Dashed Hopes

Have you ever had your hopes dashed? I had an adventurous aunt who took various nieces and nephews on jaunts around the country. She even bought her own island off the coast of Canso, Nova Scotia. When I was a young teen, she made a passing comment about taking me to her Canadian island one day. My excitement soared! I studied maps, read about Nova Scotia and made the trip many times over in my mind. Every summer for several years, I hoped in vain for a call from Aunt Edna, but alas, the expedition never materialized.

In the present pandemic, hopes are being dashed on a gargantuan scale. Elite athletes who trained for years to peak during the Olympics have had their hopes deferred, if not completely destroyed. College graduates are facing an abysmal job market with mountains of debt weighing on them. Brides who spent years planning their weddings have seen their magical days reduced to a groom, a bouquet, an officiant and a couple of witnesses. Headlines by the thousands read: High Hopes Crash and Burn.

Two observations:

1) Dashed hopes in this world are unavoidable. No matter how solid the investment, the business model or the friendship, people and plans will fail us. And it is going to hurt. How do we handle the disappointment when the dream dies? Adjust your expectations.

The athlete who envisioned Olympic glory may need to redefine success and set new goals. The graduate may need to take a job out of their field to pay the bills. The bride may have to refocus on what really matters – not the wedding day frills but the lifetime relationship that follows.

Be resilient. Disappointment is part of our life stories; it shapes us and makes us better if we let it. The road is steep, rocky and occasionally impassible for everyone. Success comes not to the most talented but to those who persevere.

2) Heavenly hopes will never be dashed. Jesus counsels: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:20). Jesus exposes the futility of basing one’s identity and success on a broken, unstable foundation and urges us to invest in that which cannot be ruined or taken away.

Raise your expectations. So many worldly attractions are devoid of real and lasting satisfaction. We must train our minds to see the value of eternal endeavors: “Seek those things which are above, where Christ is. ... Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2).

Be determined. The human mind doggedly set on a worthy goal is tenacious: “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philip. 3:13-14).

However, heaven will not be achieved by sheer determination. Rather, “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure ... being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philip. 2:13; 1:6). God is trustworthy and on our side. He will heal us and help us.

It hurts when our earthly hopes are dashed, but “let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9).