My heart ached for my friend who tearfully said, “I’m so disappointed.” She didn’t even have to tell me why; I just knew her spirit was crushed at that moment because something had gone wrong. I visited my daughter who, at age 38, had a stroke and is enduring an intense, laborious recovery. I see progress, but she sees disappointment. In the past two weeks alone, I have received email or calls from friends whose painful disappointments were impacting their ability to rise above the fear and frustration of their situations. In every case, they said, “Please pray that God will ….” And I prayed along with them that God would soothe their hurting spirit, renew their hope, and give them peace while they worked through their disappointments.
Have you experienced disappointments? One day is filled with excited anticipation of an event only to have it cancelled; a decision made after weeks of deliberation seemed perfect at the time, but has turned uncertain; a failed business; a broken relationship; lost opportunities; promises without intent to fulfill – disappointment! We all know how to define disappointments, but do we know how to prevent disappointment from defining us? When disappointment comes to us, how do we react? Sometimes the pierce of disappointment is so deep we feel like there’s a hole in our heart so deep we can’t breathe. David felt like that many times. I think that’s why he wrote so many Psalms that spoke about how he was feeling inside. Psalms 63:1 NKJV “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.” Psalms 94:19 NKJV “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.”
David knew that when disappointments came to him, he had to turn his cares, worries, and frustrations over to the One who knew his heart, and knew all about him, but loved him anyway. This scripture is from the New Testament, written long after David’s life had ended, but it’s timeless, unchanging and eternal. John 11:9 NKJV “Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.”
Disappointments are like pulling the shades down on a sunny day. We start the day with plans for a productive day with happy occasions and positive relationships. There is bright hope; life is good … and then something happens to put the day in shadows. This is the time to remember something Charles Swindoll said in his famous message about attitude. “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” When disappointment comes – and it will – be prepared! What tools can we use to prevent the descent into anxiety and depression when we are disappointed at life?
First, find things to be thankful for. Go back to yesterday and further back and recite. If you’re keeping a list of things you are thankful for, now is the time to grab that list and ingrain your brain with thankfulness. Second, what can you learn from this disappointment? How can your reaction transform this disappointment into something positive? I know some disappointments are so debilitating, thinking of anything positive seems impossible. But is there a glimmer of hope beyond the disappointment? When I’ve been disappointed, I try to project a positive action by doing something for someone else. Remember those pity parties. They are lonely and miserable and nobody wants to go.
Disappointment! It’s a fact of life. Will it make you bitter or make you better? Make it your aim to rise above disappointment and find joy. Hebrews 4:16 (KJV) “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”