Summary: Faith is a choice we have to make, even when life disappoints us. We can choose faith, or discouragement. The choice of faith is what God is pleased with, and responds to.
Life is not always easy. It’s not always fair, nor is it always kind. Life can take some twists and turns that we are simply not prepared for. And although we know that life can be cruel and disappointing, it seems that we are rarely ever prepared for things to go wrong. One of the facts of life is that things do go wrong. Not everything that comes our way in life will be good, easy, and pleasant.
Life’s journey is full of detours, delays, and downfalls. There are many disappointments along the way. And one thing that I’ve realized is that you never experience disappointment without expectation. If you were not expecting something, you would never be disappointed. So a definition of disappointment could be: A failure for conditions to meet our expectations. That’s true naturally, emotionally, financially, and even Spiritually.
We all can be, have been, and probably will be disappointed many, many times in life. Even as believers, we will face times when we find ourselves scaling the wall of disappointment, trying to get over life’s letdowns. The truth is that there are many times when things don’t go as we expect them to, or as we desire them to.
Sometimes those expectations are merely challenged, and at other times they are crushed. It’s hard for anyone to deal with disappointment, but I think there is an added struggle when disappointment comes to a believers’ life. That’s because of the enormous hope that we have in Christ.
We are taught to have great faith, to hope in God, to believe big things - to ignore the notions of impossibilities. There is nothing impossible with God. And so that becomes our faith, and our focus. And when that which we’re believing doesn’t occur, it can become our pitfall. We’re then facing disappointment head on.
And the disappointments that we face as believers are sometimes greater than those experienced by unbelievers, because our hope is so much greater. *The greater your faith, the greater your disappointment is if that thing you‘re believing for doesn‘t happen. Or if it doesn’t happen when you were expecting it to happen. That’s not to say that our faith is always disappointed. But we don’t need any help when our expectations are met, and our faith is fulfilled. We need help when conditions fail to meet our faith.
And disappointment can lead to discouragement. *The two differ in this way: Disappointment is when your expectations are not met. Discouragement is when you fail to expect anything else. Disappointment comes when conditions fail to meet your expectations. Discouragement is when your disappointments cause you to not expect anything else. We have all been disappointed. We will constantly have to deal with disappointment, because things in this life will not always go the way we want them to go.
What we must guard against, though, is that we not let that disappointment lead to discouragement, where we don’t maintain any expectation of anything else positive coming our way. Discouragement is when we lack the courage to believe again. We simply cannot let that happen.
We need to know how to deal with disappointment and discouragement. The good news is that neither of the two leaves you in an irrecoverable position. You can get over both of them. Neither one of them has to be completely debilitating. Even if disappointment leads to discouragement, and you’re having trouble believing again, the good news is that discouragement doesn’t have to stay. It does not have to become a permanent part of your existence.
I believe that you need to be encouraged, knowing that discouragement is only to be a seasonal struggle. It does not have to dominate your life. It may come into your life, but it never has to remain as a part of your life. You can recover from disappointment, and from discouragement. You may feel like you can’t, but you can believe again, you can hope again, and faith can arise from the ashes of your despair.
I want us to look, first of all, at some facts about discouragement. I believe that even taking a closer look at it, and trying to identify and comprehend its consequences, we can get a better understanding about it. And when we begin to understand it, we begin to recognize why we must deal with it. The truth is, we don’t deal with anything usually, unless we see the absolute need. That’s what we need to see with discouragement. So let’s begin.
FACT ONE: Everyone deals with discouragement.
We all have times when our faith is crushed. We’ve stretched ourselves to believe for something, and then it doesn’t happen, and we’re left with stretch marks on our soul. We’re marked, not by fulfillment of our faith, but by the disappointment of our faith. We stretched, believing something was within our grasp, within our reach, and right when we thought we had it, it was gone. We were disappointed.