Dealing with Disappointment
By Ben and Caz Petersen, 31 Mar 2020
‘If we as a family are making more time for Jesus, he will help us make sense of these strange days we’re living through, he’ll help us feel less disappointed about what we’re missing out on and more excited about what he has done for us and what he is doing for us through this coronavirus season of being locked away.’ Ed Drew
There’s lots of things we and our children at Church might be feeling at this time. One big thing facing us all is disappointment. There are things that have been postponed, and times that have been lost. Our children are dealing with the disappointment of a premature end to the school year; not seeing friends in the flesh for months; the chance to sit exams; cancelled holidays, trips and conferences; not being able to have their planned birthday parties, or see their wider family and Church family. Small things that they love to do - play in the park, go swimming, go out for food - are all not options at the moment.
So how can we help our children (and ourselves) in what feels like a tide of disappointment? Here are some thoughts. Some are original, and some are taken from this article from the Gospel Coalition. We pray they help you to deal with disappointment as families in a way that honours Jesus.
Talk to each other about how you feel
Make sure family is a place where everyone is allowed to be upset. This is a new time for everyone, and everyone will be longing for the old normal in different ways. As your children let you know what they’re upset about you can show them compassion and comfort that reflects Jesus. Better still, you can tell them how Jesus feels their pain and gives them the comfort of his love, from which they can never be separated; unlike every other hope that may have failed them this spring and summer.
Talk to God about how you feel
The Psalms give us the words Jesus used to express the joys and pains of his daily life to his Father - and they can be shockingly strong at times (see Psalm 88 or Psalm 22)! As we’re united to him by faith, we’re welcome to come to God with our questions, fears, frustrations and disappointments. With the Lord we can lament. A lament is simply an honest cry in faith to a God who is powerful, good, and just. By leaving disappointments with our loving Father, we can begin to move away from sadness towards hope and contentment.
Turn to our Saviour - who has suffered the most for us
Because Jesus has suffered more than any of us, as our great high priest he sympathises with us as he’s praying for us (Hebrews 4:15). When we look to Jesus, we’re reminded that God loves us and is working for our good even through disappointments (Romans 8:28). For some, disappointment might be a lonely thing to walk through - you are isolated from your family and church family or maybe no one else in the house is disappointed about missing out on the things you’re disappointed about. But the hope of the gospel is that Jesus isn’t far away from us, leaving us to deal with this on our own. By his Spirit, he is with us. He is comforting us with his promises, and though we can’t see him, he is with us at all times. We can turn to him for comfort.
Talk about your hearts
'Desire and anticipation are not wrong, and neither are disappointment and grief. But the disappointment we feel in response to what we’ve lost to the Coronavirus pandemic can tell us a great deal about our hearts.' Disappointment will be a great chance to help kids see what they love, especially as the strength of that disappointment can sometimes reveal something we love or desire more than God himself. Would they be more disappointed about missing a birthday party or missing out on Jesus? Parents, can you lead your children in repentance as you work through disappointments? Can you show them what it looks like to admit you have loved something wrongly, and show them how Jesus is better by far?
Turn with thankfulness to God
Even though much of what we might have looked forward to has been postponed, we have so many gifts from God that we’re still able to enjoy! The hope of the gospel never changes! Parents have such a wonderful chance to show their children just how they can have joy through disappointments by knowing what’s always true; Jesus is alive, he has forgiven your sins, and he’s getting the new creation ready for you. As well as the big comforts, God has been kind enough to send many smaller things to enjoy and thank him for. How lovely has it been to have warm sunshine this last week? We’ve still been able to share in God’s word together as church; and maybe more so as families than ever before! If there have been things your family have been able to enjoy because of the pandemic, make a point of thanking God for them around your children. It will teach them to give thanks at all times, and help them see that it is our Father who is always in control. In his kindness you might have had the chance to serve in new ways, to work on projects, enjoy hobbies, or read beautiful books which you would not have had time for otherwise. How great would it be to help your children give thanks for this?
Why not have this visible in your home or start the day reading this: '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 1984)
Or learn the Heidelberg Catechism* Question and Answer 28 together:
Q: How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?
A: We can be patient when things go against us, thankful for when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from his love. All creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved.
Turn their eyes forward
Any disappointment we experience in this life is a reminder that this world is not as it should be. As Christians this taste of judgment helps us to remember this is not our home. We have a home awaiting us, where there will be no more reason for sadness, no more cause for disappointment, and no more sickness threatening our lives.
As we turn to our faithful Saviour in disappointment he wipes away our tears, and he is with us. He helps us see our sin. He changes our hearts and lessens our grip on the things of this world and helps us find our satisfaction and contentment in him. He reminds us of his good control, and lifts our gaze to see how he’s at work in the present to bring about the redemption of all things. In disappointment, our hope is that 'the marriage supper of the lamb is a feast that cannot be delayed and will not be canceled. The plans of God, often perplexing and always perfect, can never be thwarted.'
Latest from the Blog
- What's on - Summer at Church by the Bay20 Apr 2022
- Hope Explored20 Apr 2022
- God is Other: The Experience of Wonder - Part 207 Apr 2022
- God is Other: The Experience of Wonder - Part 107 Apr 2022
- The pursuit of happiness – finding our happiness in the07 Apr 2022