Disappointment in God? We’ve all been there. After all, you earnestly pray for something, and it doesn’t happen. In light of whatever it is, you feel like God has let you down.
If that describes your situation now or in the past, I am glad you are here.
I. Psalm 4:7–8 David’s Response to the People’s Disappointment in God
“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
A series of poor harvests had occurred. And under those circumstances, the Israelites became disappointed in God (Psa. 4:4). As a result, they were turning from God (Psa. 4:3) to idolatry (Psa. 4:7; Hos. 2:8).
On account of their ungodly behavior, David told the Israelites to stop chasing idols. Instead, he reassures them that God does and will watch over his people and will answer their prayers
Moreover, Psalm 4 gives us a refreshing picture of a secure and devout person at the end of the day.
- Finally, after an anxious day, we glimpse David’s godly reflections before he goes to bed confident in God
- With the result that he is personally composed, free from any disturbance of spirit.
Only a peaceful state of mind can enjoy God’s gift of sleep.
- Conversely, a guilty conscience can never lie down in quiet
Once he is reconciled to God and confident in his love, he knows:
- He can down in peace and sleep securely
- He is guarded by an omnipotent and merciful God unquestionably watching over him
- In the final analysis, God will protect him through the dangers and temptations of the day and night
II. Chasing Idols Can Lead to Disappointment in God
Disappointment is “the sadness caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.”
By the same token, disappointment in God usually means that he didn’t give you what you wanted. In brief, you feel cheated because you feel God “owes you.”
Why do you feel that way?
It could be that your deepest “desires” are not godly pursuits but chasing some idol (Gal. 5:19-21).
III. Renewing our Minds
Accordingly, if you want to be free from disappointment in God stop sinful habits.
In particular, you should renew your mind (Rom. 12:2). Biblical thinking involves renewing our minds to regain control of our thought life.
I explain in detail how to renew your mind in my article Renewing Your Mind to Defeat Emotional Problems.
Renewing our minds, in effect, means seeing things from God’s perspective. And until we do, we can’t experience true joy.
As a result, that requires making some conscious choices. In addition, you will need to commit to spiritual activities.
IV. What is Pulling the Train?
Consider this simple illustration of correct and incorrect thinking using a train.
When you are thinking correctly:
- Usually, your mind or what you think (engine) is in control
- Your thinking directs your actions and behaviors (boxcar)
- And in turn, your behaviors determine your emotions (caboose)
However, when sinful emotions control your thinking and behavior, the pattern is backward. Under those circumstances, it’s common to feel “out of control.”
To rein in these galloping emotions, you must change how you “think.” In other words, you make the conscious decision NOT to be controlled by emotions. But instead, you decide what you think.
However, I hear you say, “That sounds great in theory, but how am I supposed to control my thinking?”
In essence, renewing your mind means controlling your thinking. And for this purpose, the best way is the “put off and put on” principle of Ephesians 4:17-5:21
- At first, start by “putting off” old thinking patterns of sin and self-focus (1 Pet. 5:7)
- Subsequently, “put on” something better.
- In particular spiritual practices to overcome your disappointment in God
- For instance, prayer, Bible devotions, godly living, and relying on the Holy Spirit (Matt. 22:37-39)
In sum, stop letting your emotions lead your thinking and behavior.
Instead, put on a renewed mind of godly thinking by:
- Devoting yourself, especially to God’s word, prayer, and the Holy Spirit
- While simultaneously remembering Jesus’ sacrifice and forgiveness, and our eternal life with him
At first, it may be hard to renew your mind if disappointment in God has become deeply rooted.
But if you remain faithful in this teaching, he will eventually give you peace.
I hear you saying, “All this may be true, but how can I practically deal with my disappointment with God?”
V. 6 Steps to Practically Deal with Disappointment in God
1. Step 1: Check Your Motives
In the first place, check your motives. For example:
- Why do you want what you want?
- Is it for selfish gain?
- Is it something in the final analysis that glorifies God (1 Cor. 10:31)?
Be explicitly honest with yourself. In this case, if your desires are out of alignment with God’s will STOP CHASING THEM!
It is undoubtedly true that if you aren’t getting what you want, it’s because God knows it would not be the best for you.
You need to align your desires with his.
2. Step 2: Prayer
Begin every day with devotions and prayer. This overcomes and avoids disappointment in God
You should not pray once but continually (1 Thess. 5:17). In view of this, you should:
- Cast your challenges during the day on the Lord, relying on him (1 Pet. 5:7)
- Specifically, ask that the Lord’s will be done in the situation (1 John 5:14-15)
- Likewise, keep bringing your request before the Lord if it is God-honoring
- Trust that even you don’t get what you want, its due to him having something better planned (Isaiah 55:8-9)
3. Step 3: Study and Memorize Scripture
Since Scripture is God’s special revelation, it is the ultimate source of his character.
