ends up in rebellion. There's a low energy route. It ends up the same place. "I think I'll do what I want to now, since I'm so disappointed." Either my anger, and all the stupid other people around justify me to rebel, or my sadness and discouragement justify me to rebel. It's amazing how you can take two different routes and end up the same place. This is very ordinary for us. "Why does it always happen to me? Why do they always do that?" And, rebellion. I blame others, or I blame fate, and of course, God.

Disappointment is going to happen. It's actually an invitation from God, to you. It's an invite to experience God's help. God's tapping us on the shoulders, the day, He moves forward. He's [inaudible 00:15:52]. And He's doing it through the circumstances we face. He's trying to get our attention to redirect our lives toward Him and what is good. Disappointment is a reminder that God, Himself, is the one who makes things fit together. His kindness is intended to draw our hearts toward him. So, Romans 2:4 says, "Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" Things are going good for you. God is trying to say to you, "Turn toward me. I'm the source of this." I don't know about you, but usually, when things are going good for me, God tends to be the last thing I think of. But it's meant to draw us toward Him, when the good things happen, when what we do want happens.

When hard things come, He's still calling us to redirect our lives toward Him. So, 2 Corinthians 7 says, "Your sorrow led you to repentance. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation." Whenever the hard things come, it saddens us. If we'll take a Godly direction with the sadness, what we do is, we turn around from what we've been doing and go His way. Worldly sorrow brings death. There is a kind of sadness we get into, that just causes life to dry up and sometimes people end their lives. Worldly sorrow causes death. So, you have the high energy anger, you have the low energy sadness and discouragement. But, there's a third way, and God is tapping you on the shoulder to take this way.

The third path, and that's to turn toward God. Disappointment is a reminder of several things to us. The first one is that, reality is just not going to bow to your opinion. One of the things I have proven by my life is that reality will not change to suit me. It's just what it is. Sometimes, you have younger children, you have great hopes for them. They keep on being younger children. What do you expect out of them? Behavior of younger children? That's reality. You have a relative, who's just a very settled, determined, stubborn person. I can almost promise you that the next time you deal with them, they're going to be the same way. "Well, maybe this time they'll change." Well, it could be.

But reality is like it is. Not accepting reality is like trying to take granite and use it as play dough. You take granite, and you start trying to stuff it into those little children's play dough things and it just doesn't go. Why? Because that's not what it is. God reminds you, reality's not going to bow to your opinion. It can prompt you to learn more realistic expectations, disappointment can. Whenever you keep on getting disappointed in an area, you need to review what you think ought to be happening, here, because you need to learn some more about what to expect. Again, next week might be of help to you.

Sometimes, God's wanting to show you His perspective on things by letting you encounter disappointment. He did this with a prophet, Jonah, in the Old Testament. Jonah was a guy. God told him, "Go and preach to this huge city," more than 100,000 people, "And tell them, if they don't repent, I'm going to destroy them." He got mad, because he hated those people. God told him to go help them out. So he ran from God and had the encounter with a fish. You can read about that in the book of Jonah.

Whenever all is finished, he's gone preaching through this big city, and the people actually stop doing the terrible things they were doing. They didn't become a city of God, but they stopped doing what God was talking about. So the Lord did not punish them. Jonah goes out, he's sort of sitting on a hillside. I think he's probably on a hillside, looking at the city, thinking, "I knew he was going to do that." So, he tells God, "I knew you would do this, you'd spare these people." He hates them. So, he's sulking. Have you ever sulked before God? You know, the incredible sulk.

He was sulky and God caused a vine to grow up, quickly, miraculously, and shield his head. He must have been in his 40's, because his head needed a shield. It was a hot day. I always wondered why older men wore ball caps. At 41, I got a massive sunburn on my head, because the hair had thinned out. He gets this shade. He really likes it. He's still mad at God, but he likes the shade. Then the Lord causes a worm to bite into the roots, and the thing dries up and dies. He is sulky again, "There you go again, God." God says to him, "Are you so concerned about this little vine that grew up and then died? It's just a vine. Shouldn't I be concerned about a city that has more than 100,000 people in it, that I care about? Shouldn't I be concerned about them not being destroyed?" Jonah's disappointment becomes a lesson from God on the heart of God.

