Navigating Disappointment

Navigating Disappointment

Matthew 11:6

1 Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities. 2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

We need to guard navigate disappointments in a way that they don’t become offense or stumbling blocks in our lives.

Types of disappointment 

Why does Jesus say “blessed is he who is not offended because of Me”?

John the Baptist at the height of his ministry proclaims Jesus as the Messiah. His expectations attached to the Messiah are not fulfilled. In fact instead of seeing what he expects fulfilled his life goes deeply South. He is in prison at the hands of the ones that he expected the Messiah would defeat.

John the Baptist is understandably disappointed, so He asked Jesus, “So are you the coming one (God’s Messiah).”   

Disappointment isn’t isolated to OT prophets. If you look through the stories of the Bible, people in the Old and New Testaments faced disappointment in all shapes and sizes.

  • Samuel’s mother, Hannah, is childless (1 Sam 1-2)
  • Job’s loss of all children and possessions (Job 1)
  • John the Baptist with Jesus. “Are you the Messiah”
  • Jesus and Judas: Someone you invest in and invite into your world betrays you
  • Jesus and Peter: One of your closest friends denies any connection with you
  • Paul is disappointed with his fellow minister Mark (Acts 15:38)

Why Study Disappointment?

We will all face disappointment.

  • Sports team loses
  • Loss of a job
  • Pursuing a call and it doesn’t go to plan
  • Marriage gone wrong
  • Divorce
  • Someone you marry gets sick
  • Yourself. You sin. You are not who you thought you would be
  • You go after a miracle and it doesn’t happen


The impact of disappointment

A. It can impact our faith

>>> A. In God

We pray and nothing happens.

  • Confusion
  • Anger
  • Bitterness
  • Fear
  • Offense
  • Bitterness

Diminish relationship with God. “You weren’t who I believed you were.”

Step back in faith. It’s easy to pray general prayers to avoid disappointment.

Reduce God down to the level of our experience

>>> B. In ourselves

  • I am not who I thought I was
  • Shame
  • Self-hatred

>>> C. In others

• They are not who I thought they were 


How to navigate disappointment

Navigating disappointment is an art.

A. Get rid of offense

“…Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” ? Mat 11:6

Jesus’ reply to John the Baptist is in the Bible because there is a high probability that like John the Baptist we will have many opportunities to be offended by Jesus.

Offense is the stumbling block that can come during disappointment or when we have to live with circumstances that cannot be explained.

Job shows us that God doesn’t answer mystery by showing us the why but reveals more of Himself which settles the need to know. 

It also shows us that there are greater spiritual realities at play which we are not privy to.  

B. Counting the cost

25 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

Luke 14

Whilst some disappointment in life is unavoidable and unpredictable, some disappointment is the direct result of our choices.

eg. We step out to pursue a new venture and it goes wrong.

Some of our pain can be avoided if things go wrong – can be reduced if we count the cost before we step out.

eg. If I pursue this dream am I ok if it goes South. Can I afford to lose $10,000!

C. Don’t accuse

It’s OK to hurt but it is stupid to accuse God.

“You’re not a God of love.”

“You’re not a God who heals.”

“You’re not a God who is good.”

It might feel like God has slipped up… You are just not seeing correctly.

Don’t accuse. It is OK to say, “I don’t understand. Right now if feel like you let me down. I know this is not true. I’m hurting and confused.”

D. Manage your heart and its pain

Allow your heart to have a voice.

Read through the Psalms until you find your own voice.

E. Embrace the blessing of Mystery

You have a word spoken over your life and it all goes South. You are left feeling disappointed.

You want to know why?

A person’s heart is more clearly seen by what they’re willing to embrace without offence, than by their expression of faith only in what they already understand.

The quest for answers sometimes leads to a rejection of mystery. As a result mystery is often treated as something intolerable, instead of a real treasure. Living with mystery is the privilege of our walk with Christ. Its importance cannot be overrated. If I understand all that is going on in my Christian life, I have an inferior Christian life. The walk of faith is to live according to the revelation we have received, in the midst of the mysteries we can’t explain. That’s why Christianity is called “the faith.”’

Not understanding is okay. Restricting our spiritual life to what we understand is not. It is immaturity at best. Such a controlling spirit is destructive to the development of a Christ-like nature. God responds to faith but will not surrender to our demands for control. Maturity requires a heart-felt embrace of what we do not understand as an essential expression of faith.

Bill Johnson

God never answers why Job to what happened to him.

F. Embracing the shaping 

If God is growing something in you lean in.

Before the Promised Land is the Wilderness. The Wilderness is a gift. It qualifies you for the Promise.

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”

Exodus 13:17

Straight after His baptism and His anointing Jesus got driven (ekballō = Compelled, with notion of violence) into the wilderness (Mark 1).

He comes out of the Wilderness in the Power of the Spirit.

If something needs to die in the wilderness let it die.

G. Don’t surrender faith in the nature of God

That is bringing God down to the level of your disappointment.  

It’s one thing to obey when He has given us understanding about a matter, and quite another to obey while facing questions and circumstances that seem to contradict what we understand. So many fail at this point, and then bring the Bible down to their level of experience. Many do this to feel better about the fact that they are living in compromise – a compromise of their revelation from Scripture. Our challenge is instead to bring our lifestyle up to the standard of God’s Word.

Bill Johnson


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