Dealing with Disappointment

Richard Burgess, 31.05.2022

Doesn’t matter who we are, how old we are, where we are, everyone of us will have experienced disappointment at times – maybe you are right now. Things have not worked out as you expected, someone has let you down, you didn’t get the qualification you had worked so hard for, you didn’t get the job, you received a troubling diagnosis, lost someone close to you, some prayer seems to have gone unanswered, that word you had seems to have got lost somewhere. Disappointed with people, disappointed with God.

Philip Yancey says, “Disappointment with God does not come only in dramatic circumstances. For me, it also edge’s unexpectedly into the mundaneness of everyday life… I have found that petty disappointments tend to accumulate over time, undermining my faith with a lava flow of doubt. I start to wonder whether God cares about everyday details – about me. I’m tempted to pray less often, having concluded in advance that it won’t matter. Or will it? My emotions and my faith waver. Once those doubts seep in, I am even less prepared for times of major crisis.” Disappointment with God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988, 22,23.)

Moses, the man who would lead Israel out from Egyptian slavery, experienced disappointment. Following his first encounter with Pharaoh things got worse, not better, and the Israelites turned on him. He was cast down, dejected, wanted out from the commission God had called him to (Exodus:5:19-23).

We need to go to God. What did he do? He didn’t wallow in it. He turned to God and told him exactly how he felt (Ex 5:22,23). LORD why have you done this? Why did you send me? The outcome has been nothing but trouble! Disappointment not dealt with and recognised can lead to depression. Passivity is dangerous, a tool of the enemy. We need to stop, engage our will, take captive our thoughts, seek God, grieve if necessary.

We need to be real. Christianity is not about be religious and making sure you get all your words right. It’s about a relationship where we can be real and say it as it is. This is where the Psalms of lament are so helpful. J P Moreland, a theologian and philosopher, says, “expressing to God our honest feelings and beliefs is a good way to get things off our chest, stop stuffing our feelings, release anxiety, and begin a path toward a more intimate relationship with God.”

Welcome grace. Note, God does not come down on him like a ton of bricks. He doesn’t judge him or say, you right you’re not the person for the job. Like the tree they wanted to cut down in the New Testament because it wasn’t fruiting, judgement wasn’t the answer, digging round it, nourishing it was. God graciously hears him out and then encourages him and recommissions him (Exodus 6:1-11).

Allow God to restructure our thinking. Its like it had not bedded in, he had not fully understood God, his purposes or the way he works them out. Unchecked thought patterns can lay down neurological pathways, or ruts in our thinking from which it is difficult to get out. That’s why the renewing of our minds is so important.

Maybe you are experiencing disappointment with God. Be careful that your disappointment with God doesn’t become disappointment in God, that’s a dangerous place to be. Go to God, talk it out, wait on him, receive encouragement, allow God to restructure your thinking, and be recommissioned for his service.

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