Whenever the disappointment happens, look. Look for it. It becomes an opportunity to experience God's help. Here's the track. I'm anticipating. I get disappointed. I either go resentful or I go sad or I can trust God and move forward. What I do is, I just trust Him. I tell Him, "Thank You for this. I don't like it," but scripture says, you thank God in all circumstances and for all. "Thank You for this. I don't understand it, but I trust You. Help me with this. I trust You to do me good through it. Thank You. I trust You. Give me help." Ask His help.

Then what you do is, you move forward to do what's right and responsible. If you get into the anger, what you want to do, finally, when you hit the rebellion, is not what's right and responsible. If you get into the sadness, whenever you finally get to the rebellion stage, you won't want to do what's responsible or right. Whenever you get disappointed and you don't do what's responsible or right, the mess just piles up, because you're not dealing with it. So, just tell God, "God, I thank You. I don't understand it. I thank You. I trust You. Will You help me to deal with this?"

Whenever you're looking at the flat tire, the great thing you need is not for the tire to miraculously inflate, so you can go on. The great thing you need is for God to deal with your heart so that you want to do right. At least that's what's true for me, over and over and over again. I hit these points where I just don't want to do right. That's when I need to ask for help. "God, I don't want to do what's right. Would You please help me? Change my want to, please." And God does. I would suggest you make your disappointment a grat-appointment. Little bit of clumsy word, but an opportunity for gratitude and then to see God work. A grat-appointment. "It's not what I wanted, but God, you've allowed it. I will work with what You've brought and I'll trust You. You'll reward me as I do what's right and responsible. I don't know how. But You'll bring good out of this. I do not know how. But I trust You." And then, move forward.

If you just stay there, you'll go toward anger or sadness. Move forward. Do the next thing that ought to be done. Tell God how you feel. Tell Him that right now you trust Him though, and you trust Him to do you good, even through this, and ask His help to do what you need to. God's servants often feel this way. In Isaiah 49, the scripture says, God's servant says this, "I said, I've labored to no purpose. I have spent my strength in vain, and for nothing. Yet," that's the important word, it's the yet, "Yet, what is due me is in the Lord's hands. My reward is with Him." He is the one who will give me good, out of even this very frustrating situation. So, I feel like I've wasted my time, I've wasted my life, but God, Himself, will do me good. I need to do what's right, and move forward. We feel like we worked hard, had no results. We want to throw up our hands and blame people or just sink in the sadness. Stop. What is due you is in the Lord's hands. Ask Him for help. Move forward.

Circumstantial disappointment, it just happens when you least expect it. There's another kind of disappointment, though, that's deeper. It's harder to recognize. Instead of an event that just disappoints, this is the kind of thing that keeps gnawing on you. It tends to get worse. It's existential disappointment. It has something to do with the way I'm made, as a person. If the issue in circumstantial disappointment is, "It's not what I want," the issue here is, "It's not enough. I've had it. I've tried it. It's not enough."

A number of years ago, a song came out that really became iconic. It described the baby boom generation, my generation, extremely well. But it's also fit every generation since. Take a look at it.

For you older ones, when the guitar started cranking, you knew the words. I can't get no satisfaction. In the song, he talks about how when he listens to the radio, and there's a guy there trying to pump him up with positive thoughts and, or, he goes to the T.V., T.V. ads are telling him about the kind of life he ought to have, if you'll just spend a little money. Or, he's trying to find a girl and he's just so disappointed in all his efforts. "I can't get no satisfaction."

The song, though, goes beyond the circumstances. It resonates in us, because we all feel that. There may be all kinds of good things that have happened, but it's just not enough. There's something else. This is existential disappointment. Something deeper just isn't satisfied. Our problem is, we can know about the greater things, we just have trouble grasping them. We feel it, down deep. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that, "God has set eternity in the hearts of men, yet they can't fathom what God has done, from the beginning to the end." God made you and me in such a way that we're aware of the greater, higher things. We want them, but we just can't quite get hold of them. So, we can think of infinity. We can think of the concept, the never ending. Though it's hard to get hold of. We just can't experience it. You might buy one, and drive it around town, but it's just not timelessness.

