Handling Disappointment

Estimated reading time: 5 minute(s)

disappointed-emmaThere are more than a handful of individuals living here, under this roof.

That’s a lot of opinions, a lot of wants and needs, and a lot of expectations.

And, it’s also a lot of disappointments.

Lately, those have come sharply into focus for the two youngest inhabitants of this home.

At ages three and five, these two are learning (many times daily) that life does not always go as you hope it will, no matter how hard you try to conform it to your will.

And their response to this? Not always the best. Screaming, crying, pouting, yelling mean words, and even aiming projectiles at the offender!

So what do we do with all of these disappointments? What advice can I offer to these tiny, inexperienced people?

It’s a Heart Thing

First, and probably last, it helps so much to remember to be thankful. Look for something good. Whatever it might be. There is always something good.

disappointed-camIf Emma was hoping to get some time to ride her bike but she finds out that Mom and Dad had planned other things that need to be done first … and then, when all that is done it rains … that’s a disappointment. Maybe a big one!

If Cam had his heart set on playing with a certain new toy, but then while he was doing something Mom asked him to do, one of his siblings decided they would play with that toy … there is disappointment. And crying. (See photo to the right.)

That’s sad, for sure. Especially if it’s something he’s really set his heart on. But it won’t be long before his brother or sister has tired of the toy, and he can enjoy some time with it then. And in the meantime, there are many other things he can spend his time doing.

Easy, right?

Well, as we all know… it is not very easy when these disappointments are attached to our hearts.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23

Your heart will always be where your treasure is. Luke 12:34

One way to deal with disappointments is to realize that if we treasure things that are temporary and changing, well, we’re going to face lots of heart-level disappointments. One certain thing in life is change.

This is clearly part of the learning process when we’re three or five years old. It must and will happen.

Bigger Things

But what about bigger disappointments? What about when kids get older and start making choices that affect more people than just a frustrated sibling? What about when money ebbs more than it flows? What about things against which we are completely powerless, like the choices of others, and even death?

What then?

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called. Romans 8:28

There are not words, really, to deal with the harder, more grave disappointments of life. Especially in the moments of hurt. Often, the truth is, you can’t go back.

In those moments we learn from dire need to really hold onto what we know to be true about Father, and how he loves us. That his plan is for our good. This truth becomes so much more sharply focused when whatever else we were counting on is pulled away from us.

Disappointments definitely come in many sizes.

It Always Comes Back to Trust(ing)

The most important truth in Scripture might be what Paul says just a couple sentences later in that same letter.

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Romans 8:31

This can not be overstated: If God is for us—for you—then who or what could ever be against us—against you. What could ever possible overcome you? There will always be disappointments. Forever to the end of time maybe?

But our Father will always be there with us, through them, and he is for us.

That’s one lesson I hope I am conveying to the tiny people God has entrusted to me. I want them to know that their Father is for them. I can say that with my words, both about their Creator Father, and about myself, but even more effective—even better—I can display that through my actions.

So what do we do with disappointments? We remember that our Father is for us, and with us through them. He’s sad when we are sad, glad when we are glad, and he’s always rooting for us.

(Even when we insist on making things worse for ourselves… which ends in bigger disappointments.)

We’ll never stop being disappointed. Even if we could possibly get all of our own choices right—which we can not!—there are 6 billion or so other people out there who would have to do the same, and the whole rest of the broken creation in which we exist.

Not going to happen.

So … we learn to deal with all of the disappointments of the day by being aware of where our treasure (and so, our heart) is placed, and remembering to be thankful—focus on the good—and really foremost of all … remembering that God is for us.

Remembering those things, and with some time and practice (maybe a few decades worth, or even a century or two?) maybe life’s disappointments won’t wrinkle up our faces quite so badly.

Although, maybe the wrinkly times just reveal the wealth and depth of our experience walking through these disappointments with the One who is for us.

Maybe looking wrinkly isn’t all that bad.


  1. This is beautiful. Compassion towards kids and acknowledging our own disappointments along with growing in trusting the truth that God is for us seems possible. It is thinking that there won’t be or shouldn’t be disappointed where problems and expectations happen. It is good to be reminded that He is for us in the midst of difficulty.


    1. I feel like that is what God has been slowly exposing me to over many recent years now: life is hard, and he walks us through it. Tantrums (no matter your number of years breathing air) are definitely a result of (usually) unreasonable expectations. The only one that really helps us is expecting our Father is good, loves us, and is with and for us. (Wait, is that four?) 🙂


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