“At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me” (2 Timothy 4:16).
HOPE IS SIMPLY ONE OF THE FINEST THINGS IN LIFE. Ultimately, of course, our hope must be in heaven, but between now and the day of our death, there are many other good things to hope for. There is a big difference, however, between hoping for heaven and hoping for anything in this life: despite our best efforts, our earthly hopes may not materialize. God has not guaranteed that we’ll get married, have children, and live as long as we’d like to. We may hope for blessings like these, but the reality is, we may not get some of them. What then should be our attitude when we hope for some good, honorable thing . . . and it just doesn’t happen?
First, we should rise above bitterness and self-pity. When no one stood with Paul at his first defense, he must have been painfully disappointed, but he doesn’t seem to have been bitter about it. Painful feelings don’t have to produce sinful thoughts.
Second, we should accept that God sometimes has a different plan and learn to rejoice in that plan. If we ever seek something good from God and He says no, it is always because He has a better gift in mind. In our disappointment, we can yield our will to His and then, over time, learn to be glad that His way truly was better.
Third, we should not quit hoping for things. It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. When we allow ourselves to long for something deeply and that longing ends up being disappointed, the very worst thing we can do is close up our hearts. That type of play-it-safe conservatism is deadly to the human spirit, and no one is pleased with it but the devil.
In summary, I would suggest what might seem like a strange thing: disappointment is not necessarily an emotion to be avoided. These days, many people assume that painful emotions are inherently evil and should be avoided at all costs. But that is a foolish philosophy, is it not? Vanilla is fine, but it would be a boring world if there were no flavor but vanilla. And we would soon grow tired of pleasantness if that were the only emotion available to us. Things like disappointment not only add variety to our lives; they add richness and texture to our character. Just ask the Man of Sorrows.
“Disappointment is often the salt of life” (Theodore Parker).