“They are distressed, because they had been confident; they arrive there, only to be disappointed.” Job 6:20 NIV
When we get to our destination, and after all those hours travelling, that tearing of hair and yelling at the kids, having spent weeks washing and sorting the right laundry, waiting around in airports, and we find the hotel is infested with cockroaches, we are disappointed by circumstances.
When we put our all into something, maybe our heart into writing a poem, and no-one notices, worse, someone gives us harsh criticism, or we put our best efforts into a friendship and the friend ditches us at the first sign of someone who is better connected, we are disappointed by people.
When our dreams are tied up in frazzled nothing days where there is no time and we can’t get motivated, or the procrastination or our own self-doubts stop us from even thinking about beginning, then we are disappointed in ourselves.
And when our prayers seem to go unanswered and yet more difficulties come, and there is only silence where we were hoping for loving words and affirmation, then we can also find ourselves disappointed in God.
Hopes and dreams are wonderful things, but they are also deeply painful, concealing as they do, great pits of despair and disappointment which we fall into time and time again, the golden boughs above us laid as if purposely criss-crossed above the top of the hole, luring us into expectation and letting us fall flat on our faces. Life really can feel like that a lot of the time.
But the Lord does not give us hopes in order to cause us to fall into despair, and he does not give us dreams in order to have them break our hearts when they arrive in a different form to the one we imagined. Our God is a God of “endurance and encouragement” (Romans 15:5) and though often he works through miracles, we see over and over again in the Scriptures and in our lives, that he works far more frequently through the process of blessings. A growth and a blossoming, with all in its rightful place and season.
If the Lord gives us silence, or a no, then that is in some unfathomable way, what we need right now. It is sometimes, of course, that our own emotional pain is so loud we cannot hear over it, or through it, but where the silence is God’s, it is sent gently and with love. Perhaps it is an opportunity to exercise faith and patience, or an invitation to simply sit and learn to listen in a different way. Maybe it is a direction in itself to see the Lord in other things, to experience him in his creation, through other people, in our own actions and self-love, in liturgy, in any number of different ways rather than in the ways to which we have become accustomed and which are now, not enough on their own. The Lord is always wanting his relationship with us to become deeper, and wider, greater, more and more full, and more centred around his Trinitarian personhood. There are many times in our spiritual lives where a painful epiphany needs to move that forward. At such times, disappointment can be a catalyst, like a stick of dynamite that shifts some rubble and allows us to enter a new place, a new level of intimacy, a new room, perhaps of Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle. We are downcast, disheartened, and so we move deeper into God, into that one necessity, that one being who is love, and who will, at the end of the journey, never ever disappoint us.
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