Hope deferred makes the heart sick… Proverbs 13:12
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Psalm 42:11
I am an optimist at heart. I see the glass half full, not half empty. I try to see the bright side of things as life goes along, but sometimes, admittedly, there is disappointment.
Dealing with disappointment as a believer isn’t a matter of denying it or tagging on a Christian cliché or even a Bible verse in an effort to gloss over the letdown.
We know in the end the answer is God. We know the bottom line is Jesus. But how we get to the bottom line will make the difference between genuine acceptance and just a Christian façade.
It doesn’t help when well-meaning friends with the best intentions give “the Christian answer” without pausing long enough to hear and empathize with the disappointed heart. (I’m sorry to say, I have been one of those well-meaning friends with the best intentions at times.)
So where do we start?
It may seem strange to say, but I think we best start BEFORE we know whether it will turn out in our favor or not. We start even as we begin to hope. How we frame it in our own hearts and minds will make a big difference as to how we will react if things do not go in our favor.
As we begin to hope for and ask God for something good – or perhaps to avoid something bad – our feet must be firmly grounded in His goodness and sovereignty. I don’t mean a glancing thought or perfunctory head nod, I mean a genuine acknowledgment and appreciation for His goodness and His sovereignty. This is His world and we are His children and He does all things well and for our ultimate good.
Also, holding our hopes and dreams with open hands in a gesture of submission to His will makes a denial a bit less painful. But, if I hold a death grip on my desire – and God denies my request – I think anger would be inevitable.
We have to ask ourselves the questions: Do I want this even if it is not God’s best for me? Do I want what God wants more that I want what I want?
So then what? What do we do if the outcome is unfavorable?
Well, God already knows our heart. He knew before it happened or didn’t happen that we would be disappointed. So we start by simply being honest with ourselves and with Him. Acknowledge to God we are disappointed. We hoped for something to happen or not happen and it didn’t turn out the way we had hoped.
There is nothing ungodly about being disappointed. However cloaked in the disappointment could be the temptation to become angry, even bitter. We don’t want to go there.
We need to reaffirm that we trust God’s goodness and His sovereignty.
We need to choose to look beyond our immediate disappointment with faith to believe what God has promised.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 42:11
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
With a backdrop of faith and belief grounded in the character and attributes of a loving, good and sovereign God – these Scripture no longer feel cliché but hope-filled truth to help us with our disappointment.
Diane Hunt Diane serves part-time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.