12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.
This post was very hard to write- it’s been a rough week. I had a great job interview two weeks ago- I was completely qualified for the position, the pay was perfect, the organization focused on one of my passions in life (cooking), and the interview went very well. After two weeks of anxiously carrying my phone everywhere just waiting for it to ring with their number, I realized the organization probably had no intention of ever calling me back. Curious, I called two of my references to see if they had been contacted- they hadn’t. This absolutely crushed me. I can’t tell you how many times in the last year I have faced the same disappointment. Each rejection makes my heart bleed deeply and the tears flow freely. Needless to say, I do not take disappointment well- especially when I try to have so much hope. My situation right now looks pretty bleak to me. I don’t have anyone else interested in my resume, I have mounting bills, and the only job offer I do have is for a sales position in the mall requiring me to work Saturdays and Sundays. To top it all off, my car broke down, and I have a $300 bill that has to be paid on top of the repairs.
This post is definitely both a lesson to myself and to you fellow readers. If you don’t relate to my job search, check out these stories of dashed hopes:
“The Moorestown Quakers finished one goal short of regaining the Tournament of Champions title that eluded them for the first time in over a decade last spring. Ridgewood’s 10-9 win completed the Maroons’ second straight title. It also ended a remarkable season for New Jersey’s most storied girls lacrosse program…. The Quakers (22-4 record) came very close to ending the season with a storybook script. Ridgewood took its first and only lead with 2:44 left in regulation. Moorestown had one more good chance to tie the game for a fifth time but the opportunity evaporated with an errant pass in front of the net. Four different times Moorestown had two-goal leads, the last at 9-7 with 10:31 left. Each time, Ridgewood fought back.” source: http://www.phillyburbs.com/sports/high_school/bct/hopes-dashed/article_69e7fe23-ceeb-502c-9506-252d364dafe1.html?mode=story
“Madeleine McCann disappeared on the evening of Thursday, 3 May 2007. She was on holiday with her parents and twin siblings in the Algarve region of Portugal. The British girl went missing from an apartment, in the central area of the resort of Praia da Luz, a few days before her fourth birthday, and has still not been found. Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, have said that they left the children unsupervised in a ground floor bedroom while they ate at a restaurant about 120 metres (130 yards) away.The initial investigation by the Polícia Judiciária (PJ), the Portuguese criminal investigation police, was based on the assumption that the child had been abducted.After further investigation, the PJ stated that there was a strong hypothesis that she might have died in her room. During the investigation there were a number of unconfirmed sightings of Madeleine in Portugal and elsewhere, and additional scientific evidence was obtained. The investigation involved the co-operation of the British and Portuguese police and demonstrated the differing methodologies employed by each, with regard to such aspects as the amount of information released to the public and the legal status of those involved in the case.” source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disappearance_of_Madeleine_McCann
“The third disappointment occurred when I was informed that I was not qualified to enter the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature of Providence University which shattered my confidence in English, and also let me doubt whether I was capable of studying at the department… I applied for the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature without hesitation because of my enthusiasm for English. Coincidentally, in my class, one of my friends applied for the same department in the same University. Despite that coincidence, I still felt that I had much more opportunities to be accepted by the department because I had enough confidence in my English ability and felt that my English was better than my friend. However, contrary to my thoughts, the result was that I was not qualified to enter the department, yet my friend did it. Depressed by this outcome, I had cried for several days…” Jocelyn Chiang (Chinese student) source: https://sites.google.com/site/enjoymyeportfolio/three-disappointments-in-my-life
As seen by the examples above, dashed hopes come in all shapes and sizes. We will all experience disappointment at some point in our lives- the feeling itself is not wrong. How we handle our disappointments however is the important issue here. My first reaction to disappointment is always to get really upset (I am an emotional female after all). I cry, kick the couch a few times, and if its really bad, I might spend an afternoon in bed, restricting my diet to cups of hot cocoa. I much prefer to resign myself to think the worst from the beginning. I tell myself, if I don’t hope, then I won’t be disappointed because I already assumed the worst. Let’s call this a glass half-empty attitude (Does anyone remember Eeyore?). In the throes of an eating disorder it was easy to manage my feelings. If I experienced any disappointment, I would drive myself to the grocery store and buy tons of delicious junk food. I would then spend the rest of the night throwing up until I had no energy left, causing me to sleep for hours on end. I had no energy to even think about it anymore and that in itself was comforting.
