Disappointment Stinks


We are all acquainted with it.  We all hate it.  But some of us feel guilty about it, believing that if we were really good enough Christians, we would skate through life unscathed by disappointment.  Some of us even tidy up our hurt by saying “Praise the Lord, anyway!”

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I am NOT saying we shouldn’t give thanks in all things.  We should.  God’s word tells us we should.  In fact, giving thanks in all things is an essential, necessary component for handling life’s disappointments.

But still, disappointment stinks.

You know what I love about the Bible (among other things)?  It’s real.  God’s word doesn’t fancy up our feelings.  It just calls life like it is.  You want to know what God’s word has to say about disappointment?  Get this-

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).

Pretty down-to-earth assessment, wouldn’t you say?

I don’t know about you, but when something I long for seems within reach, then doesn’t pan out, I feel disappointed.  When something I hope for doesn’t take place, I experience that sinking feeling somewhere in my gut that others can’t see, but I know to be as real as any mark on my face or disease in my body.  Hope deferred makes the heart sick.  It just does.

So what do we do when we our hopes are deferred and our heart is sick?

How do we handle life when…

The medicine we were told would work, doesn’t?

The child we thought was so close to a turn around, isn’t?

The job we were certain was in the bag, wasn’t?

The person we counted on, couldn’t?

The dream we thought would materialize, didn’t?

First, we get real.  We acknowledge our disappointment to ourselves, and then to God.  He’s the one who inspired the words “hope deferred makes the heart sick” in the first place.  He knows.  He understands. He cares.

Then we take our sick little hurting heart and place it in the tender hand of God.  We examine our hopes and come to terms with the fact that our ultimate hope has to be placed in one who loves us and has a plan for us. Our hope has to be in God.

King David illustrates this process in his intimate prayer recorded in Psalm 42:10-1:

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.”

In the midst of David’s heartfelt cry to God, he examined his heart, asking himself, “Why am I so downcast?  What’s going on inside me that’s disturbing my soul?”  David’s heart was sick because his hope had been deferred. So he gave himself a little talking to. “Self, put your hope in God because you will yet praise him”.  In other words, David reminded himself not to put his ultimate hope in his hopes, but to put his ultimate hope in the goodness of God.

Disappointment is a fact of life.  Deferred hope makes our heart sick. God knows and understands our feelings.  But the sovereignty of God can be trusted. When disappointment comes knocking at our door, one truth will carry us through, even when our hearts are hurting and our souls are sick with grief—our hope can’t be in our hopes.  Our hope must be in God.


  1. Billie

    Timely Donna. Thank you for sharing your heart and wisdom with us.
    Love and blessings, Billie

  2. Laura Jones

    I feel like I do every thing I am into putting my hope in God and lay my burdens at His feet. But the hurt and disappointment just seems to get worse — there is no light at the end the tunnel — I can’t even find a tunnel. I fully relate to your words, but for some of us the disappointment and despair seem endless even as I seek the Lord.

    1. Laura, my heart hurts for you. But please know that God’s heart hurts for you more. When I have gone through seasons of intense disappointment I literally lived in the Psalms. Reading the cries of David in the midst of heartache gave me both comfort and perspective. I am praying for you this day. 🙂

  3. The word “disappointment” comes from two words: “Dis” meaning apart, away, a negative, reversing force, and “appointment,” meaning an arrangement to meet. I’m usually disappointed when the time frame of my expectations are not fulfilled, when God does not show up according to my personal calendar and comfort setting. And naturally, when I want something, even something from God, my expectations are that He grants my request NOW! God, of course, has better sense than to give us what we want when we want it, especially when it will suit us better if He delays the answer. Too often I’m like the little boy who is disappointed he can’t have some cake twenty minutes before dinner—I only see what I want when I want it, and often wonder if my dad understands how badly I desire something.

    Donna, just like you said, I’ve had to learn trust—trust in God, and not in my hopes of a quick fulfillment. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Carolyn

    So TRUE. Recently, the Lord reminded me that He’s got a plan, and the pits are part of it. God loves me no matter what. During the pits I need to reach out to my Heavenly Father for hugs and rest in His arms. Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid, trust Me” Mark 5:36

  5. Laurie

    When we think we are turning a corner with our teenage daughter, and we actually end up running off into a ditch, my husband and I try to remember we always have hope and the ball game isn’t over. We trust God. Sometimes, (okay many times) my husband reminds me that things will change. Easy for him to say, he is at work all day and not in the trenches at home like I am. Anyway, your blog spoke to me today. You are so right Donna. We need to have hope and trust God. I can’t imagine where I would be today without God and the hope and that one day our daughter will in fact not be a teenager anymore and may think her Dad and I know a thing or two about life after all. So today when I am thinking, “I can’t believe she actually thinks this is a good idea, or that I can’t believe she just said that, or, she actually wants to wear that out in public and I am going to be with her,” I know there is hope in God and I can have peace in my heart. Praise God!

  6. Pam Apffel

    Words of wisdom, Donna! Thanks for sharing such honest truth, and God’s amazing wisdom. Love you always!

  7. Gail

    Thank you (and God) for bringing these words (symbols for thoughts) to me when I needed them most. It has helped keep things in perspective, and is helping me through a challenging situation. Bless you.

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