- sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations
Disappointment is one of the most awful feelings in the whole world. There is nothing worse than looking forward to something – an event, a gift, an outcome, and then having your hopes crumble before your eyes. Honestly, the only thing that can top that, is having to be mature in your response, when all you really want to do is stomp your feet and throw a full-on two-year-old tantrum!!
Personal Experience in Disappointment
This is how I felt this last weekend. My sister and I had decided to go on a cruise together this summer. Of course, we waited until the last minute to book our passage (due to a few things out of our control) and the day before we were going to get together and lock it in, the cruise we were hoping for (and counting on) disappeared from the listing.
I was crushed!! For one who experiences so few strong emotions on a regular basis, I dropped into a quick depressive state and found myself inwardly screaming, crying and totally stomping my feet. It wasn’t fair! I never do anything fun and frivolous for myself. I am always the responsible and conservative one who stays close to home watching others doing all sorts of fun, costly things.
But then I realized that I’ve been writing all of these blog posts recently about finding joy in all circumstances, and here I was throwing a fit when something didn’t go my way. Wow, okay Lord. So, I started praying, and the rest of the night I had a prayer on loop in my head, “Lord, I will choose joy in You. I will trust that your plan is better than my plan. Even in my sadness and disappointment, I will choose joy in You.” (Quite literally, that prayer played over and over, waking me up throughout the night and infiltrating my dreams.)
The next morning, I looked online, and the cruise listing was back. I rejoiced in God’s goodness and sent all the necessary texts announcing it to the (small) world that cared. But, by the time my sister showed up…the magical booking hour, it was gone…again. And I was crushed…again. So, we decided to look at another cruise line, and they had the exact same cruise available! Yay!! But then, we looked at the plane tickets to get there and (due to the recent spikes in gas and pilot shortages) they were going to cost twice as much as the cruise itself…boo!!
Lesson Learned in Disappointment
So, on to the loop prayer again, “Lord, I will choose joy in You. I will trust that your plan is better than my plan. Even in my sadness and disappointment, I will choose joy in You.”
As a last-ditch effort, we decided to look at a cruise port that was within driving distance. These were not the cruises I was wanting. Most of the cruises out of this port are 3–4-day cruises, and I had my heart set on something in the Caribbean. But we looked anyway. We scrolled all the way to the bottom, and there we found a 7-day cruise to the west coast of Mexico. My sister clicked on it, and I stared at her. She stared back and shrugged. This cruise was longer than we had been planning, it was the same week that we had wanted, and it was CHEAPER!!
God had refused to give me what I wanted. And I had been oh so disappointed. But He had something better planned. His plan was to teach me to find joy in Him through ALL circumstances. And through that lesson, He chose to bless me as well.
So, what questions should we ask ourselves in order to examine our hearts when experiencing disappointment?
1. What is your heart’s focus?
I guess a better question might be, what do you consider most important in your life? It’s easy to say that God is number one, and He should be, but once we truly examine our hearts, often we find that something, or someone, else comes first.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
If you find yourself overly disappointed, and unable to pull out of it, this would be the first question to ask. Have I put that expectation, that hope, before the Lord? Have I shifted my focus from an expectation of His best, to an expectation of my best?
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23
Should this be your prayer on loop? “Search me, God, and know my heart.” I can tell you right now, He is waiting for this one. This prayer shows humility, a willingness to acknowledge when things are not right, a willingness to set them right.
And He is so gracious and good. Once you’re willing to make Him the focus, to seek Him first, He will bless you for it and teach you so many wonderful things.
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. Lamentations 3:25
2. What are you trying to control?
My answer – so many things!! Control is a hard one for me. I want things the way I want them, when I want them, and it’s hard to let that go. So many times in the past, I have been able to see God’s plan work out way better than my plan could have, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to control the outcome the next time around! I don’t seem to ever learn my lesson, and because of that, I face disappointment…a lot.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:6-8
This is important. When we are busy trying to control everything in our lives, we are opening ourselves up to so much stress, anxiety, frustration, and disappointment. Life rarely goes the way we plan, and when we are so caught up in trying to maintain that control, we miss out on the gift of living! We need to be careful, as this dangerous habit can divert our attention off of our God and King, and we can easily find ourselves in Satan’s trap.
Instead of planning and control, we should pray and give these things over to Him. He is much better equipped to handle the anyway.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
3. In whom do you place your trust?
This kinda goes along with the last question, because chances are, if you are trying to control the situation, you are not placing your trust in the right place. For some reason, I consistently believe that I am more capable and trustworthy than the God of the universe. Do you struggle with the same?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. Proverbs 3:5-7
A lot of you might know these verses. Personally, I first memorized them as a song in Sunday school. Now, after all these years, this is the song that replays over and over in my head (another loop). Probably because these are the words that I so often need to hear. Not my understanding, but Yours Oh Lord. Not my path, but Yours.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
The trust thing isn’t because I’ve been burned before. I honestly am not sure why I struggle so much with this. But it’s got to come down to fear. Fear of the unknown maybe? Fear of disappointment? Fear of feeling? I’m not sure. It’ll probably take me a lifetime to figure out (if I ever do).
What I do know, is that God’s ways are good. They might have pain for a moment, and I may not understand them, but in the end, they are always good.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
4. Do you have the right perspective?
Understanding that what happens here on earth is temporary, goes a long way toward straightening out our priorities and our perspective. We are all eternal beings, and the greater length of our lives will be lived out after death. Our number one priority here on earth is to spread the news of Jesus Christ and of His sacrifice, so that as many as possible have the opportunity to share that eternity in heaven with us.
All that the disappointments and struggles of today are good for, is the ongoing sanctification of our hearts and minds (for a good definition of sanctification, read this blog post). When we turn toward the Lord in these tougher times, we draw nearer to Him. And when we draw nearer to Him, we reflect Him more.
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
Our hope should be in that eternity with Him. When that is our focus, and our priority, all else fades away.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18
5. Where do you find your joy?
The definition of joy is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. So, what brings you those feelings? It’s okay to find joy in many things, as long as we can recognize who provided those things that bring you joy. There is no truly good thing on this planet that did not first come from Him.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights James 1:17a
If we are finding joy in something that does not come from Him, we are treading a dangerous path. All things not from God lead to destruction and away from eternity with Him.
For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:16-17 (NLT)
So, I will choose joy in my God no matter what. And I will loop the prayer, “Lord, I will choose joy in You. I will trust that your plan is better than my plan. Even in my sadness and disappointment, I will choose joy in You.” Because all else fades away. Nothing else matters.
I will thank the Lord at all times. My lips will always praise him. I will find my glory in knowing the Lord. Let those who are hurting hear me and be joyful. Join me in giving glory to the Lord. Let us honor him together. Psalm 34:1-3 (NIrV)
The more we learn to trust in God’s goodness and in His sovereignty (which is His supreme power and authority over all), the more joy we have in Him, and the more joy we have in Him, the more we can cling to hope in all the disappointments that life brings.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13