Coping with disappointment Psalm 31

It is a sad reality of the human condition that life is often full of disappointments!
Something we don’t want to happen does. Or we have a hope or expectation or longing for something but what we want to happen does not!

We can experience disappointments with LIFE in general. These can begin in school with exam results, or in hobbies or sports matches or music performances. We can also experience disappointment in our work lives – overlooked for promotion once again, or even getting fired. Sometimes disappointment comes because our expectations were unrealistic. But sometimes disappointments are unexpected and undeserved.

We can have disappointments with PEOPLE. At work, in friendships, in romantic relationships, even in church life, we can find ourselves disappointed with people. Sometimes it’s the other person’s fault. Sometimes it is actually our fault.

Sometimes we can feel disappointed with GOD. If life not working out as we hoped. Maybe we looked for God’s blessing and the blessings did not come. Perhaps our prayers were not answered in the way we would like. Believers and non-believers can all find ourselves disappointed with God sometimes.

Disappointment can affect people in a variety of ways. Mentally. Emotionally. Socially. Even physically. We can be disturbed, distressed, discouraged, dismayed, disheartened, depressed, distraught, disaffected, disillusioned, downright dismal, even (as Edmund Blackadder would say) discombobulated (real word = disconcerted and confused).

Disappointment can lead to pessimism and a negative view on life.

We can become cynical – Murphy’s Law – general laws of life:
“Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time,”
If you think there’s nothing wrong, you havent understood the problem.
“Make something idiot-proof, and they will build a better idiot”.
Specific laws – The odds that the falling toast will land jam side down are directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.
If you’re running late the bus will be early.
The odds are six to five that the light at the end of the tunnel is the headlamp of an oncoming train.

It’s sad when people get disappointed by life. Disappointment makes us not want to try again – not want to hope. We discussed this when we talked about coping with failure. Disappointment traps us in our comfort zones – we aren’t prepared to take any more risks. We don’t like to hope because we fear our hopes will be dashed. Alexander Pope said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he will never be disappointed!”
When we talked about how to cope with experiences of failure, we said that Christians are not immune from failing. We reminded ourselves that it is entirely possible to make no errors and still not to succeed. We said that it is important not to allow fear of failure stop us from trying again in the future. And we shouldn’t let our self-esteem be tied to succeeding in life. Instead we should find our self-worth in the infinite love God has for us.
We also talked briefly last week about how disappointments can lead us into grief. If our dreams and aspirations are crushed, we will experience grief. In some cases this is anticipatory grief, grieving not so much for what we have lost as for what might have been. In many ways we need to deal with disappointment in the same way as we deal with grief.

It’s also very sad when people get disappointed by other people. If our relationship with another person breaks down, this will bring us disappointment, and even more so if they let us down or fail us or betray us in some way. The loss of relationship can be like a bereavement and so, again, everything we said last week about how we can deal with grief comes into play. Disappointment can also make us close in on ourselves. It can stop us from taking the risk of trusting other people and makes us rely on ourselves. Disappointment can stop us from putting ourselves in a place where we might get hurt again.

It’s very sad when people feel that God has disappointed them

Disappointment stops us from praying bold prayers – we only pray “safe” prayers. It stops us from stepping out on a limb in faith for God – we won’t risk being disappointed again. It stops us expecting miracles from God! It stops us from getting excited about God!

In this situation there is something very important to say. God does not disappoint people! So if we are disappointed it may be because we misunderstood God, or because we did the wrong thing or asked for the wrong thing. Often God is trying to teach us patience and faith but we want him to give us patience immediately – right now. God does not disappoint us.

Are you feeling disappointed about anything tonight? Disappointed with life? Disappointed with other people? Disappointed with God?

1. Take your disappointments to God

PSALM 31 1 In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
9 Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.

If life has disappointed us – if people have let us down – take it to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy-laden, Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge, Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee, Thou wilt find a solace there.

God longs to help us and heal us and give us his peace. We need to put our trust in God.

We need to take our disappointments to God, then you need to
2. Put your trust in God

When life has disappointed us or people have disappointed us, we should put our trust in God.
14 But I trust in you, LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’
15 My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
16 Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.
17 Let me not be put to shame, LORD, for I have cried out to you;

24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.

Sometimes people can feel that it is God himself who has disappointed us.

Isaiah28:16 So this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who trusts will never be dismayed. Will never be disappointed. (NIV 1984)

That verse is so important that it is quoted at least three times in N.T. Roman chapter 9 and chapter 11 and also in
1 Peter 2:6 “Look! I’m setting a stone in Zion, a cornerstone in the place of honor.
Whoever trusts in this stone as a foundation will never have cause to regret it.” MESSAGE

Christ is the cornerstone! If we build our lives on Him He will never let us down. He is the sure unshakeable foundation. He will NEVER disappoint us! No disappointments!

We take our disappointments to God and put our trust in God and then
3. Put your hope in God

There are no hopeless situations – only people who have lost hope!
“Hope is not a passion for the possible, but a passion for the promise!”
With God ALL things are possible. If we will only trust in God’s promises.

