When I finished my undergraduate degree in 2013, I signed up for a training and discipleship programme called Relay with Christian Unions Ireland (CUI). As a relatively new Christian, I was excited for the opportunity to study the Bible more deeply and get to grips with the Christian faith. It was a great year of growth and change for me. Throughout the year, I attended conferences with other Relay workers from Ireland and the UK. One of the talks from the last conference sticks with me. We were warned about disappointment. That disappointment would come, and that it could rock our faith. I didn’t want to be that person. I didn’t want my faith to be rocked by disappointment.
But I have experienced disappointment – some of which has been easy to get past, some of which has broken me and some, though I hate to admit it, that has rocked my faith…
- There are times when I have been disappointed by myself: when I’ve let others down, things I wish I said, things I wish I hadn’t said…
- There are times when I have been disappointed by others: friendships that have fizzled out, relationships that haven’t worked out…
- There are times when I have been disappointed by my life circumstances: finding myself in an unenjoyable job, a career dream that came to an end…
Disappointment will come again in some shape or form. The reality is that we all experience disappointment at some point in our lives. What matters is how we deal with it when it comes.
How to deal with disappointment:
Meditate on God’s Promises
At all times, but especially when a situation hasn’t worked out as we hoped, it’s important to meditate on God’s Word and His promises. Leaning into God’s promises shines God’s perspective on my life circumstances. It reminds me of His character, and what I can be certain of. God’s Words tells us that we will have hard times (Romans 8:18; James 1:12), but it also tells us that God will work out all things for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
While there have been disappointments in my life, there have been lots of joys and opportunities:
- Where friendships have fizzled out, others have blossomed
- When relationships have come to an end, God has renewed my hope in Him, and reminded me of the endless joy and love that is found in Him.
- A career dream that came to an end led to me discovering a passion I hadn’t considered before.
Recently, I listened to a podcast on friendship by Jennie Allen. In it she spoke about how inevitably we will disappoint others, and others will disappoint us. In all relationships, we come with certain expectations. But of course, we cannot always live up to the expectations of others, and vice versa. We are human, prone to sin and make mistakes. Rather than focusing on the mistakes, Jennie Allen chooses to see disappointments in relationships as a reminder that God is enough.
Be Open with Trusted Family and Friends
My tendency is so often to hide my disappointment. But disappointment festers in the darkness. If it is brought to light the weight of the disappointment can be shared and put in perspective. If disappointment is brought to the Light of the World, Jesus, healing can happen, and hope can be restored.
Be Open with God
However heavy disappointment may weigh upon us, however worn out we may feel, Jesus can and will carry us, and He walks us through it. Heed the call of Jesus in Matthew 11:29-30, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
My disappointment is never too big for God. Proverbs 13:12 is a verse that God often brings to my mind during disappointment, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life”. It reminds me that He has seen it all, He knows that it will happen, and what it feels like. For me, Proverbs 13:12 so accurately describes the feeling of deep disappointment. This type of disappointment comes from misplaced hope. Keep this in mind. Disappointment comes as a result of us placing our hope in friendships, relationships, jobs, material things. Place your hope in God, in the salvation of Jesus Christ, a hope that is steadfast and sure:
“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf” (Hebrews 6:17-19).
Please don’t misunderstand me – I’m not saying that we should not desire or pursue friendships, relationships, career, etc. We should. But if things don’t work out as we hoped, remember that the hope of God remains and is steadfast.
Keep in Mind Our Humanness
God knows our human frame (Psalm 103;14). He keeps this in mind when dealing with us, ultimately by showing us grace unmeasured through our Saviour Jesus Christ. He is patient with us, He forgives us, He shows us new mercy and love day by day (Lamentations 3:22-23). Imagine if we loved ourselves and others as God loves us. Next time you feel disappointed in yourself, remember God’s love and grace towards you. Next time you feel disappointed with someone else, pray for God’s help to show them love, grace and patience.
Psalm 103: 8-14
“The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.”