Voices: Coping with disappointment

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Have you ever been lied to or betrayed?

After Jussie Smollett—the star of the show “Empire”—reported to the Chicago police that two men wearing ski masks, yelling homophobic and racist slurs attacked him in the middle of the night and also threw a noose around his neck, pouring bleach on him, the nation mourned to learn of this sick and despicable hate crime.

Jussie Smollett was considered a hero for speaking out about his experience.

Weeks later, the nation mourns again, this time, however, for being misled or possibly lied to by Mr. Smollett.

After further investigation, the Chicago police arrested the actor on a charge of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report claiming attack. Despite charges being dropped, prosecutors continue to argue that the story was fabricated with the intent to gain Smollett more publicity, recognition and a higher salary.

Though many fans, celebrities and politicians initially expressed support of Smollett, they now feel embarrassed, lied to and betrayed.

Our response to offenses and hurts like this can bring healing or create more hurt. Often, however, we face disappointments without knowing how to respond or cope.

As Christians await the celebration of the greatest victory in history, I am reminded of Jesus’ disappointment. Although Jesus was 100 percent God, he also was 100 percent human, which enables us to learn from him by how he responded to disappointment and betrayal.

When Jesus was disappointed

Jesus endured the betrayal of a close friend who he cared for, taught and invested in for three years (Luke 22:56-60). When asked if he knew Jesus, rather than passionately acknowledging their relationship, Peter gave a nervous laugh and immediately denied even knowing of Jesus.

After everything they had been through in the past three years—the miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:6-7), walking on water (Matthew 14:28-29), calming the storm (Matthew 8:26-27), the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:30-31) and many more divine experiences—Peter still turned his back on Jesus at the most crucial time.

Perhaps the greatest disappointment in the life of Jesus was being sentenced to die on a cross for carrying out the mission of the Father.

As Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly on Palm Sunday, many shouted, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven” (Luke 19:38)!

However, what a disappointing turn of events when, a week later, those same people yelled for his death: “Crucify him! Crucify him” (Luke 23:21)!

Although he was always aware of his purpose on earth, he also was human. As a human, Jesus paid the price for the crimes of humanity. Our sins have been nailed to the cross, and we bear them no more because Jesus paid the price of our sin with his life. This sacrifice from Jesus was filled with hurt, shame and disappointment.

What may contribute to disappointment

Have you wondered why people disappoint you? There are many factors to consider when answering this question.

One factor in disappointment is expectations. We expect people to model values and standards aligned with their positions in leadership, their years in ministry and even their outward appearance. We should never forget that we all are sinners and have the tendency to sin.

Fear is a factor. Sometimes people behave below the standard of acceptable behavior because of fear—fear of failure, fear of looking weak and even fear of revealing their lack of knowledge. We can see how fear took control of Peter’s life, leading him to betray Jesus.

Greed is another factor. Sometimes people behave below the standard, disappointing others, because of greed. It is amazing to see how love of money, power and publicity makes people act like Judas. They trade Christian values for power, money and fame.

Another factor in disappointment is ignorance. On the cross, Jesus asked the Father for mercy on those who offended him, saying, “They don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

How should we respond to disappointment?

How do you respond when people disappoint you? We can respond rightly by turning to Jesus when we are disappointed.

After the resurrection, Jesus gave special attention to Peter. Peter, who betrayed Jesus, received VIP access to the Risen Savior! Can you believe this? Jesus repaid evil with good.

This must have impacted Peter greatly. Consider his words: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

As noted above, while fighting for his last breath on the cross, Jesus demonstrated compassion to all who beat and insulted him by asking the Father to forgive them.

After the resurrection, when Jesus appeared to the disciples as they hid in the upper room, the first thing he said to them was, “Peace be with you”(John 20:19).

I love Jesus’ words here because of what he didn’t say. He could have barged into the room demanding an explanation for why they fled and left him to die. Instead, Jesus knew they were defeated, demoralized and discouraged, and so he offered them peace and hope. This response also brings healing to ourselves and to others.

What a way to demonstrate God’s love and mercy to those who hurt us profoundly!

The Scottish minister George McDonald wrote, “Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.”

Luis Juárez is a doctoral student of education administration at the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor in Belton and currently serves at Baptist University of the Américas in student affairs, ministry engagement and church relations. He also has been a youth and college pastor for 12 years and is married to Cesia Juárez, an MBA student at Dallas Baptist University.

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