Disappointments are inevitable; discouragement is not.
We all experience disappointments in life: “The doctor results aren’t what I hoped for.” “They didn’t respond like I thought.” “My efforts didn’t pay off like I wanted.” “I wasn’t recognized as I’d expected.” “I didn’t think I’d still be in these circumstances by now.” Disappointments in all shapes and sizes that can crush your day, your year, or even your life.
Disappointment has it’s roots in dashed expectations. We envisioned one thing but get something far less desirable, if even tolerable at all. The picture of our vision and the picture of our current reality don’t match. The result is cognitive dissonance that manifests in stress, tension, and anxiety arousal. What you choose to do in that moment determines who wins the battleground for your mind.
It’s important and healthy to acknowledge disappointment when you encounter it. Pretending it doesn’t exist robs you of authentic emotion and the invitation to share your lament with the Lord. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” – Jesus, Matthew 11:28 (NIV). “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you,” – Psalm 55:22 (NKJV). There is the promise of a great exchange when we bring our disappointment to the cross of Christ and trade it for his complete and incomprehensible peace.
But for most of us, that’s a difficult thing to do. Instead of receiving his peace, we continue to revisit our situation, entertaining it with our time, attention, and brooding emotion. This constant feeding of disappointment grows the problem in our mind and eventually justifies its inhabitance in our heart. Moreover, nursing disappointment becomes a habit of thinking. Rather than taking every thought captive and guarding the wellspring of our heart, we permit emotional hijacks to frame our perception and affect our perspectives in life.
Unchecked disappointment eventually leads to discouragement that can downward spiral into depression and despair, where you have lost hope or confidence in the goodness of God. It hardens the heart and robs you of peace, joy, faith, and trust in GOD. It is the soil where the enemy plants lies in your mind that are contrary to God’s true nature and intentions for you. To the extent you subconsciously agree and continue to focus on what you don’t have, you deny God’s favor and provision for you and war against the redemptive work of Christ in you.
It is a discipline of mind and habit of the heart to become consciously aware of when you are dwelling in disappointment. It begins with a commitment to pull down strongholds – those thought patterns that conflict with the word of God. Ephesians 4 tells us to be renewed in the spirit of your mind. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take every thought captive that sets itself up against God and make it obedient to Christ. God tells us to take on the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
Defeating disappointment begins by being confident in this – God gives you both the power and authority to win the battleground for your mind. But you must choose where you will position your focus. You can dwell in disappointment over what you don’t have or develop a grateful attitude of abundance and abiding in the presence of the Lord.
When disappointments arrive, acknowledge them.
I even speak them out loud by confessing, “Disappointment, I feel you, but I will not entertain you. Instead, I choose the glory and favor of God.” Then reset your attention, not on the things of this world, but on your heavenly Father who is good and desires to give you good things.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him,” – Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV).
Use the Word of God as the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6) that God gives us to defeat discouragement. It is your weapon to war against the enemy that seeks to attack your mind and set up the camp of discouragement and despair in your heart.
Stand strong in the Lord. Recognize the battle. Reset your attention on the things of God. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV), being confident that “all things work together for those who love God and have been called according to his purposes,” – Romans 8:28.