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Moving Forward After Disappointment

Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make. Become intimate with him in whatever you do, and he will lead you wherever you go. Proverbs 3:5-6 (TPT)

In my life, I have experienced endless disappointments. Recently, I faced a disappointment that hurt me to my core. I have been best friends with someone since the sixth grade. We knew everything about each other, and I thought we'd be best friends forever. It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I began to see a disconnect between us. However, I never said anything to her about the change I saw in our friendship.

We went from hanging out all the time, texting, on FaceTime, and making long posts for each other's birthday to not communicating at all. From junior year to senior year of college, I was busy with school and developing my relationship with God. I knew in the back of my head I wanted to reach out and talk to her, but I was too afraid to confront the issue. In an attempt to make things better, I invited her to my graduation so that we could see each other. I was so excited when she came and I realized how much I missed her. However, I saw that our relationship wasn’t the same as before. It was like we were still friends, but there was definitely an elephant in the room that we hadn't addressed.

After praying to God and receiving for prayer from my spiritual community, she texted me and asked if I could call her. My heart was beating so fast. I was nervous about what we'd both share with each other after all this time. When I called and she said she wanted to talk about our friendship, I was so relieved. I wanted to have this conversation, but I had been avoiding the potential pain it would cause. That day, we both expressed our thoughts and feelings about what had happened between us.

Reality came in and disappointment struck my heart. All the emotions I tried to bury overwhelmed me with grief. The lost connection with my closet friend of fourteen years made me weep. I was very disappointed. I felt frustrated, sad, lonely, and angry.

Oxford Dictionary defines a disappointment as "the feeling of being sad because something has not happened or been as good or successful as you expected or hoped". In simple terms, it just means unmet expectations.

Disappointment sucks. It takes many forms. It can be loss of a plan, dream, hope, expectation or person.
Some disappointments will have greater impacts than others. The intensity of disappointments can range from losing a job, financial stress, heartbreak, miscarriage, illness, failure, misunderstanding, or even someone eating your leftover food in the refrigerator that you were looking forward to eating later. Whether the disappointment is considered big or small, they all affect us in an instrumental way. All disappointments hurt, and your feelings are valid no matter the size of the impact.

Many people in the bible encountered disappointments. Mary and Joseph (Jesus’ parents), Moses, Hagar, Abraham, Sarah, Job, David, and the disciples of Jesus; even the Pharisees and religious leaders experienced unmet expectations. Everyone will experience disappointments in their life. It is inevitable. However what’s important is how we respond and move forward after facing them.

Luke 1:22-38 describes an encounter Mary had with an angel. An angel approached Mary and told her that she would give birth to a son and name him Jesus. Mary asked the angel how she would do this if she was a virgin, and the angel told her that the spirit of God will place the baby inside her. During this time, Mary was engaged to Joseph. They were not expecting to take on that responsibility this early. So, this news was shocking and inconvenient for the couple. But in verse 38, Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.” Even in the midst of disappointment, Mary chose to be obedient by believing and trusting that God had greater plans for her life.

Jesus also experienced disappointment. In Matthew 26: 36-56, Jesus took three of his disciples with him into the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus asked them to do one simple thing for him: sit there and pray for Him. This moment was right before He was about to be taken to be crucified. Jesus explained to them how sorrowful His soul was. So, Jesus went further into the garden to pray to His Heavenly Father. When Jesus came back, the disciples were asleep. He told them to pray once more and went back again to pray by Himself. He came back a second time to check on the disciples, but they were still asleep. Jesus left them and went to pray a third time. Jesus prayed the same prayer three times, saying “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken away from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

In both of these examples, we see disappointment strike on different levels. Mary’s disappointment had a greater impact on her life because she went from preparing to get married to unexpectedly becoming pregnant and having to carry a baby for nine months. On a different scale, Jesus asked His disciples to pray for him, but they failed to meet those expectations. This was on a small scale of impact. However, both were still disappointments and both Mary and Jesus experienced frustration.

What's beautiful about these examples is how Mary and Jesus responded. We see in the face of disappointment they chose to acknowledge their disappointment, surrender, trust, and believe God for their future.

In the midst of disappointment, it is not the time to run away from God, but we must continue to run to Him for healing, comfort and direction.

How do we begin to move forward in the face of disappointment?

Acknowledge it

God can’t heal what you won’t reveal. In order to receive healing, we must be brave enough to confront the pain and accept what happened. I am not saying if someone hurt you to say what they did was okay, because it wasn’t. What I am saying is to acknowledge it; which means to admit that it is real. Don’t ignore it or try to cover it up. Expose it to the light. Exposure may look like journaling it down, telling a trusted friend, or praying about it. Jesus in the garden said, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken away from me”. In other words, Jesus is admitting to God that this calling is hard and it hurts tremendously. He poured out His raw emotion to the Father.

Surrender it

1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for us.” God cares about you and He loves you. We can’t heal if we keep holding on to the things that are cutting us. Stop replaying what happened in your mind. Don’t dwell on what you can’t control. Place it in God’s hands because He is the only one who can handle it. You can’t receive healing if you won’t release control. We have to run to God constantly to encounter a renewal of our souls. Every time Jesus saw His disciples sleeping what did He do? He surrendered it in prayer. God is the only One who can help us in times of disappointment. This is what surrendering our disappointments and feelings to God looks like: making the daily decision to lay things at His feet and repeat the words of Jesus in the garden, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Trust God with it

Jeremiah 29:11 says,For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” God's will for our life is good, pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2). Our plans may fail, but we are a child of a faithful and good God. He is trustworthy, all-knowing, all-powerful and present everywhere. Nothing catches Him off guard or by surprise. Trust that He knows what's best. He is fully aware of all your wounds, trauma, and hurt. He is not unfamiliar with our pain. He grieves with us.

There’s nothing our God can not handle. This looks like choosing to fix your eyes on Jesus everyday no matter what’s in front of you. This looks like finding scripture that will support and encourage the fact that God's plans for our life are ultimately greater than our plans for our life. Mary responded in this way: “Yes, I will be a mother for the Lord! As his servant, I accept whatever he has for me. May everything you have told me come to pass” (Luke 1:38 Passion Translation).

Even when our lives feel out of control, we can trust The Most High King who is completely in control.

What can happen if we don’t process our disappointments with God?

Disappointment —> Discouragement —> Doubt —> Disobedience

It is normal to be discouraged. Many times when we encounter disappointments it causes us to get discouraged about our current situation. When we sit in our discouragement, we are dwelling on the negative thoughts in our mind which will grow doubt. Doubt will make you question God’s character and His plans for your life. You will start to question your identity, purpose, and efforts. When doubt comes, insecurities and fear are closely behind. This can ultimately lead us to disobedience. When we don’t believe and trust who God says He is, we will try to take control of our own lives and push God away.

Healing is a process and many times it won’t happen overnight. Acknowledging, surrendering and trusting are meant to be revisited consistently. Don’t allow your disappointment to turn you away from God. He is good even when life isn’t. Ninety-nine percent of the time we will never understand why certain situations happen the way they do or why God allows bad things to happen. But in the face of life mysteries, we can move forward with God. Choose to praise Him, trust Him, worship Him, believe in Him, run to Him, and cry out to Him in the midst of life’s disappointments.

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:17-19


Father, help me to move forward after this disappointment. I cannot do this on my own, and I need your help. Please remind me that You are with me. Give me peace and strength to face this pain. Thank you for who You are and for never changing. Thank You that You are a firm foundation that I can stand on. Help heal my heart. Help me to run to You and to remain in your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Written By: Ashawrie White

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