What to Do With Disappointment

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don’t lean
on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

We have all had disappointments in life. By the time you were a year old you had probably cried over a disappointment. You might have been told you couldn’t have any more candy, or you might have been stopped from running into the road, and you cried about it. You didn’t understand that too much candy isn’t a good thing, and running into the road could end your life early.

My children are adults now, but when they were young they used to cry much longer than necessary over things that weren’t a big deal. The selfish whining and fussing grated on my nerves, and I came up with a couple of solutions to the problem. If they fussed over something that wasn’t a big deal I would say: “You have ten minutes to cry over this situation. After that you’re done.”

The other thing I would say is: “Some things in life are worth crying about, but this is not one of them.” 


Sometimes they were disappointed that they couldn’t have the last piece of cake, or they didn’t get to watch their favorite show and I would ask: “In all of life, and then in all of eternity, how important is this?”


Our disappointments are sometimes big, and sometimes not so much. The way we react about disappointment sets a tone for people around us. If we whine and complain about everything that doesn’t go our way we might be labeled as “Debbie Downer” or we might be called the ‘Eeyore’ in the crowd. 


On the other hand, if we accept our disappointments as part of God’s bigger plan, we might be setting an example for others to follow. My own family has suffered the disappointment of knowing we won’t grow old with the ones we loved. My younger brother’s wife died of cancer when she was thirty-eight, my husband was killed when he was forty-nine and my older brother died when he was fifty-seven. The most crushing blow for me is to know there will be no more hugs, no more glances across the room, and no new moments to share together.  

Often we don’t often understand why God allows disappointments to come, but we have to trust that He has a greater plan. 


I’m reminded of a mother I saw helping her young child cross a busy intersection. The mother held her screaming son’s arm firmly as she walked from one side of the street to the other. It was clear the young boy thought he could make the trip just fine without his mother’s help. I gave thanks that his mom knew better, and his loud protest didn’t sway her decision. The child was disappointed, and didn’t understand that his mother had his best interest in mind. 

God is our Heavenly Father, and He has a much bigger plan than we can understand.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9


Just as a parent knows better than a young child, so God knows better about our life than we do. 


Recently a sweet woman who knows our story was talking with me about loss. She quietly mused that she hoped she would handle loss well, but couldn’t know for sure until she got there. She is forty years old and I was shocked that she had never suffered great loss. I can’t imagine such a life, but I pray the trust I have had in God through deep disappointment has set an example for her to follow.


In the meantime, let’s be careful how we handle today’s little disappointments, because our children are watching and we are teaching by example. 


Let’s also be careful how we allow our children to handle their own disappointments. If we allow them to scream and carry on about small things, how are we equipping them for the big disappointments? They need to understand that we know better, whether they like it or not. 


God has a perfect plan for our lives. Sometimes we do cry about the changes He has made in our plans, but we can trust Him knowing we will understand it better by and by.

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Thanks for this blog on disappointment. It spoke to my heart, especially the quote from Isaiah 55:8-9. It is hard sometimes to not want to be in charge, to do things my way. I have to pray and submit my life and plans to His total knowledge of what is best, and will bring God the most glory.

Looking forward to another bible study this fall, I hope."

"Another beautifully written story. You have been an inspiration to so many.

Love you!"


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