Summary: When we feel disappointment in life, we blame our own expectations, we blame those who love us, and ultimately we blame God. Repentance and acceptance of grace takes us away from self and toward contentment.
Those of you who attempt to grow gardens know that it takes infinite patience and infinite hope to be a gardener. It takes infinite patience because it can be a great deal of work and a lot of expense and much waiting to get any kind of results.
Incidentally, I dispute the notion that you can save money by growing your own vegetables. If you add together the cost of the seedlings and the price of the fertilizer and the investment in stakes and trellises and the money the water company wants .. if you add that all together I suspect your tomatoes cost you about $2.00 each. Not exactly competitive with Safeway.
Well, it takes infinite patience and it takes infinite hope. Gardeners, no matter how many times defeated by the weather, the blight, and the hungry birds, will keep on gardening. As a rule, gardeners are a hopeful group of folks. But sometimes they yield to their disappointment.
I read once of a man who had tried everything. He had attempted to grow vegetables in his yard, but they had come up puny, hard, inedible things. He had gone from vegetables to fruit trees, but they had sat there season after season with nothing but a few pitiful buds to show for his efforts. He had given up on the fruit and planted grass, but the trees shaded the grass too much, and it would not grow. He even tried hardy ground cover, and even the ground cover turned yellow and died. And so in a fit of disappointment, he did the only sure thing. He called in the concrete mixer and had them pour green concrete over the whole yard!
Summer is the season of disappointment. Summer is the season of high hopes followed by devastating disappointments. Author John Steinbeck may have spoken of the winter of our discontent, but this morning we are going to hear the prophet Micah speaking about the summer of our disappointment. He will speak of ’a time when the summer fruit has been gathered and is no more, when the vines have been harvested, and there is nothing left to eat. Micah will speak to us of feeling disappointed. But he will have much more than gardens and fruit in which to be
A word of background: Micah is one of that great series of prophets who flourished in both Israel and Judah in the eighth century before Christ. Micah is feeling frustrated. He has tried his best to speak to the people of Judah about justice and about covenant faithfulness, but it feels to him as though no lesson has been learned, no word has been taken seriously.
You see, the historical context is that Israel, the northern Kingdom, has already fallen, long since placed under Assyrian domination. And the southern kingdom, Judah, where Micah lives, has just narrowly escaped destruction, again at the hands of the Assyrians. It has been an absolutely devastating few years. You would think that it would call the nation to a time of self-examination. . You would think that it would be a time of re-evaluation and renewal. Micah had hoped that his preaching would make that happen. He had expended a great deal of energy. His had been the springtime of the heart, when all things are possible.
But now Micah has moved past the springtime of possibility and he sees the summer of reality. He has been disillusioned about the springtime of the heart and has moved into the summer of disappointment. The people have learned exactly nothing. What he had worked for is just not going to happen. Micah says it’s like growing summer fruit ... you grow it, but once it’s gone, it’s gone. There is nothing left. It’s bitterly disappointing.
Notice that the essence of Micah’s disappointment is that his work, his effort has gone for naught. Like a gardener who works and weeds, in hot weather and in wet, to get a little produce, only to find that the yields are very small … just like that gardener, Micah feels disappointed. The work he has been doing seems not to have paid off at all.
"Woe is me! For I have become like one who, after the summer fruit has been gathered, after the vintage has been gleaned, finds no cluster to eat: there is no first-ripe fig for which I hunger."
Can you hear Micah’s heart in this? Micah has worked so hard, and for what? Nobody seems to have learned a thing. And it hurts. .
You see, the summer of disappointment begins when you think that your work is not appreciated. The summer of disappointment begins when we wake up and admit that all that we are doing, all the dreams we are dreaming, all the investments of time and energy ... it will not amount to a hill of beans. It is being ignored and rejected.