How many times have you used what you learned in chemistry or algebra in real life since you left school? None? Yeah, me too. Now, how many times have you experienced disappointment or failure in life? A lot? Yeah, me too. It seems to be a part of life that we can’t avoid so it sure would have been handy to have some teaching on that subject.
Instead, most of us have probably learned about disappointment through what they call the school of hard knocks. Yeah, I’m singing It’s a Hard Knock Life from Annie in my head too right now. “'Stead of treated, We get tricked, 'Stead of kisses, We get kicked, It's the hard-knock life, Don't it feel like the wind is always howl'n? Don't it seem like there's never any light! Once a day, don't you wanna throw the towel in? It's easier than puttin' up a fight.”
One difference between overly stressed people and others is the way they handle the disappointment. Disappointment that isn’t handled well can even become depression.
Disappointment comes in all shapes and sizes. There is disappointment in ourselves for how we handled a situation, how we fell into sin again, how we look or how we didn’t stand up for ourselves. Then there is disappointment in others that didn’t stay loyal, they didn’t invite us, they made poor decisions. And there is disappointment in things like the job that you thought was going to be awesome turning out to be not that great, the haircut you got or the quality of the item you bought online. We really seem to be able to find disappointment in every area of life, don’t we?
Disappointment happens when real life doesn’t line up with our expectations. Someone once said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”
Sometimes we have realistic, appropriate expectations such as having a spouse stay faithful to us and yet they disappoint us. Other times we have unrealistic expectations such as thinking that we should be good at everything and then get disappointed when we flop on our face trying something new.
Now you feel sad, frustrated, angry or maybe even apathy. Repeated disappointment in life can lead a person to lower their expectations so they won’t get hurt again but that only leads to a mediocre and unfulfilled life. Disappointment breeds pessimism, where you start to believe the worst will always happen. It also leads to impulsive decisions or knee jerk reactions because you feel it doesn’t matter anymore. Our challenge will be to not let bitterness take root from our disappointment.
So, how can you handle disappointment when it comes your way so it doesn’t turn into stress and depression?
When you read the Bible, it is full of real people that had many disappointments in their lives. I’m thinking of Abraham being disappointed that Sarah isn’t pregnant yet as God had said, so he took matters into his own hands and that didn’t turn out so well did it? And yet, God still gave Him Isaac.
I’m thinking of Joseph who must have been disappointed when he was thrown in prison for something he didn’t do and yet he remained faithful to God and ended up promoted to second in the land.
I’m thinking of David who must have been disappointed in himself for his affair with Bathsheba and yet God used him mightily and said he was a man after His own heart.
Disappointment is not the end even when it feels like it at the time. In fact, it might just turn out that God has something better for you. I remember I was really disappointed that we didn't get a house that we had put an offer on, but in the end I ended up with an even better house!
Like any good parent, God has compassion for you when you are disappointed but He doesn’t let you wallow there. When you invite Him into the situation, He'll bring answers, restore hope and He'll bring peace.
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