There are thousands of reasons to feel disappointment every day. Some things we just brush off as trivial and other things really get under our skin, blast our emotions, and overtake our very being. How we deal with disappointment is a choice and we would all have to admit that sometimes we have not made very good choices as we allow disappointment to conquer our character and bring us down. Let’s look at disappointment and a scene from the Bible.
There was a man named Jonah in the Bible who was a prophet of God which meant he was God’s mouthpiece. When God wanted a word said to the people, He would speak through a prophet in those days. Jonah was given the task to go to Nineveh and tell them God was going to destroy the place in 40 days. We all know the story of how Jonah ran from God’s orders and ended up in a storm on the sea, being thrown into the sea and swallowed by a great fish prepared by God. Jonah repented while in the belly of the great fish and was willing to do whatever God wanted him to do, so God caused the fish to spit up Jonah and he went to Nineveh and preached God’s message. Lo and behold, the people repented and God showed mercy to them, which made Jonah very disappointed, and caused him to be angry with God. Jonah did not like the people of Nineveh and we are told that he ran from God’s call knowing that God would show mercy to people he didn’t much care for. When God did show mercy to the people of Nineveh, he was beyond disappointment; he was ticked off.
Jonah 4:2-3 (ESV) 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
Have you ever felt like that? You were sure God had plans for you and they didn’t work out so out of your disappointment you let God have it. Maybe you didn’t verbally tell God off, but you thought about it.
The story of Jonah and his disappointment is the fact that Jonah missed out on the good that God was doing all about him, in him, and for him. Jonah was saved from the storm and the whale’s belly. Jonah was given great success as a preacher in that the people to whom he preached really responded. But Jonah was disappointed because things didn’t turn out the way Jonah thought they should. Before we pile on Jonah too much, consider how many times we dwell on the disappointments of life and miss out on the good God is doing in us, around us, and even for us. Take a step back and see if that doesn’t apply to your present situation.
We often quote Romans 8:28 to someone who is in the midst of a disappointment and may be angry with God. But in order to get the impact and understand what good God is bringing, we need more of the text.
Romans 8:28-30 (ESV) 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
God’s purpose is that we would become like Jesus. In other words, He is developing our character. Like Jonah’s character was developed and God’s lessons learned through his disappointment, so his eyes were opened to a much greater view of God’s love and mercy, as well as His sovereignty to do as God pleases and what He pleases is always perfect. Likewise, whenever we face disappointment, we can know that God is working in us and around us and through us to reach others in ways we may never know. God knows that we would never grow without the disappointment.
This account may not make your disappointment any easier, but you can know that your disappointment is not an evidence God has deserted you. Rather, He is taking you to a higher plane of knowing Him and His love for you that you would not have known otherwise. A greater understanding of His love leads to a greater reliance upon His power. This power, even in the midst of the disappointment, is able to bring about great things in and through your life.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.