Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Day of Disappointment

Day of Disapointment is todays news headline about the New Zealand performance at the Aussie games.

Disappointment is etched deep on our culture. The early settlers who came to New Zealand were deeply disappointed. We think New Zealand is a beautiful country, and it is. For settlers, used to the green of England, it was awful. The land was rough, rugged and barren. The work was hard and back breaking, especially for the women. Only their pride stopped them from admitting their mistake and going back. Nevertheless a deep sense of disappointment rested on their spirit.

The disappointment has been handed down through the generations. Many of us have had parents who felt that they did not achieve their full potential and felt disappointed with life. For many Christians, life has not worked out in the way that they hoped and they have transferred this disappointment to God. This disappointment and regret is manifested in our culture in several different ways.

1) Tilting at windmills
New Zealanders try to cover their disappointment by proving themselves in dramatic ways on the world stage. We generally try to do this in aspects of life that are relatively trivial. The best example of this behaviour is our obsession with being world champions at rugby. It does not matter that only 5 countries play the game seriously, or that three of these do not play rugby as their national game. We cover up our disappointment by claiming that we are the best in the world. We carry the same attitude into the Commonwealth Games, where we believe we can punch above our weight.

2)A Critical Spirit
Disappointment is often expressed in intense criticism of any New Zealander who is successful. This is the tall poppy syndrome. Whenever, someone rises to the top, the great Kiwi clobbering machine chops them down to size. The intense criticism of the athletes who fail is an example of this response. In other countries, people celebrate the success of their countrymen.

3) Flogging dead horses
Disappointment combined with pride makes us unwilling to admit our mistakes and change direction. We carry on with dogged determination, even when we are disappointed with our situation or what we have achieved. We will not turn back and seek something better, because we do not want to admit our disappointment. Persistence is an important virtue, but not when we are persisting in second best.

4) Paralysis
Disappointment can also cripple us. Fear of further disappointment can prevent us from taking on new challenges.

5) Self Pity
Disappointment often feeds into self pity. A disappointed person tends to pass the buck for their failures. Rather than taking responsibility for their mistakes, they make excuses and blame others for their troubles.

God can heal disappointment, but the best antidote against it is a solid hope for the future based on the promises and plans of God. The reason that the early settlers were disappointed was that they did not understand God’s purpose for New Zealand. He brought people from Europe to New Zealand, because he wanted them to establish his Kingdom here. The reason that we have still not overcome that disappointment is the same. We have not realised that God wants to establish his Kingdom in New Zealand and export it from here to the rest of the world.

Seeking other goals will result in failure and regret. New Zealand is a good place to build the Kingdom of God. We should seek first the Kingdom of God. Those who seek God’s Kingdom will not be disappointed.

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