Alan Bailey

Dealing with disappointment

Disappointment

Disappointment can be simply devastating. Did you see the faces of some of the losers at the Olympics? Faces contorted with agony, grief, shock and sheer disbelief. Expectations long entertained were dashed to pieces, the climax of countless hours of preparation shattered in an inglorious anti-climax. It was as though their world stood still, showing them what they hated to seeā€”that all their hopes were in tatters.

Maybe fierce competitors are far too hard on themselves, placing tremendous store on winning, whatever the cost. Disappointment will always be lurking for such people. Of course, friends and loved ones share the sense of loss.

What can anyone do?

Anyone who hasn't felt keen disappointment in life hasn't lived. All of us could think of significant experiences of this kind. But what can be done to help when we are deeply hurt?

Some suggestions.
1. Initially, we need a period of private grief, trying to keep ourselves together, but at the same time, allowing the full force of the thing to hit us. At this stage, friends ought to leave the person alone for a while. If not, saying nothing may be better than offering platitudes that won't help.
2. Thinking quietly about it, we should try to settle the truest available account of what has happened. If we have to face something, it should be a true version, not something incorrect or exaggerated.
3. We should try to weigh the importance of the disappointment with other matters of significance in our lives. Losing a race is better than losing our life, our reputation, or our health. Some things are going to be forgotten a little further down the track, or at least much of their importance will be.
4. Though it is hard to do, we need to turn the focus of our attention away from ourselves. It may take time and discipline, but it is important to look around and see that we are not the only pebble on the beach. Perhaps a little therapy would be to offer sympathy to someone who is much worse off than we are.


A further dimension

Life as a whole can be disappointing. We need to have the long view. The things of this short life will one day be gone forever. Only what God gives in His mercy will remain. The promises about this are great indeed. He offers us a new dimension of life. A life of acceptance with God and fellowship with Jesus Christ. The fact that this life never ends makes a huge difference to our outlook and our values. We know that all our earthly disappointments will be swallowed up in the joys of forever being with the Lord.

God is not a let-down. He says Those who trust in me will never be disappointed.

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