Dealing With Disappointment

Who hasn’t experienced disappointment on occasion? Maybe a friend failed you; maybe anticipated recognition at work did not materialize; perhaps what you thought would be a lifetime of love in your marriage ended prematurely in divorce; maybe you had big dreams for your children and they took a different path.

The Bible contains a number of stories of parents who had to cope with disappointing offspring. Absalom wanted his father David’s throne and actually raised up an army in open rebellion against his rule.1

Moses is another Bible character who faced disappointment. God had chosen him to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and they eventually made it to the wilderness of Sin; but while Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments from God, the people turned from God and worshipped a golden calf. Moses was so disappointed and angry that he smashed the tablets of stone containing God’s words. He then had to return to the mountain to receive them again.2

When we are disappointed because our expectations about something or someone are unfulfilled, we may become discouraged, lose trust, and even close ourselves off to others. We can become unhappy, resentful, bitter, and angry; and in the long run, this can negatively affect our health. While these are natural reactions, there is a better way. In fact, disappointment needn’t destroy us; it can teach us.

Here are four tips for dealing with disappointment:

  • Accept that people are not perfect, nor are they the same as you. They don’t think exactly the same as you do, don’t see things the way you do, and often don’t react to circumstances the same way you do. Recognize and understand that others’ priorities aren’t necessarily the same as yours.
  • Accept that there are all kinds of situations in life, some of which you’ll like and some you won’t. Life doesn’t have to be perfect, entirely happy, or entirely successful to be worthwhile.
  • Learn to be flexible when facing a situation that isn’t turning out as you’d hoped. A dry branch breaks when you put pressure on it, but a green branch full of life bends instead.
  • Look for the positive side of each situation and ask yourself, What can I learn from this? How can I use it as something positive? If we seek God in each situation we face, what could have been negative can turn into something positive.
  1. See 2 Samuel 15.
  2. See Exodus 32:15–35.