Dealing with Disappointment

Everyone faces it. We all get different exams results to the ones we hoped for, or we’ve all had friends who let us down and we’ve all had to cope with unanswered prayer. Disappointment comes to us all, in various forms, and the question is, how do we as Christians seeking God’s glory deal with the unexpected turns in life?
I won’t pretend for a moment that there is a quick and easy method to “snapping out” of sadness and pain. I cannot say that in my own life a special prayer or verse has magically taken away the disappointment. The Bible is very clear that trials do come (e.g. 1 Peter 4:12). The Christian life is not a picnic. But allow me to give you a few tips that I have discovered on dealing with disappointment.
Once I was so upset with the way things were going in my life that I stopped reading the Bible and praying regularly. I neglected daily devotions and this was a mistake. Not only did I feel alone and distant from God, but I also had no scriptural encouragement or comfort. Whatever happens, keep reading God’s word! The Psalms are so full of praise to God and words of encouragement, peace and the heart-felt anguish of a man who faced great disappointment. Some Christians think that we have to be totally Stoic and cannot have any emotions or betray our feelings. But friends; disappointment is not a sin! Christ himself wept; feeling pain and disappointment. Feeling sad is allowed, but rejecting God’s Word is not.
Prayer is another answer to dealing with disappointment. 1 Peter 5:7 says to “Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” God is faithful and He will sustain you. As Elizabeth George reminds us, “Go on, knowing that God is still on His throne, He is still in control, He is still sovereign, He is still all-powerful and He is still able and always will be...He promises it!” How encouraging! Like the old hymn says, “O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer!” Psalm 34:19 tells us, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”
Another tip I can offer is looking out for lessons. Although this doesn’t help take away your discouragement, it gives a different perspective to the trials in life. Ask yourself, “What is God trying to teach me in this?” or “What corner is God trying to rub off me?”. Some of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt have come through hardships. One example is when our family was living in temporary accommodation between jobs and we had no clue where we would go next. I was worried about it, but I learnt to fully rely on God and abide in Him that year. Look for the valuable lessons to be learnt.
Finally, don’t forget to thank God for all the blessings that we have got. Think for just a moment about all of your blessings, write them down if necessary, but don’t take for granted what God does. Psalm 66:5 encourages us with these words, “Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing towards the sons of men.”

By Elspeth McLachlan

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  1. Thanks for the encouraging article Elspeth!
    There are so many ways of becoming discouraged; temptation, the worldliness around us, everything seemingly going wrong, lack of direction with regard to the future, etc. I think one way of it coming about is when we start to become self confident, and we seem to be getting on ok so we stop relying on Christ, and then when something comes along, we cant handle it, becuase we are no longer looking to our sovereign God!
    I like what you said about remembering to thank the Lord! Whatever situation we are in, we have much to praise Him for: Psalm 107 wonderfully expresses God's deliverance from distress, and finishes with 'Whoso is wise, and will observe these things,[Gods deliverances and mercies] even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.'
    How wonderful that we have a sovereign God!
    May we be able to say with Job, "Though He slay me, yet will i trust him..."

  2. Hi! You left a comment on my blog to come and look at your blog. I really enjoyed reading the articles! Some of them were quite helpful to me at this point in my life! I will be coming back to visit and comment on this blog often!! Do you mind if I add it to my blog roll? please comment back on my blog if it's o.k. :)

    age 14 from Indiana.... I am a Fundamental Baptist... and PROUD!!

  3. David van den Broek17 November 2009 at 22:48

    Elspeth, thanks for your work on this and your helpful comments, I was thinking about this today in the light of some sermons I have been listening to on Faith.

    If faith is about operating on the basis of what God has told us is true (even when we can't see it) and what he has promised (even when it hasn't happened) (Hebrews 11v1), then could it be true that the more that we are sanctified (made faithful) the less we will suffer disappointment? Because we will always have our eyes wide open to see what the Lord is doing?

    This would reinforce your point about needing to go to God’s word when we experience disappointment because we know God better through his word and the better we know him the less frustrated we will be when he does things differently to how we would expect.

  4. I have a question - you said in your article that the Christian life is not a picnic. If God loves Christians then why does he make their life hard - if I love someone I would always try to do what is best for them not what is hardest for them?

  5. Thank you all for your comments.

    Philip and David you made some good points, which were very good to think about. Stephany it is great that you want to add Walking Worthy to your blog-roll, please do!

    About the last question, though. The Bible has many verses on trials, and we are told that we are to expect them. (John 16:33)

    One verse that especially springs to mind is James 1:2 which says, "My brethren count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience."

    Jesus also tells us that "He who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me." Matt.10:38

    Also the Romans 5 passage which says that tribulations produce perseverance, hope and character. We are also to "glory in our tribulations.

    These are just a few that I can think of now (I have to go!), can anyone else think of anymore?


