At times this life can be so filled with disappointments and discouragement. We see this world around us is filled with sin, evil, disease, destruction, and despair; yet all of us have this idea in our minds of how good we think our lives should be or will be. It seems like we all set ourselves up for disappointment with our lofty expectations. We are all born sinners into a fallen world. If you have attended church for any length of time, you have likely heard this phrase “fallen” used with reference to the fact that the perfect world that God created became sinful and imperfect. While we can easily look around and see the truth of this in our world, we don’t often stop to think of the deeper implications in our lives. I know that I have been guilty of expecting perfection out of a most imperfect world.
I would like to accuse fairytales and Disney movies for giving us all false expectations for life. I have written before that “happily-ever-after” is for eternity with our Savior, not for this life on earth. Yet, this human condition of desiring a happy ending seems far too universal to be blamed solely on the influence of our culture’s entertainment industry. Scripture tells us that God “has put eternity into man’s heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) This week, I was thinking that maybe that is just the beginning of explaining the longing for something more in life. I was thinking about the record we have in Genesis of God creating the earth and man. Man, and then women also, were placed into a perfect setting. God provided for all of their needs. They had occupation, companionship, peace, rest and, most importantly, communion with their Creator. That was the life that man was created to live before sin came into the picture. I can’t help but believe this must be the root of our longings for that perfect life. We all want different things for our lives, but we all have the same sense of longing for that perfect life man was created for.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
When I look at life from the perspective of what we were created to enjoy, I can see that disappointment with life is really par for the course. That may seem negative, but I think it allows me to reframe my expectations so that I have a better outlook. We can’t expect perfection in a fallen world. Yet we have a God so loving that He has paid the price for our sin. Him redeem our oh-so-imperfect lives.
Meanwhile, we have glimpses of the reality that something better awaits us. Life isn’t just about disappointment. We have a God “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20) He molds us with trials, but he also astonishes us with blessings. The peace, and general lack of stress, surrounding my new living situation is far beyond what I ever dared to expect. It isn’t Eden, but it is a picture of God blessing me in the midst of this often disappointing life. It is another reminder of just how good God is.
Life hasn’t stopped; time marches on, and with it comes new challenges and trials. We shouldn’t expect anything different. I am not saying that we should have a negative outlook. I believe that God wants us to live joyfully. Being happy in life is not about trying to obtain that perfect life. Happiness is found in the understanding that life will be difficult, but that God is on our side and this life is not the end. It is an eternal optimism that can help us to keep going when the darkness of the world threatens to overwhelm us.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
My recent move is just one more example of God’s overwhelming faithfulness in my life. He has always been with me through the ups and downs. I can testify that He strengthens and sustains me. Life may be filled with disappointments, but God is not the author of disappointments, man is. God is the Author of eternity. He redeems and transforms us. Someday, when our transformation is complete, we will no longer have any longings, but only the realization of what perfect life really is. For now, we must cling to Jesus. We must manage our expectations of life so that disappointment never leads us away from God.
Being single and not having a family is a big disappointment that nags at me. But I have learned to use this as a springboard toward God, rather than away from Him. I have also learned that the darkness of the world and the difficulties of life can overwhelm us if we let them. With God on our side we always have hope. I try to face life one day at a time and find joy the blessings that God provides. There are big blessings and little ones: a visit from family, the affection of the family dog, a condo with plentiful space and parking, and living in a free and wealthy country. Our song should be like that of Jeremiah. In the midst of lamenting the sad state of his destroyed city, he wrote:
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.