I’m afraid of disappointment. I don’t think that is unique to me in any way, shape, or form, but it is true. I hate the thought of wanting something desperately and then having to face the terrible aftermath of dashed expectations when what I want does not become a reality. This is why hope can be so dangerous and potentially devastating.
I tried to think back, and I have decided that my first memory of encountering “hope deferred” is from when I was three years old. I had wanted a premie cabbage patch doll with everything in me, and then for some occasion (I can’t even remember now) I got one. It was wonderful. I remember being so proud of her and treasuring her above all other toys. The only problem was that my mom, shortly after giving me the doll, heard something crazy about cabbage patch kids becoming demon possessed—I’m not kidding!—and whatever she read advised her to remove all such potential hazards from the home. This meant that just days after receiving what I had most hoped for, the little premie was taken from me and tossed in the garbage. I can still remember the disappointment I felt because of that over 22 years later! As I was thinking about this, it crossed my mind that if I had never received the cabbage patch doll in the first place, I no doubt would have zero recollection of having ever been disappointed. So, what does that mean? I think the closer we get to the realization of what we hope for, the more devastating it is to have it ripped away.
From that initial encounter with disappointment at the tender age of three, I have gone on to experience many other instances of hope going unfulfilled, some serious and some very, very trivial. Most recently, I have traveled the painful road of miscarriage and the loss of my grandfather. In both cases, I prayed fervently and hoped with everything in me for a different outcome, but God’s answer was “No.” While incredibly disappointing, looking back I do not regret for a second hoping for a different outcome in both of these situations. Lord Tennyson said it’s better to have loved and lost than to never loved at all, and I think the same can be said for hope.
Yet, as I sit and write, I am faced with a situation where hope is something that I long to hold on to, but at the same time I am frightened to reach out and take hold of it. The closer we get to Poppy’s birthday, the more I realize how much I do want to get to that day. This hit home yesterday in a fresh way when I heard the news that a couple who has been traveling the Trisomy 18 road along with us lost their little boy at 36 weeks. It’s something that I have known in my head to be a possibility, but in my heart I have held out hope all along that we would make it to her birth. Hearing this news devastated me for them, and it made me remember all over again that I can’t take one single day with Poppy for granted! For some time, one of my prayers is for God to take Poppy home in his perfect timing, not mine, since He alone knows the beautiful plan He has for her life. But yesterday I had to ask myself, if God took her now, would I truly be okay with that?
I have been reading some verses on hope, and as I was going through them, I noticed that almost all are referring to the future certainty those who know Jesus have of spending eternity with Him. Romans 5 says, “hope cannot disappoint.” Psalm 71:5 says, “For you are my hope; O Lord God you are my confidence.” Any “hope” that I have in anything other than Jesus is always going to have the possibility of disappointment, but hope in Jesus is the safest thing in the world because it is something that we await with absolute certainty. I can safely hope in the fact that Jesus is faithful and that He will provide for us and meet our every need. So, I will do this. I will hold on to this hope with all my heart. At the same time, I will continue to hope and pray for specifics. I will pray that I get to hold Poppy alive on this earth. I will pray that she gets to spend some time here with all of those who love her. If God chooses to say “No” then He will get me through like He has in the past. But the possibility of disappointment isn’t going to stop me from asking God for big things. I know He loves me, and because of this I know I can trust my heart with Him. He will not allow me to suffer more disappointment than He can help me to bear.