“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. ” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)
Disappointment is defined as the emotion of sadness a person feels because of the nonfulfillment of their hopes or expectations. As I read the definition, I’m struck by the dichotomy of how simple the definition reads and how severely disappointment can impact our hearts. Sometimes our souls are wounded from it to such a degree that we’re never quite the same. There’s a saying that “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” It’s cliché-ish, but oh so true. But no one wants to think about being stronger when your heart is aching, your confidence is blown to smithereens, and the thing you counted on or the person you thought had your back let you down big time.
As survivors of domestic violence and abuse, many of us have learned not to have high expectations. Your mind and heart will respond very surprisingly when they are conditioned this way. We’ll sometimes convince ourselves that God will not help us because of what we’ve gone through. We might make the mistake of thinking that He is punishing us for some reason, or that He doesn’t care enough to rescue us from disappointing circumstances. This isn’t the case at all. 1Peter 5:7 tells us to give all our worries and cares to God, because He cares for us. God loves us, and He wants to help.
Timothy was a disciple of the Apostle Paul, and Paul loved him like a son. Timothy endured disappointment because things in the church he was overseeing were not going the way he had hoped. He was a bit shy, and a very diligent and trustworthy person. Paul said that assignments given to Timothy would be carried out as thoroughly as if he had done them himself. But with this church, Timothy felt overwhelmed and became fearful to execute the spiritual gifts he had been given.
In our daily lives, we may not have the huge responsibility that Timothy had back in those biblical times, but we know how it feels to want something to succeed and yet have it fail. We know how hurtful it can be when those who are supposed to care about us speak negatively to us or behind our backs. It just breaks your heart and you want to crawl under a rock somewhere.
The encouragement that the Apostle Paul gave Timothy is the same encouragement we need in order to overcome overwhelming disappointment. In 2Timothy 1:6, Paul told him to stir up the gift of God that was in him. He reminded Timothy of his obligation to respond to God in faith, and to remember that God had equipped him to confront and overcome any adversity.
Disappointment can prompt us to shut down and close ourselves off to hope and faith; but we must not give in to this. Paul knew human nature. He knew how paralyzing disappointment can be, and he didn’t want Timothy to retreat into the darkness of fear. He had to make him remember what God has given to everyone who walks in Christ. In 2Timothy 1:7(NIV) he wrote, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
God doesn’t want the disappointments and hurts we experience to get the best of us. But He does want us to see the areas where we have allowed our spiritual lives to cool down. He wants us to notice that we might not be praying and talking to Him as much as we used to, or maybe our priorities have slipped; we’re more enthusiastic about what is happening externally than we are about what is happening internally. He’s reminds us to stir up the gift within, to remember who we are and whose we are. Only God can give us a sense of assurance, and when we focus our attention on Him and His promises, our spiritual lives will be strengthened. We can then view the other side of disappointment, and how we’re bolder and stronger for having overcome it.■
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“Dealing with Overwhelming Disappointment” written for Overcomingdomesticviolenceorg.wordpress.com. Copyright ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!