Dealing with Disappointment

Dealing with DisappointmentHow did you picture the future when you were six, 10 or 14 years old?  It’s a good bet that that picture looks very little like your life today.   As we mature and our talents and interests grow and change, we realize that many of our former goals and desires have moved to the background or out of the picture altogether.  It’s easy to look back and laugh at how unrealistic or even silly some of them were.

But when it comes to a dream of marriage, you may be not laughing.  Perhaps you are 40 years old, unmarried, and wondering where God is.  Or your family makes you feel like you’re a failure because you’re not married.  Maybe the person you longed to marry turned his or her back on the relationship.  Or maybe you did get married, and are now wondering if you made the right choice.  Perhaps your marriage has ended because of unfaithfulness.

Whatever your situation, you aren’t alone.  Numerous godly people whose stories are told throughout the Bible struggled with disappointment or discontent when it came to marriage; in some cases, the problems related to a married couple’s inability to bear children.  Hannah, Sarah and Abraham all longed for a child.  In Judges 11:37-38, the daughter of Jephthah cried out to God when she realized that she would die without a husband.  Solomon, who had 700 wives, possessed vast riches and was considered to very wise, yet he struggled to overcome a lack of joy and eventually fell victim to the pagan influences of the women who surrounded him.

We realize, then, that no one is exempt from pain or difficulties in life.  Thousands of years later, how can we learn to deal with disappointment in our modern-day lives?

It’s helpful to understand what the word “disappoint” means.  The root of the word is “appoint” meaning “to decide on or ordain.”   Disappointment occurs when we don’t get something we have decided or ordained to be best for us.  Ultimately it’s a result of putting what we want above what God wants for us, and not trusting His wisdom and sovereignty.  A synonym is “discontent”—meaning that we are not happy with what God has provided.

We serve a great and wonderful God who loves us beyond all measure, who sees our tears and hears our prayerful longings and desires.  However, He is far more concerned with the impact on the rest of our life – and of eternity – than He is with meeting our need for immediate gratification.   We should be too.

We are called upon to place our faith in God in all our circumstances, good, fair or just plain awful.  Truly living our faith means that we choose to glorify and honor Him regardless of our circumstances, rather than dwelling on or mourning about what we do not have.

The apostle Paul, who was not married, said he had found the secret to contentment in all things.   What was it?  He reveals the secret to contentedness in Philippians 4:11-13:

“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

The secret is abiding in Christ. What a witness we are when we are able to reflect the contentedness found only in Christ to those around us!

To learn to abide, we must allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify us, being made holy before God.  As Romans 6:19 states, sanctification begins with “presenting your members as slaves to righteousness.”  Romans 12:1-2 goes on to say:

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Renewing our minds is key, and this is done through thinking and believing correctly. Philippians 4:8 tells us:

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Jesus fits this description perfectly (true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent and worthy of praise).  If we’re filling our minds with thoughts of Him, it takes our focus off of what we don’t have.

A.W. Tozer, in his book The Pursuit of God (highly recommended!), wrote, “Indeed, Jesus taught that He wrought His works by always keeping his inward eyes upon His Father. His power lay in His continuous look at God (John 5:19-21). … It is summed up for us in the Hebrew epistle when we are instructed to run life’s race ‘looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2). From all this we learn that faith is not a once-done act, but a continuous gaze of the heart at the Triune God.”

So tell me, where will your gaze be focused today?