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I sit nervously in my seat, along with dozens of others. The air is filled with expectancy. “The time has come for the announcement of our semifinalists. In no particular order…” Names begin to be listed off and, as enthusiastic as the applause is, it can’t match the intense clapping of my heart. Another name is called, and before I truly realize what’s really happening, my already tachycardic heartrate skyrockets and I find myself running up to the stage. Because that last name was mine. 

I can’t count how many times I have relived this in my mind. I should actually say: “I can’t count how many times I have imagined this in my mind,” because…it never happened…Never in nine years of competition. No, I didn’t try for it every one of those nine years; yes, I was close a couple of times. And yes, I did realize that there was way more to the National Bible Bee Competition than winning. But all that didn’t stop me from feeling like a failure.

Disappointment can be defined as “sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations”. Hopes and expectations are tricky little things. It is certainly not bad to look forward to and work toward things, but our brains often put these “things” in the wrong order of importance, elevating the exciting above the important and the good above the best. And that was what happened to me. Wanting to do well in a competition was not a bad thing in itself, but I was selling myself short.  

Thankfully, the Lord did not leave me there, and I now look back on those disappointments with thankfulness. There are expectations vastly higher and better than the little ones I thought would satisfy me – and God, through those failures and deferred hopes, was teaching me that. 

A Peak Into the Throne Room of our Hearts 

 When a dream comes crashing to the ground, leaving us devastated, it lets us know something about the state of our heart. As we look down on the shattered pieces of that dream, too often we find ourselves looking at the shattered pieces of an idol – and idol which had been elevated to a place it never belonged. My ambitions had turned into more than an innocent “looking forward to”; I had looked to them for fulfillment and satisfaction, and that was my problem.

An Invitation to Something Better 

It’s painful to see hopes and dreams crash to the ground, whether they were idolized or not. But each time that pang of disappointment threatens to disturb our joy, we have the opportunity to look further. Each hope that does not reach fruition on this earth is directly, Sovereignly ordained by God to point us to the Living Hope, which is impossible to thwart. Christ provides an unshakable foundation to our joy, an untouchable source of peace, and a never-ending spring of hope. I praise the Lord that through my failures and disappointments I have been thrown, again and again, on this Christ.  

So, don’t live a life devoid of hoping and dreaming…fix your heart on the Best of the best, and let the good things fall into their proper place. And when all those lesser expectations and dreams fall short, as they invariably will, remember the Hope that cannot and will not, ever, disappoint. 

Written by NBB alumna: Anna Hooper