Before I tackle how to properly manage disappointment, let’s look at some examples of mismanaged circumstances from the bible:
Abraham and Sarah: This couple had been promised a child by God after many years of barrenness. Frustrated with waiting for the fulfillment of that promise, they decided to take matters into their own hands by having Abraham sleep with Sarah’s maid Hagar (gross!). She had a son with him named Ishmael- who would later become the patriarch of Islam. Have you seen the news lately? They would never know the magnitude of their mistake! (See Genesis 15-16)
Moses: This great leader overcame personal limitations (stuttering, fear of public speaking, accusation) to lead God’s people out of Egypt only to hit a hug brick wall once they reached the Promised Land. Although the people had witnessed many miracles from God (ummm, the parting of THE RED SEA for example), they refused to enter the land out of fear. Because of their disobedience, God placed them in the desert for forty years and Moses never did get to see his people enter their promised land. (read Exodus-Deuteronomy)
How to Deal- the Proper Way
As much as I hate to admit it, my own ways of dealing with a dashed hope are just as much a prime example of WHAT NOT TO DO as the biblical ones. As seen from these very real stories, Satan often uses disappointment as a launchpad to plant a seed of doubt in our minds. If this doubt is not reigned in, it will lead to unbelief. It’s important that we don’t let our disappointments overcome us. Think of a “hope deferred” as a test permitted by God to see if you will continue to trust, obey, and follow him. (a test I obviously haven’t passed yet either! but I’m working on it!) You see, when our joy rests on our circumstance (ie. if everything is going well in our lives) then we have some trouble coming! In case you haven’t noticed, circumstances are constantly changing in this crazy world of ours. Here is a breakdown of how disappointment leads to unbelief:
Satan has a strategy to invade our spirits and bring us down until we are defeated. The tip of the wedge seems so harmless. It is simply disappointment.
But if we let our disappointment fester, the wedge is driven in a little farther, and we experience discouragement.
Unchecked, discouragement because disillusionment.
Then the wedge invades even more territory as it proceeds to depression.
Ultimately, we end in defeat.
So how to we stop this downward spiral? How do I pick myself up out of my own despair and move on without whining about my own loss? The answer is in once simple word: Thanksgiving.
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD.
I will be joyful in God my Savior (Hab. 3:17-18)
Our questions may never be answered and our circumstances may not improve right away but we serve a God who died a horrific death for us. No matter what happens to us each day, we can be confident in the fact that God is going to fulfill his ultimate promise- eternity in heaven. This is something to be mighty thankful for! I don’t know about you but I like knowing that I am escaping eternal damnation in Hell. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says: Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Do Not Lose Hope
Dear ladies, the last thing I feel right now is thankful or joyful. The only thing I do know is that I need to stop my whining, snap out of my depression and TRUST that my God is going to come through for me. Continuing to trust God is the key to victory in painful situations- he has a purpose for everything. Faith and prayer will move the hand of God (not whining, crying, complaining, or anger- he doesn’t like that very much). If we continue to believe- he promises to move on our behalf! We can have hope.
Romans 8:28 (NLT)
28 And we know that God causes everything to work togetherfor the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Remember that our feelings are emotions- not reality. As women, it’s often difficult to separate the two. I don’t know about you, but I know it’s time to believe with my heart and confess with my mouth the truths I do know- not my feelings.
I am confessing right now: There is a job out there for me, God does have a purpose for my life, and I will have provision. (My plan is to come back to this post as many times as this lesson takes to get through my thick skull!)