Disappointments come in all sizes – from a single drop of rain on a silk blouse to catastrophic flooding.
From, “Gee, that’s a bummer.” To, “I don’t know how we’ll recover.”
Historically, I’ve dealt with disappointment by choosing denial – telling myself, ‘It’s not a big deal, I’m fine.” In reality, I was exhausted from treading water for eight years and felt like I was drowning everyday.
It’s good to have a positive outlook, but don’t mistake denial for positivity.
So how do we deal with disappointment?
The very first step is to own it. Own what happened and how it made you feel. Acknowledge the pain and losses, because you cannot heal what is hidden.
Jesus gives us a brave example on the night he was betrayed. He shares his feelings. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Matthew 26:38
He expresses disappointment with his disciples. “Couldn’t you keep watch with me for one hour?” Matthew 26:40
He even conveys disappointment with the Father. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34
We ask the same question in our disappointments don’t we? “God where are you?”
I believe Jesus felt utterly forsaken, alone, and abandoned. He felt it because we feel it. There is nothing we face in life that Jesus didn’t experience during his time on earth. However, I don’t believe God the Father deserted his Son on the cross. God told the children of Israel, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” How could he then abandon his own Son? How could God separate himself from himself?
Paul tells us exactly where God was when Jesus was on the cross. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.” 2 Corinthians 5:19
Own it and then remind yourself that God is with you in the struggle. He will never leave nor never forsake you.
Another important step is to keep your hope in God. The disappointments in our lives come when we place our hope and expectation on the shoulders of other human beings.
Sometimes people are fully aware that their decisions will disappoint us. Other times it’s completely unintentional. The Bible speaks to human shortcomings in the contrast of this interesting verse:
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19
Humans change their minds. They make promises they can’t keep. They lie to avoid consequences. It’s a factor of our fallen humanity.
If you want to have rich relationship with other humans, you are going to have to get good at forgiving. (That’s a topic for another day. Check out our Austin area workshop – Finding Your Way to Forgiveness – Saturday March 3rd)
God needed us to know that he is not like everyone else we experience on this earth. He doesn’t lie or change his mind. He keeps his costly promises. You can trust in, lean on and depend on him! Let your hope and expectation rest on God’s strong shoulders.
Times of disappointment bring with them some of life’s greatest opportunities for growth.
In my early walk with God, I never read James chapter 1. I just skipped ahead to chapter 2, because I couldn’t reconcile this:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
The maturity part sounded good. I just wanted to get there without the trials and troubles. Thank you very much.
But there is great hope in this passage.Trials, testings, difficulties and disappointments have the potential to produce perseverance and endurance. We don’t download endurance. We build endurance through resistance. (Thank you Christine Caine for that nugget.)
Imagine a life where you are mature, complete, well-developed not lacking or deficient in any way. That’s a pretty great life.
There is a grounding wisdom that comes when you experience God’s love, grace and faithfulness in the middle of your disappointment. No one can take that away from you.
The things I’ve learned difficult seasons have given me great confidence. They make me brave. Because I figure, if I can make it through that…I can make it through anything.
We all face disappointment. We can choose denial. We can stay stuck in the sorrow of misplaced expectations or we can do the hard work of owning it, keeping our hope in God and allowing endurance to bring maturity and growth.
Disappointment always presents us with an opportunity.
Whether or not we allow transformation is our choice.