Imagine if your deepest disappointments could be reframed to look like hope.
“Any more questions?” my doctor asked me at the end of a routine check-up during my pregnancy with my second daughter.
Tears welled up and began running down my cheeks. I knew this wasn’t the response he was expecting. Our lighthearted meeting suddenly turned serious.
My sister had just experienced her third miscarriage and my ideal pregnancy made my sister’s recent loss that much more potent. Even though he didn’t know my sister, he was a doctor and I wanted answers.
“Why?” I asked.
He didn’t give me any medical advice that I can recall. But he did acknowledge the pain of that moment. He spoke in a calm and confident way, like someone who knew what he was doing. Like someone who had met people in the midst of loss before.
This reminded me of the way that Jesus met those two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The resurrected Jesus, unrecognized by them, approaches and asks what they are talking about. The two despondent disciples stop in their tracks. Is this guy the only one who doesn’t know about all the things that have been going on in Jerusalem?
“What things?”, he asks.
Like the doctor’s question at the end of my appointment, this small inquiry unlocks an avalanche of information and emotion.
They begin to tell the story as they understand it. And as they rehearse the events of the past few years and the past few days, they are trying to make sense of it all.
And at the center of their story we see this phrase, “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel…”
Just like these disciples, there are hopes that take up residence at the center of our stories. When we’re trying to make sense of life, there are dreams and desires that are often left unspoken until the right person comes along and asks the right question.
Consider it. When you’re telling your story to yourself or someone else, what hope is at the center of your story?
Jesus already knows what’s in our hearts. He knows us better than we know ourselves. But he wants us to tell him our story. He wants us to admit what’s in our hearts. He wants us to be honest with him about our disappointments and our discouragement. He wants us to be honest about the things we had hoped for.
Jesus wants to meet us in our brokenness in order to heal us.
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 ESV
But how does Jesus take our discouragement and reignite our hope? He does it not by denying the reality of our pain, but by reinterpreting it through the lens of the gospel.
Read what he says to the disciples in Luke 24:25-27.
“And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
Jesus reinterpreted their story in light of what God had been up to from the very beginning. Jesus began opening their eyes to what had been there all the long. Not to mention, He had been there all the long and they didn’t know it! He takes these two wayward disciples to the Scriptures and unpacks a vision of the future that does not disregard their hope (the redemption of Israel) but far exceeds it. He doesn’t deny their reality. He reframes it.
And that’s what Jesus wants to do for us as we interpret our own stories. As you look back over your life, how does Jesus want to open your eyes to what has been there all the long? Even though you may not have recognized him at the time, where did you see Jesus showing up?
What if we let Jesus reinterpret our stories through the lens of the gospel?
When we take the hopes at the heart of our stories and entrust them to Jesus he will far exceed our expectations. We may not be able to see it now, in much the same way the disciples were unable to see Jesus. But we can be sure that he’s up to something far greater than we could ask, think or imagine. He’s up to something that only the Scriptures and the Spirit can enlarge and ignite our hearts enough to live into. And sure enough, we too can look back on our own stories, see the presence of Jesus, and say, “did our hearts not burn within us?” (Luke 24:32)
For more on finding hope through disappointment check out this blog post by Stephen Posey, The Surprising Meaning of Disappointment.