Disappointments can come in different shapes and sizes. Maybe some felt big at the time, like not making the soccer team or failing a test you studied hard for. Others may have felt earth-shattering, like losing a job, struggling with infertility, or facing a scary diagnosis. Disappointment doesn't pick favorites. It can happen to anyone.
If you're a Christian, it can be complicated to handle disappointment with God. It's all great when things are going well – it's easier to believe that God loves you, cares for you, and wants the best for you. But what about when life is disappointing? You pray and seek God's help, but sometimes it feels like there's just silence.
What to do when life is disappointing
It's okay to feel disappointed with God. The Bible is full of stories of people who had faith in God also faced disappointment. Look at Hannah, who struggled with infertility, or King David, who dealt with all kinds of heartbreak and failure. They questioned and wrestled with God when things didn't go as they had hoped.
So, what can you do when you're disappointed because something you hoped for hasn't happened?
Pour out your heart
You might think that doubts, anger, bitterness, and sadness are obstacles to prayer. Surely God doesn’t want to deal with us when we’re bitter and angry. Surprisingly, that’s not the case. The hurt we carry is actually a way into honest, authentic prayer.
God can handle your feelings. He knows what you're going through and he’s not scared of your questions and doubts. You don't have to pretend everything's fine when it's not. Even your tears can be a form of prayer. Every time you've prayed in disappointment, God has heard you. So go ahead, be honest with God when life is disappointing.
Open up your hands
Disappointment happens when our desired outcome doesn’t come to fruition. We’re left longing, wishing for what could have been, and holding on maybe a little too tightly to the things we hoped for.
Sometimes, faith means holding onto your hopes with open hands, allowing God to do something new. It's hard to let go of what you want, but sometimes God has a different plan. You can tell God what you want, but also trust that he knows what's best for you. Even if things don't turn out the way you hoped, God is still good and cares for you.
You’re not alone
Of all the people in the Bible who knew disappointment, Jesus was far and away the most acquainted with it. He understood what it felt like to have unfulfilled hopes.
Jesus experienced deep grief and sorrow, like when he learned of the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11:35-36). He prayed to God when he was going through tough times, just like you do. Jesus even prayed for his suffering to be taken away the night before he was crucified (Matthew 26:36-46). Yet, he also trusted God's plan, saying, "Not my will but yours." He knew that God's ways are sometimes different from ours.
So, if you're feeling disappointed about something – whether it's a big thing or a small thing – remember that you're not alone. Even Jesus faced disappointment and understands what you're going through. You can talk to God about how you feel, and you can trust that he hears you.
It’s hard to accept that life is disappointing, especially when things don't turn out as you had hoped. But you don't have to go through it alone. We’d love to share some additional resources that can help you find hope in the midst of disappointment:
Why is Life So Hard & How to Not Give Up
What to Do When Parenthood Isn’t What You Expected
4 Ways to Have More Gratitude Every Day
Or, spend 5 days looking at real-life accounts of people who faced the unexpected in our Bible Reading Plan, When Life Throws You a Curveball.
LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Find the location closest to you or join us for Church Online. We can’t wait to connect with you!