Damn those disappointments


So, God must be a Patriots fan, I guess. There were so many ways he could have assured the Seattle Seahawks of a second Super Bowl win last night. But he didn’t. Maybe he felt sorry about all the snow he dumped on New England recently. Maybe the under-inflated footballs were really his doing and he wanted to compensate Brady and Belichick for having to take the heat. Perhaps it’s a judgment on Washington state’s legalization of physician-assisted suicide, or the high percentage of secular humanists and skeptics in the Pacific Northwest. Maybe Russell Wilson forgot to give him props.

Of course I don’t believe that, as my post from a few weeks ago will testify. But I was pretty bummed about the outcome last night and need to work through the disappointment. Life is full of it, you know. Disappointment, that is. How do we deal with it?

Disappointment comes when life doesn’t turn out the way we would like it to. But a believer in God understands that we don’t necessarily know what’s best for us, much less how circumstances that bring disappointment impact the lives of others. And that because he does know, we can trust that everything will work out for good.

But that sounds so simplistic, and I guess in a way it is. Life can be really hard, and disappointments paralyzing and faith-shaking. They can lead to deep depression and despair. Is this really what God wants for us?

No. No, it isn’t. That’s why he gave us commandments, and revealed himself to the Israelites and through his Word, and through his Son, Jesus Christ. If everyone always obeyed him, there’d be no disappointments. It’s because we don’t that we must suffer the consequences. Not necessarily because of our own disobedience; often it’s because of others’.

Whatever the reason, disappointments come and we have a choice in how we handle them. I handled last night’s Seahawk loss by cleaning up the kitchen so as not to witness Brady’s and Belichick’s elation celebration. And I might have said a little prayer that Deflategate would bite ‘em in the butt. Probably not the most honorable way to deal with it. Certainly not as admirable as Russell Wilson’s humble and genial acceptance of defeat, and of the blame for throwing the game-losing interception, even though the play call was not his.

Eventually I reminded myself that even though the Super Bowl is the most-watched sporting event in the world, it’s still just a game and I have no personal stake in it. And that if somebody’s gonna’ win, somebody’s gotta’ lose.

For bigger, more life-changing disappointments like unexpected illness or injury, children who make poor choices, or relationships or careers that don’t turn out to be all you hoped they would…an eternal perspective makes all the difference. Though without a belief in God and a life everlasting one can still recognize and appreciate the growth in character resulting from dealing well with disappointment, in the end does it really matter if this life is all there is? I imagine the atheist can make a case that it does, but I don’t think it would really satisfy.

The theist, on the other hand, can point to evidence of a good God who has the power, and all of eternity, to make things right…to bring justice for the oppressed and victimized and execute judgment on their oppressors, to reward those who have innocently suffered with eternal blessings far outweighing their trials, and release those who are his from the difficulties and disappointments of this temporary existence so that we may finally enjoy true happiness forever with him.

Someday…for those who have trusted in Christ…there will be an end zone celebration to beat all.

Disappointments be damned.