We’ve all experienced disappointment at some point in our lives. Any time we hope for something to happen a certain way, and it doesn’t, we are often overcome with that dismay that seems to come so easily to us.
This may sound somewhat trivial when it is put like this, but the bitter taste of disappointment can be a crushing thing to feel at that moment.
Maybe it’s a college you’ve always dreamed of going to, and you’ve been praying to God for so long, thanking Him for this opportunity. You’re going to show Him that His answer to your prayer will be well worth it.
You wait every day for that answer back from your application. Then the days turn into weeks. The weeks turn into months. There’s still no reply in your inbox, or through your letterbox.
And you start to think, ‘Did they not see me?’ ‘Did they not want me?’ ‘Did I make a mistake?’
Perhaps you have applied for a new job. You’re a hard worker. You’re good at what you do. Not only that, but you know that you’d be perfect for that role. It’s an opportunity that can’t be passed up. So you make sure you’re prepared for everything. Your résumé is immaculate. Your cover letter is perfect.
You have a glowing reference that can show your hopeful employer that you are the best fit for what they’re looking for. You send off your application, hoping and praying to God that they see it, that they’ll consider you. But not only do they not get back to you.
They don’t even bother to respond to you a response. Leaving you wondering where you went wrong.
Of course, disappointment is not just a professional problem. Perhaps a loved one has done something. You didn’t they were capable of doing something so hurtful, something that would shatter your trust in them, not just your faith in them, but destroying that trust that made you think that you understood them in some way.
It is a terrible thing to have to consider, that a member of the family, a friend, a loved one, can betray you like that? Did they mean to do it? Was it an accident? Did they even know you that well, if they didn’t think how what they did might make you feel? Was there something you could have done to change what happened?
It can feel like disappointment is built into us, something that is impossible to escape from, and it is pointless to even try and deal with it.
But, we should not let ourselves become stuck in this way of thinking. Yes, we will all face some kind of disappointment at some point in our lives, that much is true. To try and avoid disappointment is to waste the greatest gift God has given us: The gift of life.
But that doesn’t mean God hasn’t given us the tools to combat this dreadful part of ourselves. We just need to know what we are fighting against.
What is Disappointment?
Disappointment can seem like it is something that happens between two people or parties. A lot of definitions we use in our day-to-day lives certainly seems to reflect that, with Merriam-Webster stating that it can be defined as ‘One that disappoints’, implying it is something that others cause to happen in you.
However, Merriam-Webster also goes on to say that disappointment is ‘the act or an instance of disappointing: the state or emotion of being disappointed’.
What this tells us is that disappointment is as much something that you can happen within yourself, something you low to affect your own state of mind, as it is what others do to cause that feeling.
Allowing yourself to wallow in that state of disappointment because of the actions of another, is only a recipe for disaster. Disappointment in a situation or a person is incredibly discouraging.
It can often mean your faith in yourself is brought into question, and if you start to lose faith in yourself, that loss of faith can bleed into anything. Even God. It can lead you to feel like you have lost His love.
But God has not left us clueless about what to do to deal with this very real problem we all face. He has given us a few handy guides for dealing with disappointment. And many of them can be found in the Bible.
Verses About Disappointment In The Bible
In this verse, we see God commune with Jeremiah about moving his
‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’
There are a few messages being told to us through this passage. For one, it feels like this order comes unexpectedly, as disappointment so frequently feels like it does. From that, we can see that is an allegory for this feeling as much as it is God telling Jeremiah what to do.
We can also see it as God making a promise to Jeremiah. That even at this point, when it seems like doing this would be a disaster for Jeremiah and his people, God is promising that it is part of his plan for them, even if it doesn’t look that way to start with.
But even then, there is another layer of the context within it. Remember, this part of a letter Jeremiah sends to his exiled Hebrew people in the Kingdom of Babylon. Technically, it is a second-hand account of this interaction.
That might seem like it takes something away from the original message. But in fact, when viewed in another way, it is an important lesson in both faith and viewing the decisions of others.
It is asking us to consider that, even if another person’s message or decision seems odd at first, even dangerous or hurtful, that there are almost always reasons for a person to do what they have done. In this case, it is a good reason that will pay off in the future. Sometimes, it is not as clear.
But how we respond to those reasons is important. Even if we do not understand, not allowing ourselves to be blinded with disappointment can allow us to see another’s actions clearer, which will allow us to understand them better.
These verses are Isaiah talking about the Israelite’s exile in Babylon after many had been taken captive from the Kingdom of Judah.
‘Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’
For this verse, we have to consider the context that the work is written in to see what it is trying to say about disappointment and disillusionment. After many had been taken prisoners and made slaves in Babylon, disappointment at their new circumstances would have been like a plague among the Jewish people.
But what Isaiah is saying here is both a discussion on why you need to keep the faith, to not let this destroy their spirits, but also acts as a reminder. Yes, disappointment can be crushing, and it can mean the end of the hopes we had before. And it can seem like there is no way out of it.
But we must remember that disappointment, much like the people that bring it to us or cause it to fill us, is temporary. Eventually, whatever situation led to our current crisis is will not stay forever. They will pass in their own time.
There is only one thing truly permanent in the world, and that is God. His plan goes way beyond just this blink in time. It was made years before this moment was even on the horizon.
So long as we keep moving, trying to do what we can with what we have, then God’s plan will beat any moment when disappointment gets a brief win over us.
At this moment, God is speaking to the Jewish people, who have been exiled from their homeland.
