Have you ever been disappointed? I know—what a ridiculous question! Remember Benjamin Franklin’s version of a popular idiom? “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, we can also add disappointments. Even as followers of Christ, we are not immune to discouragement because of unmet expectations. But there is hope. We have a sovereign God who is in absolute control of every aspect of our lives—even our disappointments. The Christian axiom still rings true: “Our disappointments are God’s appointments.”
Here are three truths from God’s Word that help us cope with disappointment.
You’re Not Forsaken
There is no doubt that not having expectations met can leave you discouraged. What you need to know is that you are not forsaken by God. Just before Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land, Moses offered this encouragement. “And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8). The fact that the Lord will never forsake His own is stated multiple times throughout the Bible. This thought should serve as a solid foundation when facing discouragement due to disappointments.
All that has happened, all that is happening, and all that will happen is according to God’s perfect love and plan.
Here’s a thought to hang on to: All that has happened, all that is happening, and all that will happen is according to God’s perfect love and plan. “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” (Romans 8:28). Notice that the verse does not say “all things that are good;” rather it clearly says, “all things work together for good.” “All things” include all circumstances that don’t go the way we want. Seal this promise in your heart: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
We’re Only Human
Alexander Pope (1688–1744), famed English poet known for his sarcasm of human nature, once wrote, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” What a comforting life view—in an unreal world. Consider Jesus’ view about human nature. It can be seen at an incident when He was in Jerusalem for the Passover. “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man” (John 2:23–25). Due to the many signs He did, many people believed on Him.
However, this did not mean that they placed saving faith in Him as the Son of God. Often the people who observed His miracles viewed Him as a prophet, but they were not always willing to acknowledge Him as their savior, the promised Messiah. Jesus knew the nature of human beings. What we see and experience in others we should also see in ourselves. That should not be so hard; after all, we are all plagued with a sinful nature living in a wicked world. People will fail us and circumstances might not always work out as expected. Jesus “knew what was in man.” So, recognize the true nature of man, including ourselves. Disappointments are a fact due to our human frailties. We like to think that we control and direct all aspects of our lives. Here’s a news flash—God may have other plans! “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Keeping all this in mind will save you a lot of grief.
Keep the Faith
The essential element in facing disappointments is holding an earnest faith in the Lord. “Trust in the Lᴏʀᴅ with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Remember the biblical admonition in all your plans and hopes: “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” (James 4:15). Pastor Charles Stanley offered this encouragement: “Our heavenly Father understands our disappointment, suffering, pain, fear, and doubt. He is always there to encourage our hearts and help us understand that He’s sufficient for all of our needs. When I accepted this as an absolute truth in my life, I found that my worrying stopped.”
Disappointments sometimes can be devastating. Our natural tendency is to be so overwhelmed that we lock God out. Don’t do that! Be confident, you are not forsaken (Philippians 4:19). Mankind is not perfect (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Always believe God knows what is best for your life (Jeremiah 29:11).