The Chaplain's Notebook


Since the beginning of time, mankind has experienced disappointments. Disappointment comes in all sizes and at various moments in a person’s life. There are multiple reasons we find ourselves facing dissatisfaction with certain events or people in our lives. One cause of discontent is when our expectations or desires are not fulfilled, and the other is when our hopes do not materialize. Disappointment can be a passing emotion over a temporary loss, or it may result in a powerful blow when something or someone permanently changes our lives. A catastrophic event can remain with us for a lifetime, shadowing and affecting all areas of our life.

If you are reading this article, I will venture to guess that you have experienced some form of disappointment within your own life. Interestingly, the heartfelt emotions and distressing thoughts that surround disappointment are not a sin. However, how we handle our displeasure is of crucial importance and further impacts our lives and the lives of others.

If you have read the Holy Bible, there are numerous illustrations of disappointment. Barren women like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Elizabeth suffered discouragement and hostile criticism because of their inability to conceive a child. Job and Joseph both experienced periods of defeat, setbacks and suffering. Even in their anguish, they experienced occasions where people failed to support them. Elijah the Prophet expected God to affirm His ability and His power through specific acts, but God acted outside of Elijah’s plans. Elijah also anticipated that his relationship with God placed him above reproach, but he later found himself fleeing for his life in a cave.

Moses, a Hebrew, endured disappointments throughout his life. Although Moses was raised as an Egyptian in the palace, he risked his life and position by killing an Egyptian guard who was beating a Hebrew slave. Imagine his surprise when he confronted two fellow Hebrew men fighting among themselves, and they blasted Moses for murdering the Egyptian guard. Moses had to flee from his homeland for 40 years and live in the desert as a nomad. Moses had two unrealistic beliefs surrounding these events. He believed the Hebrew people would understand his intentions in murdering the Egyptian. Moses assumed Hebrew people would treat each other better than the Egyptian guards treated them. Moses believed he would gain the approval or support of the Hebrew people. Not one of those expectations was realized, and Moses was left with the consequences of his actions.

Every one of us experiences disappointment. The depth of disappointment varies from one situation to the next. Each person’s outlook on life affects their response when facing hopelessness, loss or frustration. Since we frequently have faith that people will respond to us in a particular way, we are frequently disenchanted. When we rely on the conditions of life to give us satisfaction or meaning, we are vulnerable to discouragement. While disappointment has been a familiar occurrence throughout the ages, there must be a reasonable means of handling it.

Jeremiah 17:7-8: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Proverbs 3:5-8: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Although each of the people previously mentioned met disappointment, they also came to know satisfaction and contentment through God.