“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God!” [Psalms 43:5, NLT].
Everyone has experienced some form of disappointment. Be it disappointment in people, situations, events or things. Disappointments come from unmet needs, expectations, dreams, visions or targets. Someone once said to me, “do not have expectations, and you will not be disappointed”. However, how realistic is it to not have expectations? We all have them; whether it is of God, our walk of faith, family, other people, jobs, business, schools, leaders etc. The key to not being disappointed is not in not having expectations because that would be unrealistic. It is like telling someone to have faith, but also telling them not to expect that what they have faith in, will come to pass. What is key, is learning how to deal with disappointments when they happen, because they are sure to happen.
The initial reaction to disappointment is an emotional reaction. This reaction can be in the form of sadness, feeling hurt, crying, feeling angry etc. If these emotions are not properly dealt with, they can eventually grow into bitterness and/or jealousy. Bitterness and/or jealousy can choke up the good things that are in you. This is why Apostle Paul said, “Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives” [Hebrews 12:15, TLB]. The first step is acknowledging the emotions you are feeling. Once you are able to acknowledge them, you will be able to know how to deal with them through God’s Word. The next step is to identify why you felt disappointed. Apart from the fact that your expectations were unmet, could it be that your expectations were placed on the wrong people or things? For instance, you expected a friend to do something for you or to meet a certain need, however (s)he failed to do so. Could it be that the friend did not know about this expectation, and therefore was not in the position to do so? Also, if (s)he knew but still did not meet that expectation, could it be that (s)he was not equipped to handle it, and maybe someone or something else should have?
King David once had expectations of God, in that He expected the ungodly not to flourish especially as it seemed the godly were not flourishing. He said, “No doubt about it! God is good—good to good people, good to the good-hearted. But I nearly missed it, missed seeing his goodness. I was looking the other way, looking up to the people. At the top, envying the wicked who have it made, Who have nothing to worry about, not a care in the whole wide world.” [Psalms 73:1-5, MSG]. David had shifted his gaze from the goodness of God to look up to not just anyone but to the wrong people. And not only was he looking up to them, he actually envied them. He wondered how the wicked could flourish, and this led to him feeling disappointed. His actual disappointment was in that he had done what he thought were all the right things, but it wasn’t paying dividends. However, the wicked did all the wrong things but seemed to reap what he was supposed to be enjoying.
In his disappointment, he questioned, “Does God realize what is going on?” they ask. “Look at these men of arrogance; they never have to lift a finger—theirs is a life of ease; and all the time their riches multiply.” Have I been wasting my time? Why take the trouble to be pure? All I get out of it is trouble and woe—every day and all day long! [Psalms 73:11-14, TLB]. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you seemed to have worked harder than others, and gotten passed for a promotion, not once but severally? Where you did all the right things but rather got punished, whereas those who did the wrong, got away with it? Where you were the diligent one, but a seemingly lazy person was consistently chosen? Where you did what God’s Word said to do, but did not see the promise in His Word materialize? This is the place David found himself. He wondered if God was asleep because if He was awake, such things would not be happening. There have been days, I have been there myself, wondering, “God, what is going on?”.
However, David did something after questioning; which is the third step to dealing with disappointments. He sought to understand things from God’s perspective. Understand that with every situation that we encounter, there is our perspective and understanding of the issue, and then there is God’s. David said, “Then one day I went into God’s sanctuary to meditate and thought about the future of these evil men. What a slippery path they are on—suddenly God will send them sliding over the edge of the cliff and down to their destruction: an instant end to all their happiness, an eternity of terror. Their present life is only a dream! They will awaken to the truth as one awakens from a dream of things that never really were!” [Psalms 73:17-20, TLB]. Seeing things from God’s perspective changed the lenses through which he was seeing the situation, and also changed how he ought to deal with it. Also, it showed David that he was focusing on the wrong things in life, and what he ought to be focusing on was God. Acknowledging this, David said, “My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the rock and strength of my heart and my portion forever. But as for me, it is good for me to draw near to God; I have made the Lord God my refuge and placed my trust in Him, That I may tell of all Your works.” [Psalms 73:26, 29 AMP]. This week I have had to comfort myself with these scriptures, and you can also do the same.
The last step in dealing with disappointments is not to grow weary. Yes, things may not have gone the way you had expected them to, but don’t give up and neither should you give in. The Apostle Paul entreats us, “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.” [Galatians 6:9-10, MSG].
What do you think? Do you have any experiences with disappointments and how did you handle or deal with them?