Better Days Ahead—Part 5

November 16, 2021

by Peter Amsterdam

Dealing with Disappointment

Often when I’m having prayer time and meditating on God’s Word, I take some time to count my blessings and recall how God’s goodness has been manifested in my life. I feel so grateful. I think of Samuel’s wise words when he reminded us to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully and wholeheartedly; considering what great things He has done! (1 Samuel 12:24). It’s uplifting to meditate on the Lord’s goodness and mercy. I believe we can all rejoice and say, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3 NIV).

But, of course, our life stories are not all roses and sunshine. We live in a fallen world, and consequently, I believe that we have all felt the sting of disappointment. The word disappointment is defined as “a feeling of dissatisfaction when one’s hopes, desires, and expectations fail to come to pass.” Some synonyms for it are dismay, frustration, and letdown.

Disappointment can suck the proverbial life out of you. It can hurt so much that you can actually feel sick. And it’s not usually enough to just smile and “put on a happy face”—disappointment is often painful and sad!

You might be in a season of life right now where you feel that you’ve experienced one disappointment after another. This could be related to lost opportunities, painful relationships or family issues, work projects being stalled or failing, a tragic medical diagnosis instead of a triumphant recovery, and the list goes on.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33 NIV). And that means everyone! There’s no escaping it. I suppose that could sound a little fatalistic. So, what are we to do about it? Well, to begin with, let’s not forget the second part of that verse, where Jesus said, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” There is always hope, because Jesus is the ultimate victor!

In the midst of disappointment, knowing that God is listening and hears our heartcries is a comfort. He will always hear us, whether we are happy, sad, heartbroken, or disappointed. And we can remind ourselves that nothing is too hard for the Lord or beyond His reach or outside of His care and provision for us. “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27).

When we are feeling the weight of disappointment, it’s helpful to try to put things in perspective by looking at our situation from a different point of view.

The first thing to keep in mind is this: no amount of suffering or disappointment we experience in this life can ever undo what God has done for us in Christ. ...

The truth is, our trials and disappointments, though we may not like them, do serve a purpose. It is through trials that we learn patience and humility, endurance and trust—virtues that strengthen us and develop godly character.

Also, it is during the difficult times that we learn to rely on God and experience firsthand the absolute trustworthiness of His Word. We also learn the truth of what Paul taught: God’s power is at its strongest when we are at our weakest (2 Corinthians 12:9). ...

It is important that our perspective includes eternity. Our time on earth is an incalculably small fraction of our eternal journey.

Consider the apostle Paul and the persecution he was subjected to while spreading the gospel. Although his litany of suffering seems unbearable by any measure, he amazingly referred to his hardships as “light and momentary troubles.” This is because he focused on the “eternal glory” that far outweighed any earthly disappointments he experienced (2 Corinthians 4:17; see also Romans 8:18). We can do this, he said, when we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but rather on what is unseen, our heavenly home (2 Corinthians 4:18). …

Being a child of God means we are never alone in our trials (Hebrews 13:5). God gives us the strength and grace we need to endure any circumstance and to overcome any disappointment (Philippians 4:13).1

I have found that in times of struggle, quoting Philippians 4:4,6–7 out loud can help me to refocus on God’s truth and not allow worry and stress related to problems, sickness, disappointments, or work issues to dominate my thoughts.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

After quoting these verses, the key is to make an intentional effort to put this into practice. It starts with rejoicing and thanking the Lord for His goodness and His blessings. It also helps to recall specific blessings and victories and enumerate these many good things. Then take note of the things that are causing you to feel anxious. Commit this list to the Lord in prayer, couching these petitions with thanksgiving, giving God glory and expressing gratitude for His mercy and goodness. The last step is to focus on receiving the peace that He promises to give, that amazing peace that “surpasses all understanding.” Even when the situation seems impossible, He has promised that we can receive His peace.

When we experience disappointment, we can learn, grow, and mature, as we see in James 1:2–4:

Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing (AMP).

Of course, in spite of our best efforts to learn and grow from disappointments, there will be times when we feel overwhelmed and discouraged when something happens out of the blue that we were not expecting. Or when we had been working toward a specific goal that was important to us and, contrary to our plans, the outcome was different than expected and seems to be a setback or loss.

