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Disappointment: Five passages to get you through

By Rachel Watts

I’d say I spend 68% of my life as a determined optimist and the other bits a full-blown hopeless and moaning bundle of mess. Ironically, this figure may be optimistic in itself, but one thing I know is that when I’m down, it’s hard to be a happy worshipper. And the thing I’d say causing this the most? Disappointment.

Disappointment is the feeling of crushed expectations when you see the grade on that paper or you fail to make the cut for that sports team; it’s when you miss out on your first choice Uni, you don’t get that job or your friend starts dating someone you like. It’s when your ideas don’t match up with reality and you realise that somewhere along the line things have gone wrong, and we’re left asking where are you God?

Our disappointments may be different but we all share their crushing weight; the question is, what do we do next? I’m going to try and tackle this by breaking it down into 5 steps and 5 Bible passages:

1. Reality check

Psalm 139 and Psalm 18:29
Okay – the likelihood is you have overcome bigger mountains in life and there is a way forwards. We can say this with confidence when grounded in scriptures such as Psalm 139 where the Psalmist pours out just how much we mean to God and how in control He is: “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me” (v5). Arm yourself against disappointments with this passage: He knows our situations (v1-6), He has control (v7-12) and we were created and purposed far beyond our present understanding (v13-16). One of my favourite verses is from Psalm 18:29 – “with my God, I can scale a wall”. We can scale walls, climb mountains and even dance over death in Jesus – there are no limits to God’s power!

2. Believe in God’s plan for your life

Jeremiah 29:11-13
Jesus made the journey to the Cross so that people like us would never have to look at ourselves and be resigned to defeat. As followers of Jesus, we have the same power that conquered death on the Cross inside us; the Bible says we are more than conquerors and can shout this over any situation (check out all of Romans 8 for some epic fighting power). Look at what Jesus did on the Cross. With that much power soaked in that much grace, surely He can help us now? Cling to the promise that His plans are “to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

3. Trust

Isaiah 40
Sometimes, no matter how many often we hear this verse, we’re discouraged as it appears His plans aren’t working out. We’re tempted to think we’ve been forgotten, but Isaiah 40 has an answer for this: “Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God… His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isaiah 40:28-30). This passage calls us to lift up our eyes, seek Him and be refuelled with hope and strength. Quit trying to understand why something happened and start trusting Him and His way. Stretch out; He will come and pull you on (Jeremiah 29:12-13).

4. You are not the product of your mistakes

Ephesians 3
You were created with purpose and power, with your ways “rooted and established in love” (Ephesians 3:17). Walking with Him promises a life where He will do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” through His power within us as followers of Jesus (Ephesians 3:20). The disappointments you carry do not define you – Jesus calls us to come to Him and lay down our baggage (see Matthew 11:28). Take Him at His word and let Him in.

5. Dig out that hope and try again

Isaiah 40
I love the idea of our lives as a working tapestry where God is the weaver – we see the back of the tapestry with all its tangled knots, whereas God sees the front – its potential, progress and ultimate perfection. These knock backs are just a part of your story; He uses our broken pieces and weaves them into the beautiful tapestry we will only fully understand on the other side. Read through Isaiah 40 and let Him comfort you. Yes, we are weak. Yes, we stumble and fall. But if we lift up our eyes as the passage says, we follow a God who will renew our strength: “They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (v31).

Keep going, weary warrior. Hope in the freedom of the image in Isaiah 40:27-31, let your heart soar and dreams multiply – but let them all drift up to Him; rest waiting for Him to unfold what comes next. C. S. Lewis writes “Remember, He is the artist, you are the picture. Quietly submit to being painted”. What is He calling you to give to Him?

The Author
Rachel Watts is a 21 year old student at the University of Bath studying Politics and International Relations. She is currently on a placement year, doing some work with Open Doors, working for an MP and heading out to the South African sunshine with a charity called LIV Village in 2017. She loves a good coffee, being in forests, people who smile at you randomly and has a deep, deep love for peanut butter.

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