Disappointment. That miserable emotion can spring up from a range of circumstances, from the trivial to the serious.
- The last Oreo has been eaten before you finally get to sit down with your coffee
- A friend doesn’t check in with you, when they know you are having a tough week
- Your pleading prayer which is your heart’s desire is answered with a “No” or “Not yet”
How you do respond? I fully admit that too often my response is just the same as my toddler’s response when I say, “No more cookies today”. In my own respectable, grown up way, I pout and huff.
As I’ve been trying to teach my children not to huff when mommy says “no”, it got me thinking about what God’s Word has to say about disappointment.
Here’s 5 ways to move forward through this tricky emotion.
1. Take it first to God
Joseph knew what is was to be let down by his brothers when they sold him into slavery in Egypt. When he finally saw his brothers again after many years, Joseph was able to say, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish… the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20
He saw that God had been in charge the whole time.
Ultimately, God’s hand is the one in control of our lives, not those around us who may have hurt us or let us down. Of course, our human relationships may also need some repairing.
But first, take your disappointment to God and pray it through with him. He is the one ordaining your circumstances.
2. Grieve it with God
“The Lord is near to the broken-hearted.” Psalm 34:18
Are you feeling that God is cold and distant when you are feeling disappointed? He isn’t! I love the tender image of this Psalm – our Creator God sees our fragile state and He stays close. Our hurt is not insignificant to Him.
Grief comes for many different reasons, and it takes different forms. You can’t rush it.
Give yourself the time you need to feel disappointment and to be able to process those feelings in a healthy way. God does not pretend we feel fine; He is not afraid of our grief.
3. Trust in God’s plans and His ways
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9
The truth is, we just don’t see the whole picture.
To go back to my toddler again, he can’t realise why I’m not letting him have all the cookies he wants. It makes no sense to him that sometimes he asks and I say yes (on the way home from the park) and sometimes it’s no (two minutes before dinner). But his perspective is limited.
God is our sovereign Heavenly Father. He knows the end from the beginning, and His ways are perfect. We can fully trust that He knows what we need before we even ask. When we feel disappointed, we can still have confidence that He knows what He’s doing.
4. Learn to be content
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11
This verse is so inspiring! And more than a little challenging.
It feels so difficult to separate our feelings of contentment from our life situations. But it’s a liberating thing, actually, because we aren’t trapped by our disappointment. We can move through it, even when everything else in life stays the same.
I love that Paul writes, “I have learned…” He wasn’t just born content; he didn’t just wake up one day and never feel discontent again. He learned it. I suppose it takes practise.
When I’m feeling disappointed, then working on my contentment whatever the circumstances is a really helpful step. It focuses me on every blessing I have in Christ.
5. Keep praising God
“Though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:17-18
I find these verses from Habakkuk incredibly moving. Even though God’s prophet was facing unthinkable tough times, he chose to keep praising God.
Habakkuk clung to God’s character, not his circumstances. He knew that God was good, even though the cupboard was bare and his personal security was threatened.
I am sure that wasn’t easy. And it didn’t make the tough situation evaporate. But through the discipline of praising God, Habakkuk was strengthened to keep on trusting.
Faith or bitterness?
Maybe our disappointments are not of that magnitude. But of course, to each of us, they are significant. God does not belittle our disappointments! But He does want us to grow in faith, not in bitterness.
Remember that range of circumstances, from the lack of cookies to the unfulfilled heart’s desire? Our response to these situations is important (even the trivial ones!) It leads our heart toward God, or away from Him.
How will you respond, next time that feeling of disappointment springs up? Keep in mind God’s goodness, His compassion and His wonderful sovereignty, and God will grow your faith through the experience.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8
Dear friends, this week I’m off on my holidays 🙂 Ice cream, coffee & no computers….
So this post is something I wrote a few months ago and it was sent out on Sarah Koontz’s weekly email – Saturday Soul Food. Check out her blog at sarahkoontz.com.
I hope you have a great week! God bless 🙂