Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Dealing with disappointments is part of life for all of us. No exceptions. They can be large or small, come in all shapes and sizes, and most of them come and go without too much problem.
If there’s a movie we’d like to watch and it’s left the theatre, we can wait until it’s out on DVD—it’s not all that important. When we’re young our disappointment can be something as simple as not getting invited to a birthday party. But, of course, at that age it can be a big disappointment.
As we grow older they change in their perspective. Setbacks can’t be avoided. And yet it seems to me that so many people struggle with this issue and allow disappointments to ruin their life and sometimes they suffer as a result. Some people I know have had multiple disappointments and it hits them very hard. They ask, Why me?
Disappointments Are Not Final
Having a look at the Christian faith for a few minutes will help us remember that, with God, even disappointments are not final. There are many verses in the Bible that encourage us to keep going even when we feel like giving up or withdrawing because of some big disappointment.
Believe it or not, dealing with the let-downs of life can open new ways of finding hope, especially as we invite God to be part of that journey with us. We can always rely on him for support, love and divine guidance because he understands and wants to assist us work through the issues, if only we’d ask. It’s a funny thing that having faith in him enables us to more effectively deal with the shortcomings of life.
In the Walt Disney movie The Sword in the Stone, we meet up with Merlin the Magician and King Arthur. Merlin likes to teach young Arthur some lessons through songs. One of the songs says, “to and fro, back and forth, that’s what makes the world go round”. What he was trying to say is that the ups-and-downs of life are with everyone, and for each step forward there will be one step backwards.
I’ve heard people say, Life is like taking two steps forward and five backwards. Setbacks face everyone. I read somewhere that “being challenged in life is inevitable—being defeated is optional”. You have a choice of allowing disappointments defeat you or allowing something positive to come out of it. We have plans and goals and sometimes these things come to realisation, and sometimes they don’t.
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I heard of the little girl who was asked, What is a string bag? She thought about it for a moment and said, A string bag is a lot of holes joined together with string. Disappointment is a bit like that—a lot of sad events joined together with some success, or success joined together with a lot of disappointment. You might have had your fair share of disappointment and feel like ‘throwing in the towel’.
Coping with Life’s Disappointments
Maybe it’s been a divorce, moving away from family or close friends, chronic health problems, or loss of a job. Or you’ve watched as your dreams crashed and someone you loved let you down. You may have left school early failing important exams, missing out on a good quality education. Or not taking up a particular job offer when you should, and now all you have is lots of regrets. Some disappointments are so huge they never seem to go away.
Life is like a river that keeps flowing regardless of the obstacles in its path. Don’t stay trapped. Acknowledge the trouble, give it space, acknowledge the Lord and pick yourself up.
Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a book called Overcoming Life’s Disappointments, his 10th book on how to cope with life. Here’s part of what he says:
I have known too many people who could not enjoy the last third of their lives because the first two-thirds did not turn out the way they had hoped, and they were angry at God. How does a person get over the bitterness, that sense of being cheated by life? The answer, I believe, involves a delicate balance of remembering and forgetting.
Then Kushner says, “Life is tough—let’s be strong enough not to be broken by it”.
It seems to remind me that we live in a world that is not predictable and automatic. Sometimes our finest hopes just do not eventuate and we can pray and pray, but it doesn’t seem to change the outcome.
(To be continued in Are You Disappointed? – Part 2)