Hope is essential for life in a fallen world. Unless we believe something better awaits us in the future, we might sink into utter despair. But optimistic anticipation can also bring disappointment when we look forward to something that doesn’t materialize. So how do we determine where to place our hope—and what our response should be if it isn’t fulfilled?
Hope is secure when it’s aligned with the Lord’s desires, which are revealed in Scripture. However, many of our expectations are based on wishes or feelings. We long for things like job promotions, good health, strong relationships, or quick solutions to our problems, but we have no absolute promise from the Lord that these are part of His will for us.
Disappointment with God can occur whenever our expectations do not coincide with His plan. Even when hope is based on a scriptural promise, the Lord may not fulfill it in the way or the timeframe that we expect.
Contentment lies in being able to distinguish subjective hopes, which originate with us, from our ultimate hope in the Lord, who is sovereign and good. Then, even when an earthly expectation isn’t realized as we wished, we can have joy, remembering that our eternal hope in God is sure.