Again friends and neighbours face crises as homes burn, jobs disappear, false accusations pop up, loved ones make foolish choices, doctors predict dire outcomes, marriage promises evaporate, supervisors exhibit incompetence, and leaders cloak corruption in meaningless words. Sometimes it seems like the trolls and curmudgeons on social media have created an alliance to keep folks living in a place of fear and disappointment.
And the fear of disappointment is perhaps our greatest fear.
What if all this effort is in vain? What if the things that have always defined success for us disappear, or fail to meet our expectations? What if the good job isn’t there to go to in the morning, or the city burns, or our marriage fails, or our kid becomes an addict, or the judge believes the liar?
How do we keep the faith when we want to put up thick walls to protect ourselves from disappointment?
I wonder if the point where people position themselves on the gullibility/cynicism spectrum has to do with how they handle disappointment. I wonder if trolls and curmudgeons are using negativity as a shield against the expectation of disappointment. Romans 5 talks about the hope that does not disappoint. The question is, what is that hope and how does it stand up in the face of the very real possibility of loss or deception?
Times of loss can become times of gain when they cause us to pause, assess, and change our way of thinking.
When our hope is in perishable things – or even perishable people – we will inevitably suffer disappointment. When our hope is in the Eternal One we have a handhold in the future. David, the warrior poet, understood this.
Oh Lord, the God of faithfulness,
you have rescued and redeemed me.
I despise these deceptive illusions,
all this pretense and nonsense;
for I worship only you.
In mercy you have seen my troubles,
and you have cared for me;
even during this crisis in my soul I will be radiant with joy,
filled with praise for your love and mercy.
You have kept me from being conquered by my enemy;
you broke open the way to bring me to freedom,
into a beautiful broad place.
(Psalm 30:5-8 The Passion Translation)
May the radiant joy of freedom in Jesus Christ be your shield today. May your heart settle in a beautiful broad place.