When Disappointment Derails Our Hopes

Unrealized hopes usher in disappointments. But disappointments do not derail the abundant life Jesus gives.

When Disappointment Derails Our Hopes

October 1, 2020

God has a funny way of reminding us of the truths we teach.

Immediately after I published my last blog post on anchored hopes, something I hoped for did not materialize. God knew I needed that lesson to process the coming disappointment. 

Not every specific hope we have ties directly to a promise from God. This is why we sometimes feel “cautiously hopeful”. We recognize disappointment as an ever-present possibility. 

While I believe God works all things together for our good as promised in Romans 8:28, two other promises in the Bible have caused me considerable angst. 

We find the first of these nestled in a teaching from Jesus:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 NIV)

In this passage, Jesus describes Himself as our Good Shepherd. Not only does He lay down His life for the sheep (us), He promises a full life. 

The word full comes from the Greek word, perissos, which means abundant. Jesus promises us a life of continuous abundance-more than we need, or anticipate. In other words, His life for us will exceed our own expectations.

Sounds great, right? But years ago my struggle grew out of this question: What if Jesus defines an abundant life differently than I do?

In very real terms, we have expectations of how we want life to work out. From the moment I became a Christian, I longed for a godly marriage and family. But my hope for a husband went unrealized for eleven years. 

Since I am now married, I could easily gloss over the pain of the past. But eleven years is a very long time to wait for something. Especially as I watched my close friends fall in love, get married and begin families. God seemed so busy filling everyone else’s lives with abundance, I wondered if He had anything left for me. Or maybe He had forgotten me. 

As I left my twenties and entered my thirties, the deferred hope of marriage and motherhood began to wound and weaken my heart, as described in Proverbs 13:12

I found myself at a crossroad. I had to choose what to believe. Jesus promised me an abundant life. Could I believe this, even if I never married or became a mother?

Because I grew up in an unbelieving home, faith in God, the Bible or spiritual truths did not evolve naturally. For me, faith always begins with a decision to believe, followed by a resolve to act on that belief. 

So, I decided to believe my life with Jesus would exceed my expectations, even if my longings went unfulfilled. I didn’t understand how Jesus would redeem His promise, but I chose to believe He would. In the meantime, I clung to this passage:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:32-34 NIV)

Each day, I resolved to live my best life for Jesus. I knew for the next twenty-four hours, I could choose to be happy as I followed Him. Eventually, I believed my life could be filled with abundance, even if it didn’t turn out the way I planned.

After a long wait, I experienced the joy of a longing fulfilled as I became both a wife and a mother.  However, many of my other hopes remain unfulfilled. I now know disappointments don’t derail the abundant life Jesus gives. My struggle with the second promise, which I will address in next week’s post, helps me understand how this is possible.

Until then, I pray wherever the Lord leads us, we can choose to believe the abundant life He offers will exceed all of our expectations.

When Disappointment Derails Our Hopes

October 1, 2020

Unrealized hopes usher in disappointments. But disappointments do not derail the abundant life Jesus gives.

God has a funny way of reminding us of the truths we teach.

Immediately after I published my last blog post on anchored hopes, something I hoped for did not materialize. God knew I needed that lesson to process the coming disappointment. 

Not every specific hope we have ties directly to a promise from God. This is why we sometimes feel “cautiously hopeful”. We recognize disappointment as an ever-present possibility. 

While I believe God works all things together for our good as promised in Romans 8:28, two other promises in the Bible have caused me considerable angst. 

We find the first of these nestled in a teaching from Jesus:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 NIV)

In this passage, Jesus describes Himself as our Good Shepherd. Not only does He lay down His life for the sheep (us), He promises a full life. 

The word full comes from the Greek word, perissos, which means abundant. Jesus promises us a life of continuous abundance-more than we need, or anticipate. In other words, His life for us will exceed our own expectations.

Sounds great, right? But years ago my struggle grew out of this question: What if Jesus defines an abundant life differently than I do?

In very real terms, we have expectations of how we want life to work out. From the moment I became a Christian, I longed for a godly marriage and family. But my hope for a husband went unrealized for eleven years. 

Since I am now married, I could easily gloss over the pain of the past. But eleven years is a very long time to wait for something. Especially as I watched my close friends fall in love, get married and begin families. God seemed so busy filling everyone else’s lives with abundance, I wondered if He had anything left for me. Or maybe He had forgotten me. 

As I left my twenties and entered my thirties, the deferred hope of marriage and motherhood began to wound and weaken my heart, as described in Proverbs 13:12

I found myself at a crossroad. I had to choose what to believe. Jesus promised me an abundant life. Could I believe this, even if I never married or became a mother?

Because I grew up in an unbelieving home, faith in God, the Bible or spiritual truths did not evolve naturally. For me, faith always begins with a decision to believe, followed by a resolve to act on that belief. 

So, I decided to believe my life with Jesus would exceed my expectations, even if my longings went unfulfilled. I didn’t understand how Jesus would redeem His promise, but I chose to believe He would. In the meantime, I clung to this passage:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:32-34 NIV)

Each day, I resolved to live my best life for Jesus. I knew for the next twenty-four hours, I could choose to be happy as I followed Him. Eventually, I believed my life could be filled with abundance, even if it didn’t turn out the way I planned.

After a long wait, I experienced the joy of a longing fulfilled as I became both a wife and a mother.  However, many of my other hopes remain unfulfilled. I now know disappointments don’t derail the abundant life Jesus gives. My struggle with the second promise, which I will address in next week’s post, helps me understand how this is possible.

Until then, I pray wherever the Lord leads us, we can choose to believe the abundant life He offers will exceed all of our expectations.

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2 Comments

  1. Jody on October 2, 2020 at 2:47 PM

    WOW Shirley!! A word aptly spoken! And is especially beautiful. There are so many disappointments right now but the decision to keep believing the perfect Word of God is the answer. Keep sharing this gift of your words with us!

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on October 2, 2020 at 2:53 PM

      Thank you Jody! Your friendship and encouragement are invaluable to me. Yes, we definitely need to keep believing His Word right now, more than ever! ????

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