They stood in front of me in the check out line. The dad was unloading groceries from the cart onto the conveyer belt. I heard his daughter ask him if she could have a candy bar. I would guess that this same scene plays itself out everyday in that same line. The father gently said, “No.” Then I saw the lip of the little girl begin to quiver and a tear form in her eye, “But I really, really want a candy bar!”
“I know you do Kara, but I have something better for you when we get home,” replied her loving dad.
That didn’t seem to relieve her disappointment. She just buried her head in her arms and sobbed quietly. It was so sad looking at her that I wanted to buy her a candy bar to cheer her up. I’m sure that the dad wanted to get that candy bar too. I could see it in his eyes. He could hardly stand seeing the disappointment in the eyes of his precious four- year-old. But I understood what he was doing. He was helping her learn a lesson about both disappointment and trust.
Disappointment is part of life. That is a hard truth for little ones to learn. Sometimes goldfish die and dogs run away. Sometimes ice cream cones flop on the sidewalk. These things happen and they can feel like an unbearable tragedy to the little ones. Children sometimes can’t handle bad news and they want to know who is to blame.
As we grow older, our disappointments can grow bigger too. We lose a game because someone one our team misses an easy pop fly and the winning run scores. A classmate has a birthday and we were not invited. We didn’t get the grade that we thought we deserved.
Disappointment is hard. It’s a feeling that even we as adults struggle with. It comes to us when we don’t get what we want. It shows up when people fail to meet our need or expectation. It comes around when we don’t get what we think we deserve or when the things don’t go our way. We fight it, try to change it, and when all else fails, we often want to find someone else to blame for it.
Have you felt disappointment lately? Hopes and dreams left unfulfilled. The job that was not offered. The love that was not returned. The accolades that were given to another. Doors that have closed. The gift given to someone else. The ability that has been taken away. The invitation that never came. The person who did not follow through. Have you wanted to just bury your head in your arms and sob? I have.
In the midst of the struggles, pain and tragedies of life, we often want to ask the question, “Why? Why would a loving God allow something like this to happen to me?” It’s hard to admit that sometimes we are disappointed in God. Maybe we wonder if He will get mad at us. Truthfully, I think God big enough to handle it.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
Faith does not deny disappointment. Some things really are awful. We put our hope in things that have limitations: our spouse, career, kids, health. But we learn that God sees the bigger picture. He is always faithful. Like the father in the check out line, God might say, “Not now. I have something better for you.” We have a door closed today only to see another opened next week.
This is a lesson that I need to learn. This is something that I need to teach my kids. For us to grow we need to be able to deal with disappointment and though it all remember that God still loves us faithfully and unconditionally.
Hope in the Lord and keep his way…
By Pete Larson
Husband to Lynn
Father of two
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Executive Director of Family Fest Ministries