September is usually the beginning of the academic year and in ministry it is often the beginning of the year for churches and pastors. This made me think of how the year has panned out so far for me. If I was asked to describe my year in one word I would at this point describe it with the word disappointment. It seems like disappointments in my life are many this year. I know on true reflection that this year in many ways has been a good year with the Lord’s blessing and faithfulness to us. In this post I would like to talk about disappointment and how we deal with it in our lives.
We all experience disappointments in life. These can be relatively small things, disappointments that turn out to be merely a misunderstanding, or devastating choices that lead to major life disruption and heartbreak. Yes disappointments are often quite painful for us, regardless of their immensity. When things don’t turn out the way you hoped, it may seem like the end of the world.
Many of us find it really hard to deal with disappointment. There are several types of disappointment that we encounter in our lives. For example: The job you wanted, but did not get. When your favourite team lost a game…by a point. A relationship you thought was so solid evaporated. The unexpected loss of a loved one, etc.. Disappointment comes in all sizes, doesn’t it? Any time our hopes are not realized or our expectations or desires are not fulfilled, we feel disappointed. Disappointment can be a passing emotion over a temporary loss, or it may strike powerfully when something permanently changes our lives. A major disappointment can remain within us all the time. When I ask friends how they deal with disappointment many of them would say, the best way to avoid disappointment is by choosing not to expect too much. The phrase “Don’t get your hopes up” comes to mind. There may be some truth in that, but I would prefer to have my hopes up than down any day. It is much better to have your hopes up then to be hopeless. Yes, we will sometimes be disappointed; but its still important to encourage each other to live hopefully. The first key to dealing with disappointment is to hold on to hope. We know in the very depths of our hearts and souls that God is good and has our best interests on His heart. I need to say; feeling disappointed is not a sin. How we handle it is the crucial issue. Sometimes we don’t handle disappointment well. I myself struggle with how I handle disappointment. Thoughts like “No one really cares about me” and “nothing ever works out in my life” enter my mind and these are counter productive and depressing.
To counter these kinds of thoughts, I find it good to sit down and make some lists. Make a list of everyone who has been good to you and demonstrated caring. Make a list of the blessings in your life (count your many blessings!). Make a list of the times when things have worked out well for you, and include times when something that seemed negative at first eventually turned into a positive (remember that prayer that you are now glad God did not answer). Also read the Psalms. Here, you will find a desperate longing for God, and sometimes the broken-hearted pleas for God’s deliverance from trials. No matter what the circumstance, the writers of the Psalms turned to God as their source of help and hope. Another helpful thing I try to do is to fill my mind with the promises of God. One other suggestion is to “never give up”. Any person who has had even the smallest degree of success in life has faced many disappointments. It is important to remember and to keep reminding ourselves failure and disappointment is not the end of the world. Too many are not doing what they feel called to do because they are afraid of disappointment and failure. In my experience of life, it seems that the most effective have failed far more times than the least effective.
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