Summary: All Christians can find renewed hope in times of disappointment by 1)keeping an eternal focus, 2)cast your anxiety upon the Lord, 3)be self-controlled and resist the devil, and 4)offer a sacrifice of praise.
If there is anything I’ve learned in my years working as a pastor it is that things don’t always go the way we think they should go. I’ve been witness to more tragic stories than I wish – and the truth is, life is hard. God has chosen to use people just like us to be his ambassadors on this earth. And because of that we are often found in a place with our hopes and expectations not being met by the reality of our circumstances. This can happen when a loved one dies, or a relationship crumbles, or a friend abandons us, or our prayers are not answered. Sooner or later it happens to all of us.
In the face of this reality we all have a few choices as to how we will respond when we’re disappointed.
1. We can shake our fist at God and lose faith in Him, since he does not stop bad things from happening.
2. We can spout religious sounding clichés which mask our confusion and our pain.
3. We can simply quietly withdraw and slowly watch our faith diminish.
4. We can acknowledge the pain we’re in and yet keep on working for God’s Kingdom.
Obviously I hope you will take the 4th option.
It’s what I’m learning to do. I’d like to share with you four scriptures that help me know what to do when I’m feeling disappointed in people, circumstance, or even God. It is my hope that they will help you, too.
How can you deal with disappointments?
1. Focus on eternal things. (2 Cor. 4:16-18)
2Cor. 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
There is a tendency when things don’t go our way to feel like this crisis or this circumstance will never change – or that it is much bigger than it really is.
ILLUS: As a parent, my kids often get upset by things that I know in just a few moments will not matter anymore. They will forget about it completely and move on. They just can’t see that themselves – because they haven’t matured.
One of the things that happens as we mature in Christ is that when our prayers are not answered or God doesn’t stop some tragedy from unfolding, we are able to step back from the situation and realize it is a temporary situation. Everything we face in this mortal life is, as Paul describes it, “light and momentary” in the face of eternity.
This is not meant to invalidate the pain we feel in the moment – but it helps us when we realize God is still on His throne. That he has seen many millions of people through similar times of discouragement over the past thousands of years.
So when you’re disappointed, remember to step back and keep your focus on the eternal, unchanging things of God.
TRANS: 1 Peter 5 gives us some more help in what to do when we face disappointments. The first thing we learn comes from verse 7…
2. Cast your cares upon the Lord. (1 Peter 5:7)
1Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
When you receive bad news that brings on disappointment, you might feel a mixture of shock, sadness, disappointment, fear, maybe even anger or bitterness. Whatever you feel, I want to encourage you to cast it upon the Lord. (throw it at him like when you cast a fishing line)
At times when I’m mad at people or even mad at God you know what I do? I tell God about it. “God – why did this have to happen? This really stinks. How could you let it happen? I’m feeling really mad (or sad or disappointed or whatever).”
Don’t just pretend everything is OK. Don’t settle for using Christian clichés (unless they are really helpful to you). Don’t act as if you’re not bothered if you really are.
God is big enough to take it. And he wants to hear the cries of our hearts. The honest cries of our hearts.
Eccl 3:1-4 says:
Eccl. 3:1-4 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…