I’m fairly safe in saying that you are going to be disappointed in something or someone this year. It’s inevitable that disappointment will come to you and me. People can disappoint us, and the circumstances of life will do the same.
We may even disappoint ourselves with our poor decisions or bad actions. Disappointments add up as we grow through our teenage years: lost friendships, sporting failures at high school, awards not won, romances gone sour. As adults our disappointments continue to chip away at us: frustrating jobs, crumbling marriages, unachieved goals, destructive habits, wayward children, lingering illness.
It’s almost as if disappointment is part of what it means to be human. Are you disappointed? I feel that most of our disappointment is rooted in ourselves. We look in the wrong places for contentment. Our vision is too small. We are too self-absorbed.
Attitudes that Lead to Disappointment
I am wondering if most of our disappointment stems from false attitudes we project on to our lives. The first reason we’re disappointed is because we look for happiness in the wrong places. We are not contented with what we have. We never count our blessings. We always want more. We want life to be more glamorous, more exciting, more fun. But no matter what we get, it’s not enough. We’re caught in a perpetual cycle of wanting more.
One of the great and important keys to living a fulfilling life and moving forward in life is being able to overcome disappointments in life. Disappointments can be a strong obstacle to letting go of the past and until you let go of the past, you cannot appreciate the present and get ready for the future. With feeling of disappointment hanging around you, you cannot take the appropriate step to move to the next level in life.
Disappointment is a hard pill to swallow. I heard of a girl at university who was talking about her relationship with her parents. She could handle anything her parents told her except hearing them say to her, We’re disappointed with you. Can you sense what’s behind that comment? Feelings of despair and being hurt by unfortunate comments like that. As parents we need to be careful in what we say to our children.
Sometimes we may feel disappointed with God, when he doesn’t respond to our prayers as we want or need. Someone has wisely said: When trouble comes, when disappointment breaks your heart, when sorrow grips your spirit, you have a choice: you can get bitter or you can get better. Or put another way: You can wallow in your disappointment or you can do something about it and begin to get well, to experience the joy and peace of life once again. It’s your choice.
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No-one is going to handle disappointment perfectly. Yes, we struggle sometimes to find our way through the great disappointments of our lives. Yes, we have to watch letting extreme guilt become a second burden in the midst of our disappointment. But there also comes a time when we have to decide whether we’re going to wallow in our disappointment or move on and get better.
Every one of us has a choice in the midst of our disappointment. We can wallow in self-pity or we can get up and get going. We can wallow in saying, If only or we can move on to saying, Now what? We can wallow in despair or we can reach out to God and others and receive the help that can move us onward and upward. The choice is our own to make. We can wallow in sadness or we can eagerly look for the blessings and joy of life that God can give us through Jesus in spite of our deep disappointment.
God Always Has a Plan B
Don’t let that disappointment keep you down. God always has a plan B. Nothing takes God by surprise. As you are going through that disappointment, God is putting together a come-back plan. Don’t get trapped in the past.
God is merciful and he will have mercy on you. Don’t allow the past disappointment to be a hang-up on your advancement. You can overcome disappointments. God says in Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV): “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing”
God is in the business of doing new things in our lives. God always has a back-up plan in order to get you to the final destination of his plan for your life. Sometimes we may miss God’s plan A due to our own foolish mistakes and the fault of other people. We at times get into serious disappointments due to the errors of other people. But God is not unmindful of that situation. He will take you to the next level using a plan B. Refuse to dwell on yesterday’s disappointments. Get up each morning knowing that God is a loving and forgiving God who has great things in store for you.
Back in 1920, a church examining board was meeting to select missionaries. Standing before the board was a young man named Oswald Smith. One dream dominated his heart: he wanted to be a missionary. Over and over again, he prayed, “Lord, I want to go as a missionary for you. Open a door of service for me.”
Now, at last, his prayer would be answered. When the examination was over, the board turned Oswald Smith down. He did not meet their qualifications. He failed the test. Oswald Smith had set his direction, but now life gave him a detour. What would he do? As Oswald Smith prayed, God planted another idea in his heart. If he could not go as a missionary, he would build a church which could send out missionaries.
And that is what he did. Oswald Smith pastored The People’s Church in Toronto, Canada, which sent out more missionaries than any other church at that time. Oswald Smith brought God into the situation, and God transformed his detour into a main thoroughfare of service. (Brian L. Harbour, Rising Above the Crowd)
Disappointment is part of life’s experience, but it is not the final word.