Disappointed? What are you going to do about it?
How do you deal with disappointment?
Disappointment comes to all of us. No one is immune. It started at a very early age. As some point in your childhood you were disappointed. Your expectations or wants were not met, and you cried. The pain of disappointment broke your heart and you were sad, and the sadness brought tears. For most of us that early disappointment was tied to our parents. We expected or wanted something from them and they let us down, at least that is the way it felt. Dad was working and missed your ball game. Mom was busy and did not share your excitement about something you did. Although you desperately wanted a puppy your parents said "no". And not understanding the economic realities, you were disappointed to the point of anger. For some of us, the early disappointment was even received as rejection of who we are.
In that moment, the pattern was laid for destruction. We began to self destruct because we felt unloved. Or, perhaps we began to destroy others to make them feel the same way we felt. Or, maybe it was both.
It sounds horrible, and it is. But, it is not the way things have to be or even should be. God uses and even designs disappointments to purify and strengthen us. Look at what the Psalmist said in Psalm 66:10-12:
For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins. You made men ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water, yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.
In As Silver Refined Kay Arthur commented:
“This image of refinement is something God touches on again and again in His Word. He is the true Refiner, We are His silver. And the fire is the fire of His making, for through His fire our Refiner will perfect an awesome work, a divine work.“
Although God uses difficulties and disappointments in this life to refine us and make us as pure silver ready for the Masters table, the enemy of your soul will use the same circumstances to try to destroy you.
In Luke 22 Jesus is only a few hours from His arrest and ultimately His crucifixion. Peter declares his loyalty to Jesus even up to prison or death. Jesus lets Peter know it is not going to happen that way.
I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.” - Luke 22:34
In other words, Peter, you are about to be severly disappointed. You are not going to respond the way you thought you would. But Jesus also gave Peter, and us, insight into the battle just a few verses before.
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. - Luke 22:31–32
Satan intended to destroy Peter by sifting him like wheat. In this context it means using Peter's denial of Christ to disappoint and demoralize him, ultimately rendering Peter ineffective for ministry. Jesus on the other hand is interceding for Peter and tells him to use his failure as a pivot point to turn and strengthen others. In other words, what Satan intended for destruction, God used to strengthen Peter - who in turned strengthened others.
The battle ground is the mind. How I perceive or receive the circumstances around me determines my disappointment level. With that said let’s look briefly at where disappointment leads and how the enemy uses it to destroy you.
- Disappointment becomes discouragement
As I allow myself to focus on what might have been or should have been, disappointment leads to discouragement. Discouragement means literally no courage. Our English word courage comes from the Latin word for heart. To be discouraged is, to lose heart. When we lose heart we give up.
- Discouragement becomes Dejection
Dejection is a lowness of spirit, like emotional or spiritual fatigue. It makes it hard to go on because I feel tired, worn out. You begin to feel like you are just not up for the struggle or just not strong enough to do anything about the circumstances.
- Dejection becomes Despair
To despair is to lose hope. You are dejected and begin to think “What’s the point? Why bother? Nothing is going to change.” And that my friend is despair, it is when you have lost hope.
- Despair becomes Demoralization
When someone is demoralized they feel like they have nothing left. The derivation of the word goes back to the idea of removing the morals from someone. It sounds odd in our modern use of English, but is carries the idea of nothing left to stand for. Demoralized troops have no fight left in them. There seems to be no chance of winning, therefore there is nothing left to stand for, nothing left to fight for.
Does this describe you? It shouldn’t it. This is the tactic of the enemy and it is demonic. How do we fight it? How do we step back, breathe, and re-engage? Well, it is not easy, but it can be done. However, it is not by your power or your might, but by His Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).
God does not want us to live in this way. But in order to overcome disappointment we must learn and apply some very simple principles:
- Respond by going to God in prayer.
- Refocus by focusing on God not the circumstances.
- Rehearse what we know about God and His Word, in our mind (or verbally if necessary).
- Rest by trusting God in the circumstance.
Jesus' original disciples knew disappointment. They were following the Son of Man, the Messiah. They expected to see the kingdom ushered in. They did see it, but not in the way they expected. They did not understand that God’s perspective was radically different than their own.
They were about to be severely tested and greatly disappointed. Their situation was not going to turn out as they had hoped and expected. There would be a crucifixion not a coronation. But, we know from this side of the cross that God was at work accomplishing our redemption. It may have been hard to see at the time, but looking back 2000 years it is obvious that it was the only way.
When dealing with disappointment, perspective helps. Our hurt and confusion can be overwhelming at the moment, but keep your heart and mind staid on Him, because His perspective is radically different than ours.
Wrapping it up
In terms of discipleship a blog post doesn't go very far. At best a post is only a reminder of truth you already knew or a teaser about truth you would like to know more about. To go farther, to learn more, to really wrestle with the truth of the sovereignty of God in the disappointments of life you need to study. If you would like to learn more about seeing disappointments as His appointments Kay Arthur's book, As Silver Refined, is a great place to start!