Disappointment is one of the hardest things to navigate in life. No matter how well we plan and prepare in hopes of avoiding it, we’re going to run into disappointment along the way. Inevitably, we will experience many moments when we have unmet expectations, encounter set-back, or things just don’t work out the way we’d hoped. Unfortunately, disappointment is an unavoidable part of the process.
So, what should we do when we experience disappointment?
Embrace it, because how we navigate times of disappointment will determine how far we will go and how much we will grow in the process.
Even though it’s painful, disappointment can be very beneficial because it holds unlimited potential. Disappointing circumstances contain opportunities to move one step closer on our journey. And, they create space for miracles. The Bible is full of examples when derailment could have been the outcome of disappointment, but instead they became valuable experiences that supported the process of growth and maturity.
Look at the life of Joseph in Genesis chapters 37-50. His life was a series of disappointments. His brothers threw him into a pit and left him for dead, returning only to sell him into slavery. He was falsely accused of rape and wrongly imprisoned. His friend in prison, the cup-bearer to Pharaoh, failed to acknowledge him as promised when he was released, leaving Joseph to suffer in prison longer.
Think about Jairus in Mark 5:21-43. I cannot imagine his disappointment when he arrived home with Jesus to discover his daughter had died. She was gravely ill when he left and went to find Jesus to ask Him to come heal her. They had been delayed by the woman with the issue of blood and now, his daughter was dead.
The disappointment of Mary and Martha is tangible as your read their story in John 11:1-44. They sent for Jesus when their brother Lazarus was seriously ill. But to their disappointment, Jesus did not come as expected. I even imagine Lazarus was disappointed as he drew his last breath wondering where Jesus was.
I believe the disciples were disappointed when Jesus died. His death was not what they expected. He was supposed to conquer their enemies, assume the throne, and rule over Israel – not die. In the wake of His death they were left distraught, confused, and heartbroken.
Each of these situations were full of soul-crushing disappointment that could have permanently derailed these men and women in their journey of faith.
But as painful and difficult as each of these disappointments were, not one moment of heartbreak was wasted because each person allowed God into their disappointment. Instead of resenting God and letting disappointment throw them off course, they chose to trust and follow Him in the disappointment, allowing Him to use it in the process of maturing them. God used their disappointment to do something in them they may have otherwise missed.
Joseph testifies to this in Genesis 50:20 (NLT) when he tells his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Joseph recognized how God used each disappointment in the process of developing him into a great leader who would be the second-in-command to Pharaoh and successfully lead the nation of Egypt through crippling famine.
Instead of crumbling in despair or lashing out in anger, Jairus accepted the invitation to trust Jesus and believe. Handing Jesus his disappointment, Jairus followed Jesus home and experienced a miracle as Jesus infused life into his daughter.
Mary and Martha did not waste their disappointment but chose to believe Jesus when He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” [John 11:25-26 (NLT)] Jesus stepped into their disappointment and called Lazarus, from the grave.
It was the disciples’ greatest disappointment that enabled them to step into their destiny. The death of Jesus made way for their empowerment because Jesus sent Holy Spirit in His absence to launch them into their calling. As these men left the Upper Room, they set the world on fire, and it’s still burning today. And, it was all birthed out of their greatest disappointment.
Disappointment is a powerful part of the process with unlimited potential for growth and development. It gives us opportunity to trust and exercise our faith, moving us forward in our journey.
Don’t let disappointment derail you. Stay with the process so that in your endurance you may be made mature and complete and you won’t lack anything (James 1:3-4). Instead, embrace it with all its pain and heartache, and then give it to God because He can do something amazing with it. That’s the promise of Romans 8:28 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.