How to Handle Disappointment: A Bible Study with Advice

by Robert Driskell · Print Print · Email Email

No matter who you are, where you live, what you do for a living, or how much money you have, you have experienced disappointment. For example:

  • The job you wanted, but did not get.
  • When your favorite team lost a game…by a point.
  • The day the relationship you thought was so solid evaporated.
  • The unexpected loss of a loved one, etc.

How should the believer in Christ face these disappointments?  Let us look at God’s Word for an answer.

God has a history of comforting His people

In the Old Testament, God comforted His people with these words, “But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV).  God promises to protect, comfort, strengthen, and guide those who love Him; those with whom He has a personal relationship.  This includes the believing Christian.

God is in control

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 ESV).  This verse is one of the most uplifting and positive verses in the New Testament.  It is a promise from God, to those who are committed to Him, that nothing will happen in their lives that God is not controlling…nothing.  Sometimes we may not understand God’s plan, but He is still in control and working everything out for our good and His glory.  That is a promise from God’s Word.

Sometimes God allows disappointment in order to force us to trust Him more fully

The apostle Paul reveals to us that God will sometimes use circumstances to cause us to rely more fully on Him.  “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia.  For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.  But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9 ESV).  Christians must not allow themselves to begin to think that God is bestowing His goodness on them because they deserve it.  We must not think that somehow, God saved us through His power, but we will take it from here and live the Christian life in our power.  God may use hardships and disappointments to help us realize that we cannot live holy lives apart from God.  We are dependent on His love and His gracious enabling.  Still, in all that transpires, He is working out Romans 8:28.

Sometimes God uses our reaction to disappointment as a witness to others

Trusting God in the tough times is a great witness to the world.

When people know that we serve the Lord, and they see us handling our difficulties and disappointments by trusting in God, they see that our faith is real.  Trusting God in the tough times is a great witness to the world.

The apostle Paul knew this well.  He had some sort of ailment or affliction with which he struggled that caused him great grief.  Paul turned to the Lord and asked, three times, to be relieved of this ailment.  What was God’s answer?  “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10 ESV).  What an incredible trust Paul had in the Lord!  Many Christians believe that, because they are saved, life should have no hardships whatever.  However, in this passage, Paul shatters that myth by showing us that even his prayers were not answered the way he wanted them answered.  However, he also tells us that it is in times of our greatest weakness and trouble that God is most powerfully at work in our lives.  Oh, that we could all be content with that attitude.

Jesus is our refuge in times of disappointment

The words of Jesus, and the words about Jesus, should be of great comfort to the believer who is experiencing disappointment.  “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 ESV).  In this verse, Jesus is telling his disciples there is no doubt that they will experience toils and troubles in their lives.  However, He also promises them that He is more powerful than anything they will face.

Several Bible passages tell us that we who are united with Jesus are overcomers with Him: “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”  (1 John 5:4-5 ESV).  Jesus puts our struggles into perspective when He says, “…for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (I John 4:4 ESV). The apostle Paul tells us that “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37 ESV).

Jesus also tells us that our relationship with Him will bring us inner peace, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27 ESV).  The peace that Jesus promises is not the kind of peace the world offers; a peace based on ever-changing circumstances.  The kind of peace Jesus gives is a deep, lasting, powerful peace that enables us to face any kind of hardship that may come along.

Conclusion

So, how should we face disappointments?  We should understand that:

1. God comforts His people.

2. God is in control.

3. God sometimes uses our disappointments to turn our hearts toward Him

4. God sometimes uses our disappointments as a witness of His sufficiency when we trust Him in our times of need.

5. Jesus is our strength and our refuge in the good times and the bad.  No one is more powerful than He is and no one loves us more than He does.

The apostle Paul gives us some divine encouragement with these words: “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15 ESV).

Looking for some more Christian tips and advice?

