Disappointment is an unavoidable reality in life.
Disappointment is when my expectations do not match life’s realities.
Whether it is being overlooked for a position, passed over for a promotion, or let down by a loved one, disappointment can really sting.
Disappointment sets off a chain of emotional responses including stress, anger, frustration, discouragement, and sadness. Chronic disappointment, if not dealt with, has the potential to evolve into deeper problems such as depression, bitterness, resentment, hatred, and despair.
One of the most vivid pictures of disappointment is recorded in Job chapter 6. In the midst of enormous suffering, Job tells his “friends” how he feels about their so-called support:
“My brothers, you have proved as unreliable as a seasonal brook that overflows its banks in the spring when it is swollen with ice and melting snow. But when the hot weather arrives, the water disappears. The brook vanishes in the heat. The caravans turn aside to be refreshed, but there is nothing to drink, so they die. The caravans from Tema search for this water; the travelers from Sheba hope to find it. They count on it but are disappointed. When they arrive, their hopes are dashed” (Job 6:15–20 NLT).
Ever felt that way? You were hoping for refreshing water, but you ended up sucking sand? Yeah, we all have.
So what do you do when we face disappointment?
1. Evaluate your expectations.
Sometimes we are disappointed because we have set unrealistic expectations. We expect someone to behave a certain way “just because” – and then when they don’t, we feel let down. Too often we set ourselves up for disappointment by painting pictures in our mind of what we think should happen – pictures that hinge on unwritten or unspoken expectations. “They should just know” is not a reasonable expectation.
2. Communicate your disappointment.
When we cover up how we’re affected, our heart will become infected. Any negative emotion, when not released, turns toxic. We have to get it out in order to work it out. In fact, it is often this step that reveals unrealistic expectations. Revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing.
3. Predicate your hope on God.
Disappointment is ultimately expecting something that’s not God to be as reliable as he is. Nothing on this earth can be counted on. Not people, not companies, not countries, not even you! Sin started this chain reaction of disappointment. The truth is, we will never be as disappointed as God was when his beloved betrayed him. The only way to stop being disappointed is to stop risking and stop loving which, of course, means we stop growing and we start dying.
Disappointment is inevitable.
Being disappointed is not.
When we shift our faith and trust fully in the one who will never let us down, we discover hope.
“Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed” (Isaiah 49:23 NIV).
When you’re let down, don’t stay down.