Disappointment is a part of life and that does not change just because we become a Christian. Even as I write this column, I am smarting from some recent disappointments. Yes even pastor’s face disappointments. However, with that said, I praise God that unlike the unbeliever, we are better equipped at handling disappointments because we worship a loving, caring and sovereign God. Let me take a few minutes share some of the truths of God’s Word that we can draw from to help us when we face life’s disappointments. To do this we must begin with a definition of what disappointment means.
A disappointment is best defined as a dream or desire that for some reason is not realized. It may be due to setting unrealistic expectations that were impossible to reach. It may be due to a desire to acquire something that we have wanted for some time. It can also be something that we worked very hard for and at the last minute it fell through for a reason out of our control. It can, at times, be due to the failure of others who have promised something but didn’t or couldn’t deliver on that promise. It may even be something we wanted and felt God’s leading and in the end God says no. Whatever is the cause of our disappointment it still goes back to the fact that for some reason the desire of our heart has not been fulfilled and it leaves us hurting down deep inside.
For the believer, disappointment does not have to be a tragic event. If we approach our desires and our dreams in a biblical manner by always seeking God’s will to be done, than even if we do not get what we wanted there is still much to rejoice in.
#1: We can rejoice in the fact that our best interests have been served. God always has our best interest in mind whether He says yes or no. We find that a little hard to accept when we are hurting from a “no” but it is the truth just the same. God knows us better than we know ourselves and he also knows what the future will bring if our desire is fulfilled. Therefore He is the best Person to decide what is best for our lives.
Rom 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
a. God may say no because He knows that if he allows us our desire, it will lead to our ruin. How many times people desire to be rich and yet when wealth comes their way it ends up destroying their lives or the lives of their family.
b. God may say no because He has something better waiting for us. Abraham asked God to allow Ishmael to be the “promised son” but God said no! To Abraham this must have been disappointing for he loved Ishmael. But if God had said yes, Abraham and Sarah would have missed out on the wonderful blessing of the miraculous birth of the promised son Isaac.
#2: We can rejoice in the fact that in all the disappointments God allows to come our way there is always a purpose. Even the greatest of disappointmentsof a person’s life may be the seed for a great victory when God is in it. Take Gideon for example. How disappointed he must have been when so many of the men of Israel chose to walk a way from the battle when given the chance. Yet it was this disappointment that God used to give Gideon a great victory.
This is hard for me sometimes to grasp when I have poured time and effort into something and it comes up short. I want to say to God, what a waste of time to go through all of this for nothing. But when I do so I forget two important truths.
a. God is in sovereign control over all that happens in our life and he often uses disappointment to teach us some valuable lessons.
James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing thatthe testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
I have learned that the only bad mistake or failure is the one we do not learn from. Some of the things I routinely do well are the product of many failures and disappointments. I have the ability today to trouble shoot, repair, update, and even build computers. This did not come through formal education but rather through the school of “hard knocks.” I learned doing and failing and doing again.
b. God is in sovereign control over all that happens in others lives. When I am disappointed over something it is my tendency to think about poor me. I did not get what I wanted or just wasted a lot of time and resources. However, I forget that the process that brings disappointment to me may be the tool God uses to enrich the life of another. That being the case, the disappointment suddenly has meaning and value because God has given it value. Paul was a man who went through many great disappointments and struggles. Check out his list in (2 Cor. 11:22-33). Yet Paul indicates that he had learned to be content in all things because he knew that his disappoints served as a ministry to others. (Phil. 4:11-13).
#3: We can Rejoice that No Matter what the Disappointment It will be Replaced Some Day with Something far greater when We see Christ. Paul writes,
Ro 8:18-19, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
In other words, whatever God has called me to do without or causes disappointment, He will make up many times over when we see Him face to face. What God has waiting for us is so grand that when we see it the disappointments of this life will not even be worth remembering. Because I entered the pastorate, I knew that I would not get rich and that I probably would get paid less than what I needed to make ends meet. This would mean disappointments and sacrifices that others would not have to make. However, I was willing to do this because I knew that God, being a just God, would put to right any of the wrongs or sacrifices I have to endure in this life.
#4: We can Rejoice in the Fact that through the Disappointments God sends our way that if We Rise Up to the Task and Accept them with Grace that God will Reward Us.
Heb 10:35-36, "Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:"
1 Co 9:25-27, "And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."
2 Ti 4:7-8, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."
Jas 1:12, "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him"
#5: We can Rejoice in the Fact that the more Disappointments that we must Face in this life the more Meaningful will be the Experience of Entering into Heaven. Take for example Joni Erika Tada who has been a paraplegic since her teenage years. Think of all the disappointments she has had to accept in her condition. However, because of this, how much more meaningful the experience when she sees Christ and all the limitations that held her back all these years are gone forever. What a joy that will be for her to once again feel her arms and legs. To walk, run and jump for joy and to be able to hug and walk hand in hand with her husband. Since I have always been able to do these things, when I see Christ it will not be quite meaningful in that sense as it will be to the ones who have suffered the most. The more one suffers the greater our joy when we see Christ!
#6: Finally, We can Rejoice in the Fact Regardless of How Great the Disappointment, God’s Grace is more than Sufficient to help Us Through it. God gives us comfort, encouragement and strength to weather the worst that life can throw at us! As Paul wrote,
2 Cor 12:7-10, "And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
In summary, disappointments and the way we handle them has everything to do with our understanding of why they come and what they mean to us as believers. I hope these facts will help you whether you are suffering disappointment presently or in the future. Let us not look at it as a defeat or a loss but rather as the gain that God will create from it.
Col 1:24-26, "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God"