Check out these articles:

Source:

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV)

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie Ardito November 3, 2012 at 10:08 am

Thank you for sharing..May the Lord truly bless you..I always read these link via facebook. Today the bible study was excelent..just wanted to thank you for blessing me and teaching me..what the Lord wants…see I lost my precious husband to brain cancer…it has been a very hard 2 years. I have 2 young sons who I am raising alone now..So I have to be their guide in all things. I love your teaching and once again thank you…God bless Julie Ardito

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Robert Driskell November 3, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Julie,
Thank you for reading and commenting. I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like you have got the right attitude, though. Whatever you face, trust that God will guide you and strengthen you. He promised that He would never leave us or forsake us. We can trust His promises to be true. God bless you.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Robert Miller November 3, 2012 at 10:16 am

Excellent, uplifting article, Robert! I’ve had at least one time (and most likely more) where life went differently from what I prayed for, but the end result was greater than what I had in mind! God is truly great, and I try not to get disappointed when things go bad/differently, but instead I try to think of what God’s intention/purpose could be.

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Robert Driskell November 3, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Robert (I like that name for some reason),
Thank you for reading and commenting. God is so good, isn’t he? So often, we think we know what’s best for us, but God sees the beginning from the end. If we will simply leave everything in His hands (of course, acting whenever He tells us to), He will guide us and strengthen us in all we do…and things will be so much better than we ever dreamed. God bless you, brother.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Jack Wellman November 3, 2012 at 10:51 am

I agree with Robert M. my friend. So good for we can all identify with disappointment but as to how to handle it, I had not looked at it these various ways. Outstanding, as always brother. Thank you.

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Robert Driskell November 3, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Jack,
Thank you very much, but more than that, I pray that the article encouraged you and will continue to encourage no matter what you face in life. It can be difficult, but in the overall scheme of things, it is but a fleeting moment which cannot compare to the grace and glory we will experience with God. Love you, brother.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Derek Hill November 4, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Wonderful article Robert! After just concluding the 14 month storm I was in, I can say with out a doubt the Bible is 100% accurate. For God was with me the entire time and I came out of the storm much closer to Him than I have ever in my life!! I loved your response to Jack, ” It can be difficult, but in the overall scheme of things, it is but a fleeting moment which cannot compare to the grace and glory we will experience with God.” Amen brother! Well said!

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Robert Driskell November 5, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Thank you, Derek,
You could probably add a lot to this article by way of life experience. I’m so glad God saw you through your difficulty. He is so good to us. That line you liked was actually my loose paraphrase of Paul’s words in Romans 8:18. The Word of God is so powerful and true. God bless you, brother.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Kevin November 4, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Thank you sir Robert, very helpful verses when we disappointed. Peace be with you.

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Robert Driskell November 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Thank you, Kevin,
God’s Word is such comfort in difficult times, as well as the good times. God knows us better than we know ourselves. Trust in Him with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5-6). God bless you, Kevin.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Linda December 15, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I have a question. How do we reply to those who blame God for all the tragedies in the world? For myself I do not, but when someone asked me this today, I couldnt find the write words, as this person was VERY upset. Thank you in advance, Linda L

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Jack Wellman December 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Hello Linda. Robert, the author of this article, may have a much better answer than I do but I feel that when we rejected God to rule over us (in the Garden) and we decided to make our own ways more important than obedience to God, we made our own choices and our own way to live. To blame God for suffering is wrong since mankind is responsible above all. It is a fallen world and besides, society in general has kicked God out of the public schools, out of the public square and out of the government and out of their lives and then they asked, “Why did God allow this in a public school?” I say, “Don’t you remember, they have kicked God out.” Why do humans allow suffering while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. As long as automatic weapons like the ones used in this senseless killing, these events will continue to occur. Why does the government permit mass killing weapons just because they are supposed to be protected under the right to bear arms. The Right to Bear Arms does not mean we should have access to AK-47’s!

