There is no living man who has not experienced the bitterness of disappointment, and his brother’s dark shadow – the discouragement. We all experience brief moments of disappointment and depression, but sometimes it becomes a permanent, highly destructive mental state. The disappointment is a state of embitterment and the most common cause of discouragement. Very often they go hand-in-hand and intertwine.
The root of disappointment
The root of bitterness and disappointment lies in unfulfilled expectations, desires, unmet needs, and some form of trauma or loss. This is related to experiencing pain and suffering. When we focus our thoughts on the traumatic experiences, we become captives of the pain, anger, associated with them. This leads to increasing bitterness and changes our thinking towards victim mentality. We start to perceive ourselves as being wronged and offended.
This strengthens and establishes a wrong perception of one’s own identity, of the present and of the future. In this distorted reality, the focus is shifted from God’s love, provision, and restoration. Instead, it is occupied by the offended and wronged self. This paves the way for lasting discouragement and obstruction of our progress.
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Discouragement, in turn, is a state of oppression, a lack of hope, or a weak hope for something good. It includes negative expectations, depression, and heaviness. Discouragement blocks the walk with God and the process of setting and achieving goals. It brings a lack of courage and inertia to go on and overcome.
Both disappointment and discouragement feed on the distorted perception of self, God and the reality. They rest on perceiving and trusting lies, and of unprocessed and unreconciled traumatic experiences. The fact that God does not underestimate the destructive power of these states is the focus that God’s Word attributes to edification, exhortation, and comfort. Exhortation means encouragement and strengthening, reminding and returning to the truth, assurance of God’s love, support and healing.
The first steps to overcome disappointment and discouragement
The way to overcome disappointment and discouragement begins with choosing to recognize our feelings as well as their source. We should not suppress and ignore pain. The best way to confront the pain is to weep it out in the arms of God as our Father and friend, acknowledging His love and kindness.
The second step is the decision to let go of pain and bitterness by giving and accepting forgiveness. Next, we need to ask God to bring emotional healing of our pain. An important part of the change of focus is the conscious change of perspective. This becomes possible when we decide to let go of our past and put up with it. When we decide to look and go forward without turning back.
Two more steps to deal with disappointment and discouragement
God’s desire and will is for reconciliation and acceptance in hope. This includes every aspect of our lives, of the other people, of our losses and unmet expectations. God’s call is to let go of our ideas and expectations and turn our eyes and heart to Him, forward and upward. The movement with God is only forward and upward. God advises us in Proverbs 4:25 “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
The decision to move forward with God is a decision to expect good because God is good. And because “in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28). And His purpose is full recovery.
Put your hope in God as a Redeemer and Restorer
We regain our hope when we choose to put our trust in God as Redeemer and Restorer of everything, including the losses and tragedies in our lives – as a God who pays, compensates, rewards, vindicates and retributes. (Jeremiah 51:6) For even if all our hopes for certain things are not justified, in Christ God gives us another guarantee.
Christ is our personalized Hope not only for the beginning but also for the process and the successful completion of His restorative work in us and in the creation. It is the hope that in and with God there is nothing lost. It is the hope of glory in us. The word of God is full of stories about people whose sorrows and difficult periods have been compensated and turned into triumph and majesty by the power and love of God. This is the story of every believer.
Embrace the truth of your identity in Christ
We become immune to disappointment and discouragement when we deeply learn the truth that we are not the products of our past, nor are we defined by our dysfunctions, losses or shortcomings. What defines us is God’s redemptive work in us and by His grace. We grow in strength when we exercise in maintaining the right focus and when we do not push back God’s presence but actively reach after Him seeking and accepting His love and encouragement.
For God gives to His afflicted “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. So, they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor. (Isaiah 61:3).
What is your biggest disappointment? Which are the areas where we feel discouraged? You are welcome to share and comment!