Psalm 25 1 In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.
2 I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, (will EVER be disgraced!)

ISAIAH 49 23 ,,, you will know that I am the LORD;
those who hope in me will not be disappointed.’

These are the promises of the ALMIGHTY all powerful Sovereign God who is MORE THAN ABLE to keep his promises. These are the promises of the HOLY and JUST God who is totally righteous and would never break His promises. These are the promises of the ALL-LOVING God who IS love – who loves us so much that he gave His Son Jesus Christ to redeem us – who loves us so much that He would NEVER let us down! So we put our hopes in God.

ROMANS 5:3-5 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

If we are suffering disappointment or discouragement or even persecution – don’t give up! True hope in God WILL NOT disappoint us.

MESSAGE ROMANS 5v 5 … we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Those who hope in me WILL NOT be disappointed!
No-one whose hope is in you will EVER be put to shame!

You may be disappointed about something tonight. Something small. Something big. Something overwhelmingly crushing huge! Disappointed with life. Disappointed with people. Disappointed with God. Take the antidote to disappointment tonight.
1.Bring your disappointments to God – open up – tell him how you are feeling.
2. Put your trust in God again. Take a leap of faith. He is completely worthy of our trust.
3. Put your hope in God again. Pray prayers of faith daring to expect God to do great things. You may have asked for blessings before and the answer has been “no”. Pray again tonight – dare to hope that this time the answer will be “yes”. No disappointments!
Those who hope in me WILL NOT be disappointed!
No-one whose hope is in you will EVER be put to shame!

But then, what else can we do when it is another person who has upset us? When they let us down? When they break their promises? When they say things which are spiteful or untrue? When they do things which damage us physically or mentally or emotionally or spiritually? What do we do when somebody hurts us?

In such circumstances it is perfectly natural to be angry with the other person. We have talked before about coping with anger and how sometimes some people deal with their anger in unhelpful ways. Sometimes people respond with aggression, or by becoming passive-aggressive. Sometimes the anger is displaced onto innocent bystanders or the anger turns inwards and gets bottled up.

Ephesians 4 26 ‘In your anger do not sin’: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
Good News Bible If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day.
New Living Translation: “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”
In our session on dealing with anger we said these things.
Step 1 – take things slowly.
James 1 19 … everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires
Step 2 Pray

Step 3 Find ways forward – which will normally mean forgiving the other person. The Bible calls Christians to forgive people who offend us or hurt us or disappoint us.

Colossians 3 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

C.S.Lewis has said, “Everybody agrees forgiveness is a beautiful idea until we have something to forgive.”

The essence of Christian forgiveness is that God makes a way for us to be forgiven BEFORE we repent.

“It was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) As Jackie Pullinger puts it, “Jesus didn’t wait for me to make good before he died for me.” The Father is out looking waiting for the prodigal to return BEFORE the prodigal comes to his senses and returns to his Father and confesses and repents. (Luke 15) The paralysed man in Mark 2:5 and the woman caught in adultery in John 8:11 are forgiven BEFORE they repent. God forgives us BEFORE we come to him and ask for forgiveness. So in the same way we should seek the grace to forgive others before they repent, before they apologise, even if they never do admit their wrongdoing or say sorry.

Remember the words Jesus spoke as he was dying for our sins. “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” Jesus sets us an example of God’s kind of forgiveness. Jesus calls us to forgive all those who have harmed us – not for their sake but for our own.
George Herbert wrote, “He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven, for everyone has need to be forgiven.”
We pray, “forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”

God’s love forgives AND forgets. 1 Corinthians 13:5 Love keeps no record of wrongs.

There was once a woman who was never known to hold resentment against anyone. One time a friend reminded her of a cruel thing that had happened to her some years previously. The woman seemed not to remember the incident. “Don’t you remember the wrong that was done you?” the friend asked. The woman answered calmly, “No, I distinctly remember forgetting that.”

So God calls us to forgive each other as He has forgiven us.

The story goes that when Leonardo da Vinci was painting the Last Supper, he had an intense, bitter argument with a fellow painter. Leonardo was so enraged that he decided to paint the face of his enemy into the face of Judas. That way the hated painter’s face would be preserved for ages in the face of the betraying disciple. When Leonardo finished Judas, everyone easily recognized the face of the painter with whom Leonardo quarrelled.
Leonardo continued to work on the painting. But as much as he tried, he could not paint the face of Christ. Something was holding him back.
Leonardo decided his hatred toward his fellow painter was the problem. So he worked through his hatred by repainting Judas’ face, replacing the image of his fellow painter with another face. Only then was he able to paint Jesus’ face and complete the masterpiece.

So if somebody has disappointed you or hurt you in any way, pray that you will be given God’s grace to forgive them from your heart. Take your disappointments to God. Pray. Put your trust in God. Whoever trusts in him will never be disappointed. And put your hope in God.
Those who hope in me WILL NOT be disappointed!
No-one whose hope is in you will EVER be put to shame!

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