  6. ...The beginnings of a good discussion guys! Everybody knows that really really excellent passage in Hebrews (chapter 12) which begins; "Therefore since we have been surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses...etc.". This passage, after commanding us to devote every ligament in our bodies to God's service, goes on to speak about the chastisement/ discipline of God in this way: "(Heb 12:5-11) And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

    This is a passage (like so many in the Bible) that is full of really rich and rewarding encouragement/ challenge and consequently I really heartily suggest that you go away and read the whole chapter.

    My basic point, beyond bringing up this passage is that the trials that we receive, as God's children, from God are a form of dicipline much of the time in that they often are the result of our stupid mistakes. But these are a blessing from God. We should regard these trials rightly in seeing that 1. They are sent by God. 2. They are given to us so as to cultivate our faith.

    The end of some of my two pennies worth and over to somebody else to add something else in....!

  7. David van den Broek19 November 2009 at 21:54

    Thanks for the above; so God sends trials to discipline us...

    So let's take a step back, why is that God chooses to use pain to develope us? I mean it's a big question -and most of our world revolts at the idea of pain as possitive in any way.

    I suppose at one level the fact that God chooses to do something makes it right, but there must be a reason why He chooses to do things in this seemingly contradictory way (using the negative to bring about the positive).

    What do you think?

  8. Samuel van den Broek20 November 2009 at 09:19

    A very good question David!
    As Paul says in Romans 8:28; "we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." So we can have the assurance that God has a purpose in even the seemingly contradictory trials, and that it is for his glory and are perfection.

    Hope this helps and I am sure some one will be able to cast more light on it!!!

  9. Since we're talking about trials now, here is a quote i found to be excellent, from the letters of Samuel Rutherford (Which are, in fact, excellent).

    'Now it is God’s special blessing to Judah, that He will not let her find her paths in following her strange lovers. “Therefore, behold I will hedge up her way with thorns, and make a wall that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them” (Hos. ii. 6,7). O thrice happy Judah, when God buildeth a double stone wall betwixt herand the fire of hell! The world, and the things of the world, Madam, is the lover ye naturally affect beside your own husband Christ. The hedge of thorns and the wall which God buildeth in your way, to hinder you from this lover, is the thorny hedge of daily grief, loss of children, weakness of body, iniquity of the time, uncertainty of estate, lack of worldly comfort, fear of God’s anger for old unrepented-of sins.
    What lose ye, if God twist and plait the hedge daily thicker?
    God be blessed, the Lord will not let you find your paths. Return to your first husband.'

  10. Well, well Phil - and what doth that mean?

  11. I agree.. God does bring things into our lives that we call "trials" There are two ways we can look at it... That God is just giving this to us to give us another burden to carry.... or that God never gives us what we can't handle and wants us to use this "trial" to mold us and shape us into better christians. I think we need to all make it our goal to look at it in the positive way. :) I don't know about any of you, but I'd like to become a better christian. Yeah trials hurt, but God knows best!

  12. It is an interesting twist that Samuel Rutherford puts on trails! That would mean that the trials that Christians experience are put there to bring them closer to God and away from temptation. This makes sense in conjunction with trails develop faith and faith is essential to the Christian life and to a knowledge of God.

    I have a question that has been bothering for a bit; can this theology of trails apply to a certain degree also to temptation. The trials that we experience are for the most part a result of our own sinful actions (as Thomas said)but not always. Would it also be valid to say that God (who is in control over absolutely everything) allows us to fall into temptation and sin so that we may in repenting and coming to Christ for forgiveness have our faith increased? Anyone know the answer with a Biblical passage or principle?

  13. Becsy, sorry if it wasnt clear! Its was an extract from a letter to someone going through trials. Anyway, what S.R's saying is, that the walls and hedge of thorns (trials) are a blessing from the Lord, as they drive us to him and bar our way from loving the world. When he says 'Return to your first husband' it simply means Christ (as refered to in sentence 5)(see Isaiah 54:5). Hope that makes sense!

    Stepheny, thanks for the thoughts! Do you think that God gives us what we can handle, or do you think he gives us grace at the same time, to be able to handle it?

  14. Just a few thoughts on trials and temptations: in James chapter 1, trials are described as something we fall into; something we have no control over but which come upon us from outside, while temptations arise from within us, from our own desires. God may send trials for our good, but he never tempts us to sin. He may allow us to be tempted, but he will always provide a way of escape from temptation.
    Whatever trial we are going through, whether from outward persecution and sufferings, or from inward temptations (remember, temptation is not sin), God has promised to strengthen us to persevere through it. See 1 Corinthians 10 v 13, Hebrews 4 v 14-16 and Romans 8 v 35-37. So if we do fall into sin, it is entirely our own fault and not because God has led us there – we can’t continue in sin just so that grace may abound (Romans 6 v 1-2).

    I realise that this is not a conclusive answer to your question, Jonathan, but hopefully it provides something to build on.

  15. Philip..

    yes... I deffinetley think He gives us grace to handle it at the same time! Thanks for pointing that out!



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