Jesus promised we’d face trials and tribulations in this life (John 16:33). But just because we experience the atmosphere of an imperfect world does not mean we were created to live in our hardship, embracing it as our reality and way of life. We have a God who promised us He would never leave us, nor forsake us – a God who promised us peace and victory as Jesus overcame the world (Deuteronomy 31:6, John 16:33). However, as we come to know God as a tender, kind and loving Father, we often pressure Him to intervene on our behalf in our times of distress, while passively awaiting our breakthrough. We expect God to wave His hand over our broken situations while we sit back and relax, only to find ourselves disappointed by a lack of change; and in our disappointment we are hindered from living life God promised for us. In the opening message of our new series, Navigate, Pastor Tracy explores how we are supposed to navigate the storms of disappointment in order to find ourselves on the shores of joyful satisfaction.
We find ourselves in the middle of disappointment when the outcome of our circumstances and situations fail to fulfill our expectations. Regardless of whether our expectations were placed in our own performance, the reactions and responsibilities of another, or the answer to prayer God seemingly never delivered, the destructive power of disappointment is released when we let the sadness of our experience alter our perception and convince us the present outcome is permanent. Too often, we allow our fast food, fast paced, and immediate satisfaction driven culture plague the way we view the results of our circumstances. We look at the lost promotion, failed relationship, or even denial of a mortgage as God’s will for our lives simply because we tend to believe what we first experience is what we must endure. In our impatience and lack of understanding God’s ability to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we could ask, think or imagine, we are blinded to the bigger picture and abandon the truth that in God’s timing, He will work all things together for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Ephesians 3:20, Romans 8:28). We turn to God questioning His faithfulness, not understanding that while He is God Almighty, He is limited by human will. Our distorted perception adopts the viewpoint of defeat and rejection, forgetting that while God is able to do anything by the power of His Spirit, He has called us into a life of cooperation – a life which embraces our relationship with Him and walks by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). When we cease to expect God to completely fight our battle for us, but rather choose to fight alongside Him, we begin our journey away from disappointment and towards joy and peace.
Navigating our way out of disappointment begins with first addressing any issues within our expectations. Two common ways we establish improper expectations are having unreasonable ones and refusing to express them. Unreasonable expectations create a foundation for us to be disappointed, because regardless of what may happen the results will never satisfy. Failing to express our expectations prevents others from being equipped to ensure our expectations are met. Yet while it is vital for us to do all we can to ensure our expectations are reasonable and understood, we must remember many things which lead to disappointment are the result of things we are never fully able to control. In our lack of control, we must run to God, allow Him to re-establish trust and say yes to our next assignment if we are going to escape disappointment and see God’s promises manifested in our lives.
Running to God conditions our heart to seek God’s presence before anything else, both in our times of joy and pain. We remove ourselves from the atmosphere of our circumstances and enter into the presence of God’s peace and stillness, opening the door for the Holy Spirit to mend what is broken inside us. The lies claiming God abandoned us are quieted and we begin to hear God’s assuring voice remind us of His faithfulness. Our trust in God is re-established as we recount all that He has done for us and step out in faith towards the assignment He is calling us into. Abandoning our need to have all our questions answered frees us from becoming tied down by the weight of our disappointment, allowing us to pursue the fullness of what God has set apart for us. Regardless of what our next assignment may be, taking the intentional decision to cooperate with God’s plan prevents us from trying to find our way around our disappointment and embraces the journey of facing our circumstances, while allowing God to surround us with the right people, in the right environment. When we cling to His presence and walk with Him on the journey God is able to fill us with His strength, reveal the glorious expectations He has for our lives, and heal us in ways we never thought possible, all while meeting His expectations.
- What brings you the most disappointment? Why?
- What is your typical reaction when your expectations are not met? What type of emotion does disappointment stir inside of you (anger, sadness, etc.)? How do you release those emotions and how does it influence those around you.
- How can you make running to God your first reaction when you feel disappointed?
- How can creating unreasonable expectations quickly lead you to a life of disappointment? How can a lack of expressing your expectations lead to disappointment in your relationship with others and God? What are some situations you’ve faced because of such issues?
- What are ways you can create more reasonable and better understood expectations?
- Do you find it easy or difficult to give others a change to rebuild trust when they disappoint you?What prevents you from allowing others to re-establish trust?
- What is the hardest part about trusting God when it doesn’t look like your expectations are being met?
- How can you continue to trust God in the times when it may seem like He has not answered your prayers and/or doesn’t give you all the answers?
Thank God for being the rock of your salvation. Praise Him for being your strength and support when you find yourself in the middle of a storm. Thank God for giving you a clear perception regarding His will and promises. Pray that God would bring peace to your emotions when you find yourself in a situation that would normally bring disappointment. Thank God that He never stops fighting for you until your circumstances are beautiful. Pray God would reveal your next assignment to you and thank Him for the courage and strength to follow.
Encourage your group members to be transparent with God about their expectations, reminding them that even though God already knows them, opening the conversation allows God to share His heart regarding them. Remind them breakthrough is parallel to disappointment and encourage them look for the promise that relates to their disappointment. Encourage your group members to record all the things God has done for them so they can recount God’s faithfulness if they ever feel disappointed or anxious as they wait. Lead you members to scripture that reassures God’s faithfulness over their lives.