It’s hard to outrun feelings of what might have been or what should have been better. I’ve tried. But disappointment throws stones a mile a minute. If I’m hit by unmet expectations or unwelcome disruptions, the effect can be dizzying. It can distort how I see myself, others and the life God intends.
I’ve yet to discover a quick “disappointment recovery plan.” For me it is usually a process. But I’ve learned from a woman who faced let downs and a lot more — almost at the cost of her own life.
You can find her in John 8*.
Caught in adultery and brought before Christ, she could have been disappointed about many things; her sinful choice, being caught, the absence of her would-be lover or the harshness of the crowd.
Her story picks up right before the crowd picks up rocks to stone her for her deed. Who could blame them? They were only doing what was required by Old Testament law.(verse 5)
But they also saw this as an opportunity to trap Jesus. How would He respond to the law’s requirement?
Christ “stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.” (verse 6) As soon as His finger touched the ground, the details of the story grew silent.
The bible doesn’t say what He wrote. Did He write the sins of the woman’s accusers or just the names of any other adulterers in the crowd?
I like to think He wrote her pardon.
The accusers continued to demand an answer from Jesus. He said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (verse 7) This was not the answer they were hoping for.
When what we’re hoping for goes at a slower pace, goes in a different direction or goes to someone else, heartbreak can happen. And yet, sadly (like the woman’s accusers) we can lose sight of our own weaknesses and gain greater focus on the weaknesses of others.
But the lesson continues…
Then Jesus “stooped down again and wrote in the dust.” (verse 8)
I like to think the second time He was rewriting her story.
Beginning with the oldest, the crowd abandoned their self-righteous stance and she was left alone with the Righteous Judge.
Life’s let downs can happen all sorts of ways. But regardless of who or what we hold responsible, the heart can be mended by spending time alone with Jesus.
Whether we spend time to reflect or repent, with Christ we can always receive what we need to move forward.
He said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you? She utters her only recorded words, “No, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (verses 10 and 11)
With Jesus, she saw no more accusers, no more condemnation and eventually, no other Lord.
What or who do we see when things don’t work out as we plan? Disappointment may darken our hopes, but faith in Christ always gives us a brighter future.
Even if we wrestle with what the future will look like, God’s faithfulness doesn’t flinch in the face of our questions. His love doesn’t leave just because we feel alone. No matter how far we’ve fallen into sin, doubt or despair, He still stoops down…to lift us up.
When disappointment starts to hurl rocks our way, here’s some good news: The biggest stone ever moved was at the tomb of the resurrected Christ. Regardless of its physical size, it was huge in eternal significance. As the Risen Lord, He still writes in the dust of our disappointment. As we believe His words, we’re filled with hope for the heart and joy to the soul.
“Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” – Isaiah 49:23
* All scriptural references are from the New Living Translation (NLT) version of the Bible.