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 – those times when a situation just didn’t turn out the way we thought it would or hoped it would. If we’re not careful, we can allow disappointment to remain in our hearts and minds where it festers to the point of sometimes threatening our confidence in God.
Oh, we do a pretty good job of covering up disappointment in most cases. We put on a happy face and act like nothing is wrong – but deep inside, disappointment eats away at us, if not dealt with. And before long, we can think that God doesn’t care. Because surely, if He did care, He’d DO something to make this feeling go away or change the circumstances so that we didn’t feel disappointed in the first place! It’s important during these times to remind ourselves that nothing is escaping God’s purview. He sees our situation and knows exactly what we’re going through – it hasn’t slipped under his radar. And when we feel totally helpless to deal with the disappointment we sense, it’s OK to be completely honest with God and just pour our feelings out to Him.
The Psalmist David certainly never hesitated to let God know how he was feeling. I think that’s one of the things I admire most about David – he was just totally, almost brutally, honest with God. And yet, he is described as “a man after God’s own heart”. I sometimes think God sees it as a sign of trust in Him, when we are able to be completely honest and transparent with Him. So it’s OK to let God know exactly how we feel when disappointment sets in!
In Psalm 73 we see David almost bitterly pointing out to God his frustration or disappointment with 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!”
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 and 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.
We all deal with disappointment from time to time. And usually we can get past those occasional bouts of the “poor me”s – 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 has given us. As we think about our blessings and praise Him for them, disappointment won’t stand a chance in our lives! 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 EVERY thing, 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 to summarize, we’ve mentioned the following strategies for handling those times when we’re disappointed with ourselves, with others, or even with God:
- We need to be completely honest with God and go ahead and tell him how we feel – acknowledge our disappointment.
- We need to give ourselves some time in His presence – just being quiet before him and allowing his Spirit to comfort us and guide us.
- 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.
- 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. Then we can say, along with the hymn-writer, truly “It is Well with My Soul.”
My prayer for you today is that you would come to know a real and lasting peace; that the people or situations that have caused you disappointment in the past or even now will absolutely lose their grip on you as you begin take strategic steps to deal with your feelings. Bring all your disappointments, your heartache, your pain and exchange them for the wonderful peace and hope that God wants to give you.
Joyfully serving Him,
Director of Music and Ministries
“It Is Well with My Soul” from NCC’s Song of Hope →