In times like these we need to remember that God sees the big picture. Our situation is never hopeless. God has a plan for our lives. We know that we can trust God because He is good. We trust Him because He loves us and knows best. We trust Him because He has promised to work in and through even our setbacks, failures, and challenges and turn them into blessings in our lives. When our hopes and expectations don’t come to pass, it’s important to not become disillusioned with God Himself.

When God does not act when we think He should act, it is not because He is unable to do so. … God chooses to act or not to act according to His perfect and holy will in order to bring about His righteous purposes. Nothing happens that is out of God’s plan. … There are times when He chooses to let us know His plans (Isaiah 46:10), and times when He does not. Sometimes we understand what He is doing; sometimes we do not (Isaiah 55:9). One thing we do know for sure: if we belong to Him, whatever He does will be to our benefit, whether or not we understand it. …

When we align our wills with God’s will and when we can say, with Jesus, “Not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42), then we find the contentment Paul spoke of in 1 Timothy 6:6–10 and Philippians 4:11–12. Paul had learned to be content with whatever God sent his way. He trusted God and submitted to His will, knowing that a holy, righteous, perfect, loving, and merciful God would work all things together for good because that is what He promised. When we see God in that light, we cannot possibly be disappointed with Him. Rather, we [should] submit willingly to our heavenly Father, knowing that His will is perfect and that everything He brings to pass in our lives will be for our good and His glory.2

We can be confident that even when we don’t understand, there is a purpose in what the Lord allows to come into our lives. And if we are open and humble, we can learn from disappointment, even if it is a result of our mistakes, sins, or wrong decisions. It is beneficial to seek the Lord for anything He wants to teach us during our times of suffering.

When you are experiencing times of discouragement or disappointment, especially if you feel you have failed in some way, try to be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up in your thoughts. Be gentle with yourself instead of critical. Make a conscious effort to stop your negative self-talk.

Remember that our identity as Christians, our sense of worth and self-esteem, is based on the fact that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who created us specifically in love. He came to this world and gave His life for us. Not only that, but He has promised that we will live in an eternal world of beauty and joy in eternal bodies. When our view of ourselves is fully grounded in God’s unconditional love and our identity as a child of God with an eternal destiny, regardless of our faults and failings, that helps to build positive feelings about our future and full potential.

How the Lord sees you is expressed beautifully in the song by Lauren Daigle called “You Say.” Here are some of the words of this song:

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know

You say I am loved
When I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong
When I think I am weak
You say I am held
When I am falling short
When I don’t belong
You say I am Yours
And I believe
I believe
What You say of me
I believe

You can find the official video of the song on YouTube,3 where it’s been viewed by over 230 million people!

In closing, here is an encouraging message from Jesus.

No matter what your circumstances or how you have handled them, no matter what you have done or not done, I love you. I see your every tear. I hear your every cry for help. I feel your heartaches, your sorrows, your frustrations, your disappointments. I see straight through to your heart of hearts, and I love you more deeply than you can possibly comprehend.

Life often is a struggle, but it is made so much easier when you bring all your burdens and cares to Me. I can transform even turmoil, emptiness, and disappointment into peace, hope, and love.

Come to Me with all that is weighing you down and I will relieve your troubled mind, dry your tears, and renew your courage and hope.

Every new day can be a new start. Decisions of the past have had their effect, but no matter what has happened up till now, you can make the right decisions today.

Don’t waste time reliving the pain of past mistakes and wrong decisions. That only saps your strength to do what you can do today. You can’t change the past.

Learn from past mistakes and put them behind you today. Forgive those who have wronged you and ask forgiveness from those you have wronged. Look to Me and My Word for fresh courage and hope, starting today. Set new goals today. Spend your time on things that truly count today. Determine to do things better, commit all your ways to Me starting today.

With My help, your future can be filled with fresh perspective, fulfillment, and new achievements that will more than make up for past disappointments—and it all starts today.—Jesus

Praise the Lord! Let’s remember, “Yesterday is the past, tomorrow is the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”4 God bless you!