How many times have your “specs” been broken? And I’m not talking about eyeglasses here! I’m referring to broken expectations that can create a major source of disappointment for us. From time to time, we all need a little reminder about how to deal with the disappointments life brings our way. Because left unchecked, disappointments can mount and before long, major discouragement can set in.
One of the first keys to dealing with discouragement is to remind ourselves that God sees our situation. He knows what we’re going through – it hasn’t slipped under his radar! And when we feel totally helpless – it’s OK to be completely honest with God and just pour our feelings out to Him. His shoulders are broad and he can take our venting and ranting and cries of disappointment.
David is described as “a man after God’s own heart” and yet, we find in the Psalms that he did not hesitate to let God know exactly how he felt when disappointment set in! In Psalm 73 we see David bitterly pointing out the prosperity of the wicked. He says:
“I envied the arrogant! They have no struggles. Their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man, they are not plagued by human ills.”
“Always carefree, they increase in wealth! Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; All day long I have been plagued!”
So – here we see David comparing his own life with that of others; and THAT can be the FIRST STEP toward major disappointment! – getting our eyes off of God and His plan for US, for OUR lives, and paying more attention to the lives of others and the ways they seem to be getting ahead!
But then we read these words, beginning in verse 16. David writes:
“When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me! UNTIL I entered the sanctuary of God; THEN – I understood their final destiny.”
There’s a key here: when we enter the “sanctuary of God” – that means the place of His presence – we can find understanding that will help us not be disappointed in our circumstances or situation; It’s in that place of meeting with Him, in the quiet of our devotional time, in the services at our church, in our prayer time, that understanding can finally come and disappointment can begin to fade away.
Disappointment is something we all deal with from time to time. And usually we can get past those occasional bouts of the “poor me” syndrome – the times of wishing things had turned out differently; But other times, it’s a more serious problem and we find ourselves focused more and more on the negative, continually asking God “WHY?” and even blaming Him for our situation.
When this begins to happen, we would do well to follow this advice found in Philippians 4:
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
And from 2 Corinthians 10:5 –
“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
We must realize that we can take control of our thought life and redirect our thoughts away from our disappointments and toward those things that we can be thankful for – the good things He’s given us, the times He’s been there for us, the dangers He’s kept us safe from, the provision He’s made for us, and so many other things.
Another way we can defeat disappointment is through PRAISE. I know that can be difficult when we’re dealing with disappointment, but if we’ll praise anyway, if we’ll rejoice when we don’t really feel like it, disappointment won’t stand a chance of taking root in our lives! Earlier in the 4th chapter of Philippians we read:
“Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again: Rejoice! Do not be anxious about anything but in EVERYthing, by prayer and petition present your request to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
So let’s summarize the strategies we’ve covered for handling those times when we’re disappointed with ourselves, with others, or even with God!
- First of all, we need to be completely honest with God and go ahead and tell him how we feel – acknowledge our disappointment.
- We must refuse to compare ourselves with others and instead, give ourselves some time in His presence – just being quiet before him and allowing his Spirit to comfort us and guide us.
- Next, we pay attention to our thought-life and in the words of the apostle Paul, we take every thought captive and make sure it’s a thought that is uplifting and God-pleasing. We refuse to allow negative thoughts to have a place in our minds.
- Finally, we rejoice! Active praise is one of the best antidotes for disappointment that I know of! Disappointment and praise cannot co-exist in the same place, at least for very long. As we begin to exalt our Lord, even while we may still be having struggles with disappointment, God will meet us more than halfway and encourage our praise by pouring out his peace. And as we begin to sense that peace, we praise Him even more. The more we praise, the more peace He pours out. Soon, disappointment is gone and contentment takes its place.
My prayer for all of us today is that we would come to know that peace – that the people or situations that have caused us disappointment in the past or even now will absolutely lose their grip on us as we come to Him, just as we are; that we might bring all our disappointments, our heartache, and our pain and exchange them for the wonderful peace and hope that God wants to give us.
Joyfully serving Him,
Director of Music and Ministries