1) Those who take disappointment in & down tend to see themselves as the source of the problem. Perhaps, they reason, their expectations were too high. They mentally relive the situation and assume it won’t get any better. They might lower their expectations to avoid further disappointment, even to the point of losing hope. These people might believe God is disappointed with them for failing him. They feed the downward & inward spiral until they bottom out in full-fledged depression. They read passages like Proverbs 3:1-12, but refuse to get their hopes up. So they always go back to Job and focus there, because that’s how life really is.
For example, if your friends forget your birthday, and if you take your disappointment inward, you might begin to assume that nobody will ever remember your birthday. You don’t want to be a burden to people, so you say nothing about it. You lower your expectations to the point where you’re surprised and uncomfortable if your birthday comes up in conversation. You begin thinking of God as a distant authority figure. He’ll let you into heaven because he has to, but he’s pretty discouraged by what he ended up with when you became a Christian. As God and men continue to disregard you, you get even more discouraged, justifying your hopelessness. You’re trapped in a heartbreaking cycle.
2) Those who take disappointment out & around tend to blame others for causing the problem. They pity themselves and expect others to join the party. They might attack those whom they perceive to be the offenders, by complaining, scolding, or sucking the life out of them until they change. They’re difficult to work with because they always have a critical remark or a better idea. These people might believe God is against them and has failed them. They feed their disapproval until they gain a reputation for anger and aggression.
For example, in season one of Downton Abbey, Downton Village prepares for its annual flower show. The Grantham Cup is supposed to go to the “finest blooms” at the show, but the Dowager Countess of Grantham (played expertly by Dame Maggie Smith) has won the cup as long as can be remembered. The Countess’s flowers are clearly inferior to those of the aging commoner Mr. Molesley, but she has used her title and prestige to pressure the judges for so long that she’s certain to win again. She’s become so skilled at enforcing her expectation of victory that she doesn’t even realize when she’s doing it. Only when she chooses to deny herself and award the trophy to Mr. Molesley, does she handle her own expectations in a non-abusive manner.
We get trapped in these two spirals (in & down, out & around) all the time, and there’s no end in sight. But, God enters our disappointment to break the cycles. He helps us to look up & over our disappointment that we might see him, our loving father.
Tomorrow, I’ll expand on how exactly God enters our disappointment.