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Robert December 17, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Linda,
I concur with Jack’s answer wholeheartedly. God created a perfect world and gave it to us. He told us how to live in order to maintain that perfect world, but we rejected His rule for our own (I know that’s a simple explanation, but there’s more). If the people who are blaming God are not Christians, they will most likely not be able to understand why God would allow the tragedies that take place. However, the believer should know God well enough to know certain things about Him; that He loves us enough to send His Son to die on a cross for us, that He knows all things, and that His purposes are higher than our purposes. Remember that God can see the beginning from the end, He knows the consequences of every single action that takes place. Who knows what glory He will get out of even the worst tragedies? Our response is to trust Him, obey Him, and spread His love to others. In that way, we can be ministers of His grace to those who are hurting. God bless you, Linda. I pray this adequately answers your question (sometimes it’s difficult to cover everything in the comment section), but if not, you are surely welcome to ask followup questions.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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haragel January 25, 2013 at 8:30 am

thank you sir Robert . it comforts me when I’m sad. God is in control …..

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Robert January 25, 2013 at 8:47 am

You are more than welcome. God is good, and He is in control. We can trust Him with everything.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Suzi July 13, 2013 at 6:52 am

Thanks for sharing His Word…it helped.
Blessings

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Christa March 2, 2016 at 6:51 pm

My mom has rejected me as her daughter. So I know God loves me, so do I walk away from her,?

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Jack Wellman March 2, 2016 at 9:24 pm

I am so sorry Christa. Did your mom reject you for your faith in Christ? Jesus prophesied this in that family members would be set against another. I would try to stay with her, love, her, pray for her. Is she saved?

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Lookin4answers September 4, 2016 at 8:56 pm

Hello all,

I was born and raised in the church. I have walked with the Lord since I was eleven. It is all I have known. I went to a Christian college and pretty much led a solid, Christian walk. The only thing that I really wanted in life was to be married and have children. I wanted to have a home and raise my children up in the Lord. I was raised in the church so this was modeled for me all the time. I was single for all of my twenties and didn’t date until I was in my 30’s and married my now ex-husband. We had 3 children and 2 years ago, he abandoned our family for another woman and moved to Alaska. The Lord immediately provided a job and I have been able to financially provide for my children; for that I am very thankful. I am just struggling with rejection and the fact that my now ex husband literally just “dumped” me like I did not exist. I have “rejection” issues also due to my family who mostly treats me as if I do not exist either. This was an issue, in my marriage, i.e. why my family never visited me or came to meet my children when they were born. It is just so heart breaking to me. I love Jesus so much and I am hurting! I literally feel like I have been abandoned by everyone and everything that gives my life meaning. I am holding on to God’s truth that He loves me and has a plan. I just don’t get the constant suffering…like its a season that never seems to have an end. I have seen my siblings prosper (financially/relationally), in their lives, and I just seem to languish in despair. I don’t want to be bitter or so disappointed. I just need perspective. I know Joseph, from the Bible, had similar circumstances so I know there is hope….just, in my forties now and wondering when or if this desert season will end.

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Jack Wellman September 4, 2016 at 10:03 pm

I am so sorry for all of this my friend. Job had a similar experience, in a way. He lost everything and it is believed he was about 40 but in the end, Job had twice as much. I will pray for you. Please don’t give up hope. Have some of your church members pray for you as well.

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Stephanie January 10, 2018 at 7:57 pm

Hi Robert, I have failed. I have been rejected. My father left when I was six weeks old. Then committed suicide on Father’s Day in 1989. My mother was bitter. She raised us, my sister and me without affection and disciplined with fear. Always threathening to leave us too. We were a burden and knew it. My mother preferred her boyfriends over us. Once she told me, ” Don’t make me choose between you or him, because you”ll lose.” Something cracked in my nine year mind. Married 25 years to an alcoholic. A male version of my mother. Suffered emotional, mental, rejection and sexual abuse. Left him. Had several breakdowns. Tried to kill myself 3 times. Went back to him. Was sick in my mind. Judge considered that a reconciliation. Lost my $2800 alimony. Never worked before. Been so poor. I live on $ 770 a month. Sometimes I make extra money cleaning homes. I am 57 and physically will not be able to do this much longer. Poverty, depression, and no hope has overwhelmed me. I have no joy. I think my soul has died. I am fearful of everything. Where I live is the ghetto. Drugs and women selling their bodies. The whole apartment complex is a sad destitute place. I was robbed. All my good jewelry stolen along with other things. My place is a wreck. Can’t let anyone visit. Hoarding, can’t let go of possessions. I have one spot on my couch to sit and sleep.
I have lived on credit. It has caught up with me. Will have to declare bankruptcy. I’m so ashamed. I know Jesus is my Savior. I sure have let him down. The fearful will be thrown into the fire of hell first. No one has ever loved me just for being here. I don’t think I can straighten out the mess I have created. I am responsible and do not see how God could possibly love me. I don’t want to live. I can’t take the poverty, loneliness and the mountain of mess in my place anymore. I just want to go home to Jesus. Soon, I will ask him to forgive me. Then i will end my life.

