I am a lot older than my kids and at least slightly more mature, but I still find myself disappointed over the same types of things. Not necessarily the lack of cartoons or candy, but over not getting what I want or things going quite as I planned. God, of course, always has a better plan than the one I came up with, but in the moment (and sometimes even the weeks or seasons that follow), it is so hard to remember. Nothing feels worse than being disappointed by someone you love, but it always happens. Spouses drop the ball, friends say things that cut and parents make mistakes. And I think they are part of the package of loving people. People are going to disappoint. And hurt. And possibly the more you love someone the more potential that have to hurt. And we are going to do it right back. We can’t escape our sin nature. It creeps into every relationship we make. As much as it hurts – I think these disappointments are necessary. If a family member or friend could love you perfectly, we might not realize our need for the one who is love.
Christ loved perfectly and completely. Yet, he still managed to disappoint. His family, his friends and an entire nation of people. He was not the kind of savior the Jewish people were expecting. Some are still waiting for him to show up. He rode into town on a colt, not a stallion. He taught with stories not with an army. He spoke of love, service and forgiveness rather than power and retaliation. I can just imagine the disappointment on the disciples’ faces as they watched him hang on the cross. They had seen him perform hundreds of miracles. They were probably thinking things like this, “How could he let this happen?” Why doesn’t he do anything to stop it?” Without the cross the Christian faith is pretty empty. No grace, no forgiveness, no redemption, no empty tomb. Even though it wasn't what people were wanting or expecting it was far more powerful than any savior we could have imagined or hoped for.
Christ experienced his share of disappointment as well. His family didn’t get it. His hometown rejected him. His closest friends couldn’t manage to stay up and pray with him in his hour of need. His friends fought over trivial things and never quite understood what he was trying to say. One of his closest friends denied him, not once but three times. And another betrayed him for just thirty pieces of silver. Despite all of this, he still laid down his life for them. For each of us and every single time we have managed to disappoint our God.
And in good churchy lingo people (especially around Lent and Easter), people are always telling us to approach the cross. To lay down our burdens. To receive forgiveness. To leave it all at the cross. And I could be wrong here, but I'm not sure the bible actually says to lay anything at the cross.
We are told to carry one. (Luke 14:27). To forgive. To follow.
And the act of laying it down is important.
But so is picking it up. Not what we set down, but…
Receiving forgiveness at the cross so that we can grant it.
Leaving our burdens at the cross so that maybe we can help someone else carry theirs for a little while.
Letting go of our disappointment at the cross so that we can love a little bit more like the guy who hung on one.