We all experience seasons of profound disappointment in life, and clichés from well-meaning people about praying more or reading more Scripture aren’t really that helpful.
In fact, it seems that this over-simplified advice can create a kind of denial of the pain that stuffs it deeper and can cause disappointment to lead to chronic discouragement and ultimately depression and despair.
There’s a good chance you might know exactly what I’m talking about.
As I’ve been navigating a season of my own disappointment, I’ve been exploring how to deal with disappointment toward the Lord in a healthy way.
It seems that the Bible is full of people who faced disappointment. So what can we observe? I am struck by the stark honesty and raw emotions of people like Elijah who was being hunted by Jezebel and cried out to the Lord asking God to take his life (1 Kings 19:4), like Hagar who went away by herself to weep in the desert because she could not watch her son die of thirst (Gen 21:16), and like Hannah who wept bitterly in deep anguish to the Lord because of torment from her husband’s other wife due to her childlessness (1 Samuel 1:10), not to mention heroes like Moses, David, Job, and Paul who wrestled with disappointment too.
Perhaps one of the most striking examples of this unfiltered emotional honesty was Naomi, who said this in Ruth 1:20-21:
“Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
Honestly, I think I have always subconsciously assumed that these cries of despair were simply the sinfulness of these biblical characters in a weak moment where they didn’t trust God enough in their circumstances. That they should have had more faith in that moment and then they wouldn’t have struggled with the deep anguish.
But when you look at each of these cases, God shows up after these characters pour out their honest unfiltered disappointment, sadness, and despair to the Lord. Maybe this emotional honesty is the key to dealing with disappointment toward God? Maybe it is this unfiltered anguish that opens a door to growing a deeper faith and experiencing God’s comforting presence in the midst of disappointment?
I hope that we can also learn to courageously navigate disappointment by being desperately honest with the Lord, and that is my prayer for you as well.
How are you facing disappointment today?