As you study, you will eventually become more intimate with God. Specifically, you will:
- Focus on Jesus and not your circumstances
- Understand God is always good, regardless of what is happening in your life (Psalm 145:9)
- Trust Jesus despite disappointment in God
a. Additional Scriptures to renew your mind to overcome disappointment with God
These Scriptures are just a few of God’s many promises to you. These verses will help you trust him even when things are tough.
- Psalm 34:18–19 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
- Psalm 37:23–26 The steps of a man are established by the Lord when he delights in his way; 24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. 25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. 26 He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing.
- Psalm 138:3 On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.
- Psalm 138:7–8 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. 8 The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
- 2 Corinthians 4:8–10 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
- Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
- Hebrews 10:35–38 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what is promised. 37 For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
- 1 Peter 1:6–9 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
4. Step 4: Rely on the Indwelling Holy Spirit Every Step of the Way!
You will surely overcome challenges through God’s word and the Holy Spirit.
By relying on the Holy Spirit, you can:
- Firstly, cultivate the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22)
- Secondly, put off sinful idols
- Thirdly, willingly choose to be free from disappointment
- Fourthly, recall memorized Scripture you need in times of disappointment
- Fifthly, remind yourself of Jesus’ sacrifice and forgiveness, and your eternal life with him
- Finally, help yourself remain faithful to God independent of outward circumstances
5. Step 5: Live a Godly Lifestyle of Thankfulness
Your daily life should significantly reflect thankfulness to Jesus. To illustrate, you can:
- Obviously reflect the joy of being forgiven and having eternal life (Gal 5:22)
- Moreover, trust that an infinite, eternal, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God wants your happiness
- Above all, don’t depend on circumstances but on God’s protection and provisions (Rom. 14:17).
6. Step 6: Resolutely Choose to Trust God Despite Circumstances
Unfortunately, you may not understand why something is or is not happening. However, that doesn’t mean God isn’t good or doesn’t want what is best for you!
As I have noted, controlling your thinking can overcome your disappointment in God.
As a result, you have a choice. You can trust that God knows what is best for you. Regardless of whether his plans make sense to you (Prov. 3:5-6).
- To begin with, take control of your thoughts. Despite your emotions telling you to “feel” differently
- In addition, you can also ask Him for help in trusting him more (Hebrews 11:6)
- Most importantly, remember that God controls everything. His ways are higher than yours (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Correspondingly, God has promised to:
- Never leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13:5)
- Work all things for your good (Rom. 8:28)
This doesn’t mean that you won’t be disappointed. It means that when disappointment comes, you won’t be shaken in your belief and trust in the Lord (Psalm 62:2).
VI. What’s Your Next Step?
Undeniably, there will always be things that perplex and frustrate your life. And sometimes, you may even feel disappointed in God.
- But your disappointments are often caused by chasing idols.
- By comparison, a genuine Christian and a worldly person differ in their object of their desires.
God created humans in his image (Gen. 1:27). Without a doubt, he made you happy. Furthermore, the Lord gave you all you need to gratify godly desires and aspirations.
Obviously, if you want to overcome disappointment in God then renew your mind. And that is accomplished through the “put off and put on” principle.
- Firstly, stop letting your emotions control you
- Further, don’t pursue ungodly idols
- Finally, put on spiritual practices. These include prayer reading and memorizing Scripture. Not to mention the Holy Spirit, godly living, and choosing to obey the Lord.
Even if your desires are godly, you may still not get what you want. That is still no reason to be disappointed in God.
A genuine faith will be strengthened in trials, including disappointment (1 Pet. 1:6–9).
- Ultimately the security and faithfulness of a godly person are unshakable.
- You can live free from disappointment if you genuinely love and trust Jesus.
- But your responsibility is to put off sinful behavior and place your happiness in the Lord.
Binmin Podcast Ep. 4: “What is Soul Care?”
Binmin Podcast Ep. 21 Anger | When Life is Tough
Binmin Podcast Ep. 22 Anxiety| When Life is Tough
Binmin Podcast Ep. 24 Depression | When Life is Tough
- Exell, J. S. The Biblical Illustrator: The Psalms. Volume 1. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company; Francis Griffiths, 1909.
- Ross, A. P. (1985). “Psalms.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Volume Edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.
- White, R. E. O. “Psalms.” In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible. Volume 3. Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 1995.
- Wiersbe, Warren W. Be Worshipful. (1st ed., pp. 27–28). Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications Ministries, 2004.