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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Root Of Disappointment

Proverbs 15:22 - Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.

Disappoint is a word that is not used that often in the Scripture.

Psalms 17:13 - Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword:
Job 5:12 - He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise.

The word "disappointed" in our text is translated from a Hebrew word that is used 50 times.  It is translated thusly: break 25, make void 5, defeat 2, disannul 2, disappoint 2, frustrate 2, come to nought 2, break asunder 1, cause to cease 1, clean 1, dissolved 1, divide 1, misc 5.

Most all of these translations of the Hebrew word are concepts we would associate with disappointment.  We experience disappointment when things break, are made void, we experience defeat, something is disannulled, expectations are frustrated, plans come to nought, something is caused to cease, or is dissolved or divided.  Disappointment is a very real part of life.  We experience it early and often in this life.  We experience it slightly and strongly in this life.  We experience it unexpectedly, which is one of the reasons it is disappointment.  What we expect to happen cannot disappoint us nearly as much as what we don’t expect.

Disappointment is ultimately rooted in expectation.  There can be no disappointment in the absence of expectation.  Webster’s defines disappointment as defeat or failure of expectation or hope.  Our lives are subject to so much disappointment because we have so much expectation.  In fact we might say it is a law that, “Our level of disappointment will be in direct proportion to our level of expectation.”

When I started thinking about this I realized how much the average person expects:

He expects to be healthy
Children expect parents to trust them
Children expect brothers and sisters to respect them and their belongings
Children expect to get something for their birthday and Christmas
Children expect to start driving when they are 15
Young adults expect to get married
Young adults expect their spouses to respond in certain ways
Young adults expect to have children
Young adults expect to have what their parents have
Parents expect their children to obey
Parents expect their children not to lie and deceive
Parents expect their children to love each other
Parents expect to raise kids with no hang-ups
We expect to make good money
We expect to drive dependable and comfortable automobiles
We expect to live in nice roomy homes
We expect to eat well
We expect to have cooling in the summer and heating in the winter

And this is just a few off the top of my head.  I think, WOW, with all of our expectations the one thing we do not expect is what we are sure to get, disappointment! 

Could this be why we are discouraged from anticipating in relation to the temporal?

Proverbs 27:1 - Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

Expectation always has reference to what is to come.  We should limit our expectation.  We do not know what a day may bring forth.  It often will not bring what we are expecting and thus disappointment.

Jam. 4:13-16 – Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:  Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.  But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

Thus if we have expectation we are likely to be disappointed.

Luke 12:16-21 – And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:  And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?  And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.  But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?  So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Think about all that this man was expecting!  He was expecting life.  He was expecting health to enjoy his life.  He was expecting no evil to deprive him of his prosperity.  He was expecting to "take it easy". 

The reality is that with every expectation there is the potential for disappointment.  I do not mean to say that we can or should live life without expectations of any kind.  I simply mean to say that where we have expectation we have the potential for disappointment.

The real danger is to embrace an expectation rooted in the temporary.  Our tendency, my tendency, is to have much more expectation in the temporal than in the eternal.  The eternal never disappoints, the temporal is more than likely to do so at some level.  By its very nature if it is temporary it is transient.  It shifts and changes and thus likely to disappoint at some point.

In 2 Cor. 4:16-18 we discover that Paul had a heightened immunity to disappointment.

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;  While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

In verse 16 Paul indicates we faint not because our expectation is not rooted in the outward man.  He expected the outward man to perish and was thus not disappointed when it did.

In verse 17 we see that rather than momentary affliction Paul was focused on eternal glory.  Expecting affliction for the moment he was not disappointed when it came.  Had he been expecting a life of ease and earthly glory he would have been very disappointed.

In verse 18 Paul reminds us that rather than considering temporal things we should consider eternal things.  The temporal is sure to bring disappointment.  The eternal never can.

Again, in 1 John 2:15-17 we are reminded of the foolishness of seeking after the world and the things of this world.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Verses 15 reminds us of our tendency to expect so much from the world by censuring that tendency.  In fact it could not be much clearer, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world."

In verse 16 we have indentified the driving forces behind much of our expectation.  The lust of the flesh.  The lust of the eyes.  The pride of life.

According to verse 17 we lay the foundation for disappointment when our expectation is rooted in the lusts of the world.  That which changes, the temporal, is unpredictable and therefore subject to disappoint.  Nothing in this world can truly be counted on.

Our situation tomorrow could be completely different and there not be a thing we can do about it.  If our situation ends up being different than what we expect we very well could be disappointed about that.

Our relationships could be altered tomorrow and we have no control over it.  If our relationships are altered we could very well end up being disappointed about that.

Proverbs 19:21 - There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

Devices is translated from a word that encompasses the idea of intentions, plan, and/or imagination.  All plans are based upon expectation.  Expectation produces intentions.  There are many of these in a man’s heart.  Lots of devices, expectations.

Nevertheless the counsel of the LORD that shall stand.  Man’s expectations do not change the LORD’S counsels.  Man’s devices will not necessarily stand, and in fact often times do not, thus disappointment.

Proverbs 16:9 - A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

When a man deviseth his way, he naturally embraces a set of expectations.  Which naturally sets the stage for potential disappointment.

But the Lord directeth his steps.  The Lord is sovereign.  The Lord is not obligated to work in a man’s life so as to leave him without disappointment.  The disappointment is not the result of the lord directing the steps but of the man devising his ways.  Again, I am not arguing for the abandonment of devising our way, I am saying we need to make room for the Lord directing our steps.  Failure to do so is to invite certain disappointment.
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