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Jack Wellman January 10, 2018 at 9:14 pm

Hello Stephanie. If you ask for forgiveness, you will receive it (1 J0ohn 1:9). Praying for you right now. I too want to see Jesus…come quickly Lord, to put an end to all this suffering….and we have His promise that He will (Rev 21:4).

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Stephanie March 30, 2018 at 8:43 am

Stephanie,

My name is Stephanie (I wrote under Lookin for answers) and I wrote to ask for help almost two years ago. I hope you see this message.
I wish I could take away all your pain and suffering. I wish I could meet everyone of your needs. I cannot but God can. I don’t know why you are suffering so much. I don’t know why you are living in poverty and cannot provide for yourself. I have no answers except that God is the answer. He is the only one who will be able to direct your path. His word promises that. Run to God, pour out your anguish, seek him every second of every day, repeat His word to Him, out loud, as often as you can…even when you are too angry or too tired. Ask the Holy Spirit to pray for you even if you cannot…Use this dark, horrible time in your life now to teach you every lesson you need to learn…I truly believe the darkest times if allowed, can mold us into the most precious, wonderful people God can use. Don’t try to fix yourself….go to God with all your anger, bitterness, misery, pain, hurt, shame, disappointment, regret, jealousy, ….whatever…take it to Him and ask Him to make you into exactly what He wants you to be. Never Give UP!!!!! I know its hard…I really do…I am there, still there but God is worth pursuing even when life does not make sense! He is the only one who knows what is going on. Try not to blame God but ask Him to strengthen you, encourage you and give you the wisdom to navigate all that you are going through. Say to God….. “God I don’t understand this, I don’t feel I deserve this but I trust YOU, I trust YOU!”
Cling to the Cross….Jesus hung on the cross, naked, suffering horribly, taking on the sin of the world past, present and future and He was abused by people who He died for so He gets all the anguish that you are feeling…You are not alone! The enemy wants you to feel alone and isolated and living in torment. Let me tell you something, “If you still have a heartbeat and are breathing… God has a plan for you!!!!!”
Sister, I pray right now that the living water would just well up in, right now, in your spirit. That your Creator, your Heavenly Father would fill you so full that you run to His feet and just lay prostrate before Him. That you would grasp the knowledge that He is not against you but FOR YOU!!!! The enemy, the devil whispers and states the opposite… that God has abandoned you, that your life is over, that things will never get better….it’s not true! It may seem that way and I don’t know when God will better your circumstances but I do know that if He is not doing that for you right now….then there is a reason behind it…a reason that is more important than easing your hurt and pain right now. That may sound hard but God had to send His Son to be crucified to fulfill the greatest act of love that has ever been seen or heard. So if the Creator of the Universe had to send His Son Jesus to die this horrible death to accomplish greatness than maybe the horrible circumstances you are experiencing will produce greatness in your life too!!!! I believe that and we share the same name Stephanie….it is a beautiful know and it means Crown!!! Your name means Crown! Who wears a Crown dear one? Who wears a crown? Sister in Christ, you are loved beyond imagination and I am standing in the gap for you right now praying to God to lift you up so that you can stand against the devil schemes…to help you put on the armour of God so that you weather this storm you are going through. You are loved, so loved dear child of God!!!!!

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Stephanie March 30, 2018 at 8:48 am

Is there a way to remove my last name? I did not realize that would be published. Thanks!

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Jack Wellman March 30, 2018 at 9:01 am

Hello Stephanie. I have removed your last name. Thank you for your very compassionate comment.

Reply

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