Monday, January 6, 2014

Dealing with Disappointment

Every person on the earth has something in common.  It doesn't matter our race, our gender, our background, our socioeconomic status or our religion; every single one of us have expectations of other people, ourselves and God.  And when life doesn't go as planned, some degree of disappointment is unavoidable.  But this inevitable emotional reaction to our unforseen circumstances can become a deadly poison in our life if we don't address it appropriately.  Disenchantment, if unaddressed, can soon become anger.

So the question is, when unmet expectations breed anger in our lives, how should we handle these overwhelming emotions?

First of all, let's look at a few characters in the Bible that dealt with disappointment:

JONAH--He was disappointed in God (Jonah 3-4)

Jonah didn't want anything to do with Nineveh, and yet, God called him to go there.  Nineveh was a well known enemy of Israel.  They were a cruel and unjust people that sought dominion over their enemies throughout the entire region and the Lord called Jonah to go there and bring them the hope of God.

Has God called you to love someone that's unlovable?  Has He called you to go somewhere you don't really want to go?  Has He called you to do something you're not real excited about doing?

MARTHA--Disappointed in Someone Else (Luke 10:38-42)

Martha was a very hospitable person and she demonstrated her generous and benevolent spirit in this text.  But when she called for her sister's help, she didn't receive any.  To top that off, in response to her plea, Jesus pointed out that Martha was worried and upset about many things, and He went on to say that there was only one thing that truly mattered.

Do you know what it's like to be upset by someone else?  No matter how hard you try or how hard you work, they always seem to land with their feet on the ground while you seemingly crash at every given opportunity.

JUDAS--Disappointed in Himself (Matt. 27:1-5)

According to Judas, what he did was unforgivable (v.5).  He indicated that he couldn't forgive himself and in response to his personal disappointment, he decided to hang himself.  Hear this… if you're angry with yourself because of past sins or mistakes, confess your shortcomings and remember that the Lord's love for you in unconditional.  There's nothing we can do to separate us from the love of God. (Rom. 8:39)

"I can't believe I did that!  …How could I have been so stupid?!?  …How could they ever forgive me?"  If you've ever said something like this, you know how Judas felt in that moment.  It seems like tomorrow will never come.  It seems as if grace from God and the forgiveness from others is a simple impossibility.  But the good news is, God is the master at taken broken people who are saturated in disappointment, and building them back up.  He's not finished with us yet!

With that being said…

1.  Be Honest with God

God already knows your heart, your hurts and your disappointments, but when you express them willingly, God has a way of providing His love, comfort and peace in a special and supernatural way. (1 Peter 5:7)

2.  Remember God's Promises

God is in complete control and He has the highest good in mind for you. (Rom. 8, Jer. 29)  Many times, we like to interpret Romans 8:28 in a way that says if one option doesn't work out, a better option will come along.  But from God's perspective, our character development--rather than our comfort and desires seem to be a top priority.

3.  New Day - New Goal

When the opportunity to fulfill a dream passes, have the courage to ask the Lord for a new dream or goal.  Proverbs 13:12 says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but the desire fulfilled is a tree of life."  Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish."  If you need a new vision for your life, ask the Father to give you one.

4.  Reaffirm your Belief in the Provision of God

Disappointments can serve as reminders to surrender to God and put our hope fully in Him.
What needs does God promise to meet in your life (Matt. 6:30-34)?
When God doesn't meet practical needs--such as money for bills or healing a sick body--what promises do we have (Phil. 4:11-13)?
What happens within us if we cast our cares and anxiety on the Lord (vv. 6-7)?

It's true… even in times of lacking and want, we can experience supernatural joy and peace as we place our trust in our Heavenly Father; who in turn wants the very best for His children.

5.  Look Forward

God never wants His kids to get stuck in the past--either regretting mistakes or missed opportunities.  In the same way, He doesn't want us always reminiscing about "the good old days" either.  You can't move forward until you've left the past in the past.

Why is it so important to "forget the former things" (Isa. 43:18-19)?
What things might God want us to recall about the past?
What new challenge or opportunity do you think the Lord wants you to focus on instead of dwelling on your disappointments?

When life takes a detour that you didn't see coming, understand that you don't have to respond in anger.  As you deal with your disappointment, ask God for fresh hope and a fresh vision from Him.  Ask Him to give you what you need in order to deal with your disappointment in a healthy and productive way.  That's a prayer He will be sure to answer.

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