In Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations and Quotes, there’s a story about Speedy Morris, a basketball coach for LaSalle University. One day Speedy was shaving when suddenly his wife was yelling to tell him he was wanted on the phone by Sports Illustrated. Speedy was instantly thrilled at the thought of being in the spotlight and the prospect of national recognition raced through his mind. In all the excitement, he nicked himself with his razor. He then ran to get the phone while still lathered with shaving cream in a mixture of blood. While running down the hall, he took a wrong step and fell down the stairway. Speedy, finally getting to the phone, bloody and limping, was greeted by a man on the other line who said: “For just seventy-five cents an issue you can get a one-year trial subscription.”
I think we can all agree that Speedy began with very high hopes and was met by crushing disappointment. We may have never been in this specific situation, but I’m certain that at some point in our lives our expectations have also been met with crushing disappointment. I speak from experience. It’s a horrible feeling as we sometimes say, “The wind was taken out of our sail.”
I thought of Joseph of the Old Testament who knew “disappointment” all too well. Just like everyone, Joseph aspired and even “dreamed” of what his life would be like. It seemed that his “dreams of greatness” (cf. Genesis 37) would be the fairy tale ending of living happily ever after, yet this dream was met by crushing disappointments, one after another. Joseph’s own brothers took his coat of many colors, throwing him into a pit and eventually selling him into slavery. Joseph proved true that such circumstance(s) didn’t define him as he served with integrity and he rose from the pit to a prominent position in the house of Potiphar (captain of the guard of Pharaoh). Joseph was successful and excelled greatly as he served Potiphar. All that Potiphar had, Potiphar put under Joseph’s authority (Gen. 39:4). The Lord was with Joseph during all of this. Then Potiphar’s wife tempted Joseph, to which he escaped and fled, refusing to participate in this great wickedness and sin against God. Though Joseph did the RIGHT thing, Potiphar’s wife lied to her husband and Joseph was cast into prison. Joseph went from the pit to a prominent position and now to prison! BUT JOSEPH DID THE RIHGT THING!!! Talk about HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT!
In this valley, Joseph faced disappointment, discouragement, injustice, mistreatment and delay. Yet how Joseph deals with this “waiting room of life” is amazing. Although Joseph didn’t have control over his circumstances, he could control how he responded to the disappointing situation. Joseph “responded” rather than “reacted,” meaning that Joseph considered the long-term effects of his actions and words, not only for himself, but those who were around him.
In Genesis 40, Joseph is locked away with his own predicament to deal with, yet he is remarkably focused on others (chief butler & chief baker) who were locked away with him. Joseph observed the distress of his fellow cellmates and showed genuine concern for them. When we find ourselves dealing with challenging circumstances, we are in a unique position to help others who may be going through a similar experience. Joseph was able to empathize with these two men. In Joseph’s service, especially in showing genuine concern for these two men, it in turn helped Joseph. Note that Joseph didn’t just lie down and dwell on the horrible treatment of his envious brothers and how unfairly he was treated by Potiphar’s wife. Joseph is only found excelling in everything he did!
Joseph doesn’t know that this will be a pivotal point in his life. Joseph is only aware of what is before him: two men who were in dire need of some encouragement. Joseph’s actions may have seemed insignificant, but it would prove to be significant to his future and the future of others.
Joseph interpreted the dreams of the chief butler and the chief baker and they came to fruition. Yet after the chief butler was released and restored to his position, he forgot Joseph for two years. Another crushing disappointment!
I’ve experienced disappointments in my own life, though nowhere near the extent of Joseph obviously. Joseph teaches a valuable reminder. Don’t allow the disappointments and challenges of life to move you into sinful feelings, reacting rather than responding in making rash sinful choices.
Joseph served others humbly, looking out for the interest of others (cf. Phil. 2:3,4), rather than being filled with self-pity, bitterness, depression, etc. In so doing, Joseph glorified God through his own disappointments. Even when life throws one disappointment after another, God is still good! Joseph knew this and knew that God was in control. He continued to trust in God’s plan. God’s timing may not have been exactly what Joseph desired, but as we sing from time to time, “He [God] makes all things beautiful… IN HIS TIME!”
The fact is, disappointment is a beast that we need in our lives, so we can understand the truth that Joseph experienced: it is possible for us to patiently endure, continuously placing our trust in God, who does not disappoint. That’s what the “waiting rooms” did for Joseph and that’s what they will do for us as we endure and let “patience have its perfect work” (James 1:2-4), growing more and more towards the One who does not disappoint, the Lord.
Joseph’s advice to us today? Through our disappointment, do something for God! Good will come from it! (cf. Genesis 50:20)
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ 😊