Disappointment

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Living Stones Series: First Published in All Around Old Bridge Publication – February 2018

By Pastor Lloyd Pulley

Ah, February.

The heart of winter, and for some, the winter doldrums. Holiday bills are in, and we may still be paying for all of those Christmas excesses.

February – the month of Valentine’s Day and seemingly endless commercials for chocolates, flowers, and jewelry.

Not surprisingly, many Americans suffer from the blues this month, especially around Valentine’s Day. One study of over 2,000 adults found that most singles experienced sorrow on or around February 14th. In another study, over 70 percent of singles reported that they stay home from work and school because they are depressed on Valentine’s Day.

What’s happening here? Why so much sorrow during a month committed to love?

Whether married or single, young or old, many of us experience one of the single most distressing emotions this month: a deep sense of disappointment. We expected that the Christmas gifts we gave would make others ridiculously happy, but instead, Christmas is largely forgotten and we are still paying the bills! We also may have resolved to make personal changes in 2018. We planned to eat less and exercise more, but sadly, many of us have already failed to keep these resolutions, only one month into the new year.

Disappointment is defined as “the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.” Disappointment is ubiquitous. In fact, even some of the world’s greatest inventors, statesmen, athletes, and performers have experienced intense disappointment. Thomas Edison failed to create the first light bulb over 1,000 times. Incredibly successful individuals, including P.T. Barnum, Henry Ford, Abraham Lincoln, and the great Walt Disney himself experienced bankruptcy at some point in their illustrious careers. In fact, Michael Jordan himself once said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Reality will never match up fully to our expectations, whether those expectations are placed upon people, things, or circumstances. Author, teacher, and theologian Ravi Zacharias describes such deep disappointment this way, “The loneliest moment in life is when you have just experienced that which you thought would deliver the ultimate, and it has let you down.”

But where does all of this disappointment come from?

Our disappointments began soon after the world itself did. In the book of beginnings, Genesis, we learn that humanity was created to live forever in the idyllic setting of Eden. When the first humans chose to heed the voice of the creature over the voice of the Creator, tragedy struck. Because we sought to fulfill our desires with things in paradise, we lost paradise and everything in it as a result.

Since Darwin published The Origin of the Species, millions have come to eschew this Biblical account, and instead believe that humanity is a product of chance and mutation. Darwinism in turn gave rise to naturalism, the idea that what is seen and experienced is all that actually exists. William Provine, an evolutionary biologist at Cornell, puts the basic tenants of naturalism this way, “There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.”

Our tendency to emphasize and even worship the natural world is clearly nothing new. Writing to the Romans centuries ago, the Apostle Paul described those who hold a naturalist view as ones “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever” (Romans 1:25).

If the natural is all that exists and all that matters, we often put too much weight upon the natural – upon what people do and say, upon our bank accounts, or upon our careers. When we emphasize the natural, and natural things fail us, the result is deep harrowing disappointment.

But wait! Doesn’t the fact that we experience such disappointment prove that we are more than what we experience with our five senses? The very existence of conscience, emotions, and even reason should cause us to pause and wonder, were we not made for something far more than what we see?

The reality is – mankind was made of and for something greater than the natural world. Our own disappointment with stuff proves it. As a pastor for over 35 years, I know this is true. Run as we might, resist as we might, nothing in life – no amount of wealth, position, or relationship – will ever fulfill us because we were made for so much more.

For this reason, hundreds of us at Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, as well as hundreds more online, have become part of a community dedicated to learning more about the supernatural, about the God of the Bible by simply reading our Bibles (ccob.org/biblechallenge2018)! Together we have come to believe that no matter how much this world disappoints us, we were not made, ultimately, for this world.

Perhaps The Chronicles of Narnia author C.S. Lewis said it best, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Aaron Salvato