Sunday, January 15, 2006

Feeling Disappointed?

Intro.: I want to start with a true story.

The lanky, quiet boy never had much of a chance. He had to work from the age of seven, when his family joined the homeless. His mother died two years after that.

As he grew to adulthood, the young man held a series of small jobs until his twenties, when he was fired as a store clerk. But the idea of operating a store appealed to him. At age twenty-three he took out a loan that would enable him to buy into a small business. But the run of bad luck continued; his partner died three years later. Now the young man’s debt was more than doubled, and it looked as if he’d spend years just repaying it.

He fared no better at relationships. Approaching his thirties, he was still a bachelor. He proposed to one young lady after four years of dating, but she turned him down. It was just another failure; he was used to that.

Twice he ran for Congress, and twice, unsurprisingly, he lost. To put it kindly, his credentials were unimpressive. But at the age of thirty-seven, with more than half his life over, he was finally elected to an office—only to be subsequently voted out! He failed in two separate runs for the Senate. He failed in a vice-presidential try. No one was more conscious of his legacy of failures. “I am now the most miserable man living,” he said. “Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell.”

Some would say he didn’t know when to quit—and most of us are glad he didn’t. For at the age of fifty-one, Abraham Lincoln became perhaps the greatest of all American presidents.i

Disappointment was not limited to Abraham Lincoln. It is a common part of much of our lives.


T.S. Today I begin a series of sermons that will look at our emotions. Disappointment is only one of the seven emotions that we will examine in the next few weeks.

  1. Scripture's Examples of Disappointment

    1. When I feel disappointment, I feel very alone.

    2. Yet Disappointment is not something unique to me
      It is not even unique to the 20th century.

    3. I don't know where we might find the first case of disappointment. But if I were to hazard a guess, I would be willing the very first example of disappointment would not be human. Rather, I would suggest that the first example would be God.

      1. His creation – no pollution, no erosion. The sunsets were unmarred with airplanes, roads did not dot the landscape. And the most remarkable part of his creation was the man and woman He created. Adam and Even had everything they could want.

      2. But they chose to disobey. Oh, Eve tried to blame the serpent and Adam tried to blame Eve. But they disobeyed.

      3. God handled it – there were consequences. But I can't hope thinking that God was disappointed in his creation.

      4. God knows what disappointment feels like.

    4. But disappointment is very human experience.

      1. Can you imagine the pain that Ruth felt when her father-in-law and her husband died. Her mother in-law was traveling back to Israel?

      2. Loss brings disappointment – we'll have more to say about grief in a few week, but I would be totally unfair if we did not connect the two.

    5. And sometimes disappointment is misplaced.

      1. Jonah did not want to follow God's instructions to go to Nineveh.

      2. But after an adventure in a big fish, Jonah goes. And after he delivers God's message,

      3. Nineveh repents - exactly what Jonah is afraid he will happen.

      4. It was what God wanted, not what Jonah wanted. Too often we get ourselves confused – We want what we want, regardless what of what God wants.

      5. Sometimes we get these wonderful insights that stick with us for a long time.

(Ill.) One of those time was when I was in ninth grade biology. We had just done an experiment. We set up three experiments – one with sugar, one with starch, and one with water. After the experiment, we tested the solutions and found that the sugar and the starch had produced exactly the same result. The class turned in our write-ups. And no one got it. The teacher gave us one day to make changes to our write-ups. I agonized about it all day and as I lay in bed that night. And suddenly it came to me – sugar and starch were the same thing – they were both carbohydrates. Now, having figured it out, you might think I am smart. Not so. You see, as a ninth grade young man I wanted to impress that cute girl that in the next row. Rather than just modifying my write-up, I went to school and started to tell casually tell someone next to me that I had figured it out. But I said it loud enough that so that girl would hear. Oh, by the way. That girl never paid attention to me. And I do think I was the only person in class to really figure it out.

    I had another of those insights this past week. It dawned on me that when we too often are not are not honest about our disappointment. We say that we are disappointed with our spouse, or with our co-workers, or our neighbors. What we really are is disappointed with God. Jonah was disappointed with God. You see, I may say, I am disappointed with Sandra, but really, I mean really, what I am saying, why didn't God ... Now God can talk it, probably better than Sandra.

  1. Disappointment in my life

    1. Disappointment is real – for those in scripture, in my life, and in your life.

    2. Let me make some suggestions for handling emotions -

    3. Get the feelings out.

      1. First to God. Seems like the simplistic answer, but prayer is the means that God has for us to communicate with Him. Use. I Thessalonians 5:17 says “Pray continuously.” Not “Pray continuously unless you are disappointed.” Take it first to god in prayer.

      2. Then to others. As the church, we are a family. Find someone in the church that will listen, not someone with answers. As the church, the writer of Hebrews tells us, “ But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.” Let us to that.

    4. Find the balance – is the thing in which you are disappointed, really worth the depth of emotion you are feeling. I in no means want to minimize your feelings. They are very real – but too often we respond to the emotions we feel, rather than the events themselves. A very real example is the very common threat called “Road Rage.” Nothing that happens in traffic is worth taking another's life. This is the extreme – but we each must find the balance. Respond to the event, rather than respond to the feelings.

    5. Finally, respond to the event not the person. There are some people that are truly evil, but not many. Once we begin to respond to the person, we are becoming their judge, jury, and executioner. Regardless of how disappointed we are in a particular person's behavior, we are still called to love them. Paul writes, “Faith, hope, love, but the greatest of these is love.” Even in the midst of life's disappointments, we must demonstrate God's love to a broken world. And in doing that, we are testifying to the presence of God's grace in our lives.

    Conclusion: Let me conclude by saying this – I have no secrets for avoiding disappointment.

    1. The principles this morning can help you get through those times you are disappointed.

    2. I don't spend a lot of time talking about the Pastorfloyd web site, but if you want to review the principles given in today's message, Let me suggest you take time to review them their.


    iJeremiah, D. (2001). Slaying the giants in your life (Page 172). Nashville, Tenn.: W Pub.

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