We live in a world in which not everything happens exactly as we wish it would. Anyone that is capable of reading and understanding what I am writing has experienced some form of disappointment. Students are disappointed when they do not score as well as they would like to on an exam. Athletes are disappointed when they do not perform at the level which they desire to compete. Those seeking a particular job are disappointed when they are not hired. On the spiritual side, as Christians, our hearts are shattered when we see children of God turn away from the truth.
Regardless of whom we are, disappointment is a real emotion with which all of us must deal in life. I am not a psychologist, counselor, or heart expert of any kind. I would, however, like to offer some facts, reminders, and soul-searching questions for your consideration.
(1) God never promised that everything in life will go like we want it to go. For instance, Jesus told Simon that there would come a time when he would be carried where he did not wish to go (John 21:18). So goes life.
(2) Part of each person’s life on earth is facing trials and troubles (1 Peter 1:6,7). Disappointment can be a troublesome trial to face. Such a reality should serve as a reminder to us that, though disappointments may affect us while we live on this temporary planet, there is a place where there will be no disappointments. It is called “heaven.”
(3) We must keep our focus on the ultimate goal. Like Abraham, we are waiting for “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). We must not allow Satan to use life’s disappointments to distract us from our number one goal, which is to go be with the Lord forever!
(4) Remember, we are not the first ones to face disappointments. The Bible records troublesome, disappointing episodes in the lives of many of the godly men and women of history. Moses was disappointed with the Israelites. Samuel was disappointed in King Saul. Simon Peter was totally disappointed with himself when he denied his Lord. Yet, they all overcame such disappointments and served the Lord faithfully.
(5) As we struggle with various forms of disappointment, it is possible to learn some helpful lessons from such (even learn some things about our true character) and grow as a person as a result. Yes, the trying of our faith, including dealing with disappointment, works patience in those who maintain a healthy attitude throughout their season of disappointment (James 1:2,3).
(6) Sometimes closed doors turn us in a different direction and can actually turn out to be a blessing. Paul and those traveling with him were temporarily forbidden by the Godhead to preach in Asia and Bithynia. Instead, they got the call to go preach in Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10). What a blessing that was to the continent of Europe, as churches were established in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth. Such came about after doors were closed elsewhere. A disappointment was turned into joy and productive activity in the Lord’s Cause. Some friends of mine originally desired and planned to work in two different foreign nations spreading the gospel. In the end, both of those doors were closed. But, rather than dwell on their disappointment, they instead went to a third country and had a very productive work there. Satan wants to use disappointments to get us down. We may feel badly when things do not go as we had hoped, but we must pick ourselves up, move forward, and keep pressing on!
(7) If your heart is broken because something did not turn out as you had hoped, ask yourself this question: “In the big picture of things, is it really that big of a deal?” We have all seen small children have temper tantrums when they do not get the color of shoes they want, do not get to sit exactly where they want, or do not get to watch the show or video that they want. Sadly, some teenagers and adults, whose level of maturity ought to far exceed that of a toddler, “go wild” when their heart has to face disappointment. Many choose to wallow in self pity, trying to convince themselves and anyone else that will listen that they are the most pitiful people in the history of the human race. When we are tempted to mope around feeling sorry for ourselves, it would be a good idea to read Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice.” What makes this teaching even more powerful is that it was written by one (the apostle Paul) who was at that very hour of his life a prisoner in Rome. Imagine that, a confined, chained man encouraging folks “on the outside” to keep their chin up! Shame on us when we allow a minor, trivial, unimportant, insignificant matter to dominate our thoughts and attitude and keep us in a disappointed-and-down-hearted mode.
Disappointment is a real part of life. It is not, though, “the end of the world.” [To be continued]
— Roger D. Campbell
TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.