Last week was a week of celebration but also of disappointment for the candidates standing in the 2022 NI Assembly Elections – 239 people put themselves forward for the possibility of winning one of the 90 seats as MLA. Therefore, there will be many candidates who now know the pain of public defeat and disappointment after putting their heart and soul into contesting in this election. Such public disappointment is not for the faint hearted and it is interesting to see the bravery of many in defeat. One candidate who has been an MLA for many years stated, ‘although I wasn’t successful today, I want to publicly thank all those who voted for me, all those who took part in the democratic process, and especially my team. I couldn’t have wished for a more dedicated and better group of supporters. It has been a privilege to serve’. This candidate realised that their defeat was not all about them and that others tireless efforts were a huge disappointment for them too. Sometimes the measure of someone is how they behave on the bad days and thanksgiving is the perfect antidote for disappointment.
Not gaining their quota of votes will be felt even more keenly by many of the MLAs who have served their community well for years but still lost their seats due to party swings. One such candidate who had worked very hard for their constituency was quick to thank others but also in the closing of one door they saw the possibility of more time with their family – ‘it has been a privilege to serve the people of North Belfast as a Councillor and then as a MLA for the past 12 years. I want to thank every single person who came out to vote for me over that time. Time for a new chapter and lots and lots of time with these three (her young children)’. Doubtless it was a huge body blow of disappointment but then disappointment comes in all shapes and sizes. Any time our hopes are not realised, or our expectations or desires are not fulfilled, we feel disappointed. A major disappointment can remain with us for all time, shadowing our reactions to everything and making us timid about going for that job or starting a new relationship. How we handle disappointment is the crucial issue.
The Bible is full of disappointed people! like the years of sorrow experienced by Sarah and Elizabeth as a result of their childlessness. Job and Joseph had good reason to be disappointed, too, both in people and in God. Elijah the prophet expected the great evidence of God’s power on Mount Carmel would bring revival. Instead, it only put a price on his head. He was so disappointed and if anyone was ever faced with a repeated disappointment, it was Moses. In infancy he was rescued from death by the faith of his parents. God arranged for him to be adopted by the princess of Egypt. But he spent the first formative years of his life being raised by his own parents. From them he learned of God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was taught that the Israelites were God’s people, chosen to bless the world, and that God would make them a nation and give them a land.
When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites. He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defence and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Moses thought that his own people would realise that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. (Acts 7:23-25). Moses was bitterly disappointed as he longed to be a deliverer of his people. He was willing to use his power and influence to change their desperate situation. But they rejected him. In fact, he had to flee for his life from Egypt to live near the desert for another forty years. Talk about disappointment!
So, if you expected a promotion, and someone less qualified got the job instead or if illness interrupted and permanently altered the plans you had for your family, remember how the wisest of the politicians have counted their blessings even though privately for a while they will be hurt and at a loss.
‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope’– Jeremiah 29:11.