Hope produces optimism, releases energy and drives the daring to attempt the improbable. Dreams enable us to see the future as the past and ask, “Why not?” Ambition encourages us to pay the price of success, gambling on low odds in the knowledge that perspiration can oil even the most stubborn wheels.Challenges invite a rising to heights where you can actually see the horizon.
Many a new venture starts with hope, dreams, ambition and challenge – whether it is a job, career, business, project or partnership. but, and it’s such a big but, what do we do when hope turns to disappointment; dreams crumble into disillusionment; ambition and challenge arrive at – nothing? What then?
Disappointment has many faces. It can be a permanent expression borne of years and years of not actually doing what you really want to do. It can take the startled look of the person who’s just been rejected however small the rejection may be. It will range from mild sadness to devastating paralysis. Whatever its symptoms, disappointment drains the face of fun and the soul of optimism. And yet it is the lot of the majority. Most people don’t get all that they want out of their jobs. People let them down, things don’t turn out as expected, and perhaps most disappointingly of all, we let ourselves down.
Jesus Christ was no stranger to disappointment. Philip’s slowness, Thomas’s doubts, Peter’s denial, Judas’ betrayal, these were all huge disappointments to him. Add Pilate’s stupidity, Herod’s immorality and the High priest’s corruption and all that remains is the disappointing cry of the crowd – “We want Barabbas”’ Don’t be fooled by the religious setting, this was his Work; this was his team; this was his project. Work was killing him. If you can’t relate to that, look at Joseph’s CV. Betrayal, slavery, prison, abandonment – for what? – just trying to do his job.
Just maybe there’s another way to look at things. Maybe there’s another dream to dream. Perhaps there’s an alternative ambition with an altogether different challenge.
James (himself disappointingly slow to respond to his brother) invites us to consider it pure joy when we face disappointment – because he’s mad? – no, because these trials create people. He argues that these things produce perseverance leading to maturity and completion.
So while we may be busy trying to complete our hopes, dreams and ambitions before we die, God is busy trying to complete us so that we’ll be ready to die. In the end it is not what we achieve but what we become as we attempt to achieve, that will be the hallmark of success. It is not the disappointment that determines our face but how we face the disappointment. Jesus invites us to take up the cross of disappointment. But he doesn’t expect us to carry it forever. Crosses are never the full story.
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
1 Peter 1:6-7
6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.
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