Disappointment with Jesus

In life, disappointments are many—unexpected health diagnoses, financial failures, relational pain or loneliness. Hopes are dashed. Dreams unfulfilled. Expectations unmet. In the realm of special needs families, disappointments begin with a diagnosis, if not before, and continue to mount. And it’s not just the initial disappointment that’s brutal; it’s the constant reminders, one after another, that it’s not what we wanted or expected.

But what if…what if something different is at play? What if there’s more going on than we realize? What if God is up to far more than we could ask or imagine?

Take for instance what I think appears to be the biggest disappointment in all of history—Jesus.

We don’t like to admit that He’s a disappointment, but it’s true. He was a complete and utter disappointment from the moment He showed up on our planet. From the perspective of those long awaiting the Messiah, He could not have been more unremarkable: He was a nobody! And it wasn’t just the initial disappointment that was brutal; it was the constant reminders one after another that He was not what they wanted or expected.

In his book The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey talks about the kingdom Jesus came to set up: “To the crowds’ dismay, it became clear that Jesus was talking about a strangely different kind of kingdom. The Jews wanted what people have always wanted from a visible kingdom: a chicken in every pot, full employment, a strong army to deter invaders. Jesus announced a kingdom that meant denying yourself, taking up a cross, renouncing wealth, even loving your enemies. As He elaborated, the crowd’s expectations crumbled.”

Jesus was a disappointment to them, and if we are truly being honest with ourselves, at times, He’s a disappointment to us, too. He doesn’t meet our need the way we want. He doesn’t relieve the pain we are feeling. He doesn’t fix the problem we are facing. He doesn’t remove the obstacle in front of us. And on and on it goes.

So why doesn’t He? Why doesn’t He catch us a break? Why on top of all we are going through is there heaped trial upon trial upon trial? Why?

Here’s my answer: I have no idea. No doubt you were expecting something more profound; but seriously, I don’t know. I live with those same concerns and trials myself; and they don’t stop. But here’s what I have learned through many disappointments: God is God; I am not. I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that God, who is limitless in power, knowledge, wisdom, and mercy, and who is orchestrating our lives, is faithful, trustworthy, loving, and kind. He values different things than we value. What He values is far richer than we can ever imagine. In this sin-cursed world, problems abound to ad nauseum. So, while we desire our problems and pain to go away, God knows what we really need. As Yancey says, “Pain redeemed impresses me more than pain removed.”

Good thing God is in the business of redeeming things; and who ever tires of a redemption story? God is perfecting a treasure in each of us so valuable that its worth far exceeds anything we can lay our eyes on. It’s deep. It’s enriching. It’s eternal.

We value mostly what we see. Not Him. He knows a world beyond ours. He knows the depth of what we can experience in Him, and it doesn’t come as we expect.

Take it from the disciple who vacillated from questioning Jesus to embracing Jesus to betraying Jesus to being so convinced of who Jesus is that he was martyred for Jesus. Peter writes:

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” – 1 Peter 1:3-7

In the end Jesus couldn’t be further from a disappointment. He is our Hope! He EXCEEDS our expectations! He is everything!

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is His body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So He is first in everything. For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault.”
– Colossians 1:15-22

Carolyn Meyers

Central Special Ministries Director