How to Stay Strong in Disappointment

Wouldn't it be nice if life consisted only of pleasant surprises, not the disappointing ones?

And yet when we meet disappointment head-on, it is a true test of the strength of our faith.

I recently received news that was gravely disappointing. I wasn't prepared for it in the least. It was shocking, really. God had been on a roll with blessings in my life. I guess I'd gotten a little comfortable. And this disappointing news couldn't have come at a worse time...a week before Christmas, just days after celebrating my daughter's college graduation, and just a week prior to my husband's transition into a new season of life that carried with it a lot of financial uncertainty.

My family was daily looking for the little assurances that God had our back and we were constantly praising him for all the times he came through. And now, it looked like the door to my golden opportunity and financial stability had slammed shut. My first reaction, spoken nearly aloud, was "God, this is so out of character for You."

And then I suddenly realized something: God doesn't do anything out of character.

  • If God's response to my request appeared out of character for him, then it was is my understanding of the situation that was in question, not his character.
  • If God's timing appears to be wrong, then it is my perception of his timing that I will doubt, not his ability to coordinate all things.
  • If God's love appears to be in question - because of how he has responded to my situation - then it is my trust that is in question, not God's love.

It was then that I understood. It wasn't God's character that was being put to the test in my disappointing circumstances. It was mine. Would my faith stand an unexpected turn? Would I take only blessings from God and not the disappointments, too? Or will I trust him, wholeheartedly, that he knows exactly what he's doing and perhaps this closed door means an even better one will soon be opening?

It's been said that when God closes one door, he opens another. But when we can't immediately see that other door, we tend to panic. At least I do.

It has helped me to remember three things about disappointment:

1. Disappointment is a very real part of life.
2. Disappointment is something God can use to grow me into someone who is more like his Son.
3. Disappointment is the measuring stick for how strong my faith is.

I realized, through my reaction to this disappointment, that this comfortable woman - who was secure in her ability, her work, and her finances - was suddenly desperate for God. Desperate for him. And that's exactly where he wants me to be.

And, it occurred to me that I had actually prayed for this disappointment.

Just prior to receiving my disappointing news, I had been praying for change - in my personal life, my marriage, my professional life, and my spiritual life. And yet, more of the same never means change. In fact, growth always means change. God was giving me what I asked for - change! It just came in a package I called "disappointment" and in a way that I didn't expect.

I want my response to God in the disappointments of life to be just as pleasing to Him as my praise during the blessings of life. Can God trust me to be faithful to him regardless of my circumstances, regardless of when he chooses to bless and when he chooses to withhold?

Job once said "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him" (Job 13:15, NKJV). I haven't been "slayed" - not in the least. I've just been disappointed. So I long for the song of my heart to be, "Though I don't understand why he allowed this, still I will trust him."

Have you been gravely disappointed in your circumstances, too? Are you wondering why God has allowed - or not allowed - something in your life? It's possible he wants you to be desperate for him, too. When we can say our hope is in him, not in what he will do, then we get a little clearer picture of what it means to follow him faithfully.

Trust him through this time of disappointment or uncertainty. Wait for the door that he may soon be opening now that this one has been shut. And quiet your heart, along with me, so that we can say, as the Psalmist did:

"I have calmed myself and quieted my ambitions.
I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content"
(Psalm 131:2).

Disappointment or not, I want my faith to be strong and my heart to be pleasing to him. Don't you?

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of a dozen books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 100,000 copies sold), When a Woman Overcomes Life's Hurts, and her newest, God's Whispers to a Woman's Heart. For more on her books and ministry, or for free resources to strengthen your soul, see her website:

Publication date: March 18, 2014

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