Infinity. Magnificent concept. Or, moral excellence. We can think of that, really pure motives and hearts and noble things done all the time. We just have a problem doing it, getting hold of it. We're aware of these things, greater things. But we just, we yearn for them deep down, but somehow, we never quite get there. People and circumstances are just not great enough. Ecclesiastes 1:4, a book on the philosophy of life, the writer says, "I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it's all meaningless, chasing after the wind." If you chase after the wind, first of all, it's a hard job. Second, what will you do if you catch it? Sort of pointless, chasing after the wind. Life may be good, but it's just not enough.

This is often the challenge of very successful people. They achieve a lot of things, good things. Success is enjoyable. But none of the successes finally gives meaning. None of them really fill the deeper hole. There's just this thing in there that keeps gnawing on us. It's actually, I think, the drive behind depression, among the rich and famous. Every now and then, there'll be several celebrity suicides. We saw them last year. These are people who have achieved a great deal, and very often, good things. But when you're looking to the things to satisfy this gnawing, they just don't. Even though they're great, they just don't.

When we come to circumstantial disappointment, we hit that disappointing person, or the disappointing circumstance, and then we just, it just bothers us. Very often, we turn to the stuff of this world to try to make us feel better. It's not enough. Even if we felt better, there's still something more. I'd like to play you this song. It came out a number of years ago, also. I Can't Get No Satisfaction might be the anthem of my generation. The next generation, this could be the anthem of. Take a look.

If you like rock, it's there. If you like country and western, it's there. This is who we are as human beings. Guitars and Cadillacs, hillbilly music, that keeps it ... That's the only thing that keeps me hanging on. But life's more than hanging on. I know it. I can try to stay preoccupied, but I still have this thing, hungry, in me. The only enough you're going to find is God. You have, swirling within you, this deep desire to connect with the eternal, and to get hold of greater things.

Take a look at this video. It's brief. This is a climbing vine. You never observe the tendrils whipping around, because it goes so slow. But, they really are moving, and they really are looking for the thing they can latch onto and move higher. This is what we're like. It's hard to, for this existential disappointment, it's hard to see it, because it tends to grow over a very long time. But it's there. The only thing that actually ever meets it, art can't do it, music can't do it, luxury can't do it, the only thing that ever meets that need is connecting with God. Then, life takes on a different direction. Actually, it changes everything.

With circumstantial disappointment, well, let me show you a quote. This is Augustine Hippo, philosopher, theologian, a guy who's life had been dramatically changed by God. This is what he said. "Thou hast made us for Thyself, oh Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds rest in Thee." You can turn circumstantial disappointment into a grat-appointment. Tell God you trust Him, you thank Him, you trust Him. Ask His help. Then, move forward. It's a good strategy.

The existential disappointment, actually is only met whenever you connect with the Lord yourself. We've rebelled against Him, and He, Himself came, in Christ Jesus, to pay the price for our rebellion, by dying for us, and He rose again. When you trust Him, when you actually decide to turn and follow in His direction and trust Him with your life, then He enters you, and stuff starts to change. It actually changes everything, over time.

I'd like to lead us in prayer. As we pray, if you've never yielded your life to Jesus Christ, I'd encourage you to.

Father, thank you for giving us the ability to think of the infinite, of the excellent. We confess to You that, indeed, we do fall far short. Thank You for the ability and the strength to try and to make good things happen. But we recognize You, Father. You're the one who actually gives a connection and makes life come together. For our circumstantial disappointments, tap us on the shoulder, Father, when we're about to go ballistic or we're about to drop into the abyss of sadness. Tap us on the shoulder. Remind us to trust You and ask for Your help. We look to You. You're the one who changes everything. In Jesus Christ's name, we pray. Amen.