Have you been disappointed lately? I was reflecting on some disappointments I’ve experienced and recalled writing about this one when it happened. It was several years ago, but I still remember it vividly. (It involves a long travel delay and our 25th wedding anniversary.)
We’re never too old or too mature to experience unfulfilled hopes and unmet expectations. No matter our age or stage, life continues to deliver disappointments.
That sounds really dreadful (!), but hopefully we can learn some lessons from the story of Elisabeth, wife to Zacharias and mother to John the Baptist, in Luke 1. If disappointments are going to come anyway, hopefully we can grow through them!
I admit to making some assumptions here. Scripture never specifically says that Elisabeth was disappointed. But it would make sense that in the midst of a culture that placed a high value on producing children – especially sons – and continuing the family line, Elisabeth experienced disappointment when she didn’t bear a child.
Children were seen as a blessing from God. Barrenness was seen as a curse or a punishment. At least at some point, I can see Elisabeth feeling like she’d failed at her primary responsibility.
Our disappointment may not be related to having a family…or it may. I’ve been there myself. But regardless of the nature of our disappointment, I hope we can take to heart some of the lessons below.
Suffering disappointment doesn’t mean we’re out of fellowship with God.
“And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” ~Luke 1:6
Elisabeth’s barrenness didn’t come about because she was living in sin. Scripture says she was righteous and blameless. Obviously she wasn’t perfect, but she sought to follow God and obey Him.
This reminds us that some difficulties we experience are just part of life. All are God-allowed – and certain disappointments can be a result of our own foolish decisions. Regardless, God knows and cares about each one.
Humility is often grown in the soil of disappointment.
“And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.” ~Luke 1:7
Years and years went by with no son or daughter for this Godly couple. How difficult it must have been to see their relatives and friends growing families, yet realizing as time went by that that likely wouldn’t be their story.
If everything is going great and all our needs and wants are met, we can be tempted to slide over into self-reliance and pride. A humble spirit comes a lot more easily when we’re in or have been through a situation that we can’t control.
In the midst of disappointment, keep on praying.
“But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.” ~Luke 1:13
We have no idea how many times Zacharias and Elisabeth had prayed for a child over the years. But we do know that in His own time, God chose to answer that prayer. Not only did He answer, but Elisabeth became the mother to the greatest prophet born of women. [Luke 7:28]
Continue to have faith through a season of disappointment.
As far as we know, Elisabeth didn’t get the angel experience that Zacharias did. Likely she found out from Zacharias sharing the story in writing since he was unable to speak after his encounter with the angel. Yet in spite of her receiving the news second hand, we don’t see any indication of a lack of faith. Perhaps seeing what had happened to Zacharias due to his unbelief led her to accept the news right away!
If God fulfills our desire and alleviates the disappointment, recognize His hand and thank Him for it.
“And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.” ~Luke 1:24-25
God chose to give Elisabeth a son and she acknowledged it as a gift from Him. What had been a reproach would be no longer. She rejoiced in God’s notice of her, and gave Him glory for this display of His power.
Whatever your situation, rejoice in the good news of others.
“And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” ~Luke 1:41-45
Elisabeth’s news was uber exciting! She was way past child-bearing years, but she was finally going to have a baby. Then here comes her young cousin Mary with the news that she is going to bear the Messiah, the long-awaited Savior!
What is Elisabeth’s response? She rejoices with her. If there were any feelings of being overshadowed, we don’t see them. She is only full of excitement for what is going to take place in Mary’s life.
It can be easy (at least speaking for myself) to outwardly rejoice in someone else’s good news while wishing on the inside that my own situation was different. But with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can be genuinely happy for the other person as we trust that God is in control and working what is best for us in our own lives.
When disappointments come, may God give us the grace to walk through them in a way that brings honor and glory to Him.