Whilst this verse seems like it is merely discussing punishment, there is also something to be learned about disappointment and how it affects us in the long term as well:
‘When you tell these people all this, and they ask you, ‘Why has the Lord decreed such a great disaster against us? What wrong have we done? What sin have we committed against the Lord our God?’ then say to them, ‘It is because your ancestors forsook me,’ declares the Lord, ‘and followed other gods and served and worshiped them.
They forsook me and did not keep my law. But you have behaved more wickedly than your ancestors. See how all of you are following the stubbornness of your evil hearts instead of obeying me.’
In this verse, Jeremiah is not just talking about the Jewish people worshiping other gods. He is talking about the consequences of turning away from God’s teachings.
You may have felt wronged by something in the past, disappointed and hurt by it. At that moment, it can feel tempting to want to return that feeling to another, to let it out. In the Jewish people’s case, turning to other things to worship other than God. And that can feel like it works for a time.
But if we turn away from God, we turn away from his teachings on how to treat others. We start to allow that disappointment to tell us how others should be treated, rather than doing what is right: Following God, his teachings, and let it go.
In this sense, the punishment from God is a metaphor for abandoning his principles, because if you let disappointment and wickedness into your heart, you lose that ability to love in itself, which is a kind of cruelty in itself. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy, that only God’s teachings can help fight off.
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.’
This verse comes during Jesus’ last night with his disciples, comforting them before he is arrested and crucified. That even if they are saddened and are grieving for him, there will be time to meet again in his Father’s house, God in Heaven.
We have all had moments like this. Either, we were disappointed has destroyed something we once had with another person. Perhaps it feels like there is no way to repair what you once had with them. Perhaps they have passed away, and we are disappointed that they leave us. At that moment, it can feel like what was lost can never be found or mended again.
But in this verse, Jesus reminds us that, even if we left another person on disappointing terms, it is not the end of that relationship. If you both knew God’s love, if you both knew the other to be a person of love in some way, here is always a chance to heal what was broken, whether it be on Earth, or when you meet again in Heaven.
‘But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’
This verse is discussing how the followers of God can recover from the day of Disaster from the previous chapter, discussing how after a troubled time for the followers of God, that they would come back stronger than before.
As we have already discussed, disappointment can leave you feeling disillusioned, disempowered, and doubting yourself after something you believed would work out, turns out to have not gone as we expected.
But if we allow that disappointment to swallow us, to distract us from what really matters to us, it can take away all of our strength. It takes away the chance for us to learn from that experience, to take away what truly matters.
If we want to be able to reflect keep that strength that God gives us, we cannot let our doubt in him stay. Let yourself feel that experience, certainly, but to stay in that rut will only drag you down further. Let that disappointment pass, reflect on what God has taught us, apply it to this lesson, so we can try something else next time.
‘In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’
This is an excellent verse if your disappointment has led to self-doubt creeping in.
Often in our journeys, if we stumble, we feel as if that means that the path ahead is not meant to be followed, that there was a mistake made along the way. But we should always remember that God has laid this path out for us in advance. That he would not have set us on a path that didn’t lead to anywhere.
Even if we are disappointed with a result, what we are doing is still part of His plan, and we must keep moving forward if we want to help Him with that plan.
Stories Of Disappointment In The Bible
The Story Of Joseph
For our first example, let us take a look at a story from the Old Testament that you may be familiar with, the story of Joseph. His brothers, jealous of the affection their father had for him, and the dreams that Joseph had been receiving of the elements bowing to him, had him sold into slavery.
You can imagine the betrayal that Joseph felt, especially from those who should have loved him, his own flesh and blood. But in that situation, when he was sold into Egypt as a slave to the pharaoh, he did not allow that disappointment to diminish him. He could not allow it to, or he would have surely died on his journey.
In that circumstance, Joseph did not, or perhaps, could not allow that disillusionment to control him. He had to accept his situation as it was, not what he could have had at that time. And so, with the hand he had been dealt, he kept his faith in God. And through that, God continued to bless him in little ways.
Making sure the house he was put in charge of caring for saw good fortune. Showing him kindness by winning over the prison warden when he was in prison. And eventually, the pharaoh, giving Joseph the title of Governor of Egypt, which he then used to prepare for a famine that was to come.
The Story Of Jesus’ Disciples
For another example, let’s look at perhaps one of the most important in the Bible itself: The disciples coming to grips with the nature of Jesus Christ himself.
Imagine for a second that you are in the New Testament. It’s the first century AD. You have recently found God in Jesus Christ, and have chosen to follow him. You follow him because he has promised salvation.
For you at the time, being persecuted by the Roman rulers of the day, you believe that this means that Messiah would come and rescue you from their cruelty.
Only to find that your Messiah would be crucified on the Cross because he was betrayed. Would you not be disappointed? Enraged?
This is the scenario that Jesus’ disciples and followers found themselves in when Jesus died for our sins. Imagine having to come to grips with this reality? It would not have been easy, even for the most devout of followers.
But this moment had to have happened, for them to come to grips with the nature of Jesus on Earth. Jesus even scolded them for this:
‘He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.’ (Luke 24:25-27)
In this verse, Jesus is trying to explain that the prophet’s expectations were not the same as the plan that God had laid out for them. It is a lesson for His followers about understanding that God, even if it is not what those that follow him expect, does have a plan.
From these stories, we can see that what God is teaching us about disappointment is not through just the fault of the world that we feel it, but that fault in us that makes us feel it. It is the lesson about where our expectations clash with the reality of what is happening, whilst knowing that God is, in fact, at work in everything.
Even if it isn’t clear at first.