Disappointment is a common experience for us all. We will never escape feelings of disappointment in this earthly life.
Disappointment can cause us to respond in both helpful and hurtful ways. For example, have you yourself–or do you know someone–who has experienced a disappointment that led them into a major shift in life or even a crisis of faith?
One thing that can draw us from disappointment into a major shift or faith crisis is this: false expectations.
The Danger of False Expectations
False expectations can enter our lives in various ways. One is when our beliefs or perspective about God are faulty. Perhaps we were taught things that don’t pan out with our experience, or worse–the Bible itself. We could be holding to false beliefs or practicing things we were taught that were incorrect. And yet, we experience disappointment when our expectations of the promised results do not come.
The danger is that these expectations can cause disappointment with God or perhaps in ourselves. For some, this leads to blaming themselves. Do you recognize these thoughts?
“I must be doing something wrong. Maybe I’ve sinned and don’t know what I’ve done?”
“These people seem to be doing well but for some reason I’m not feeling it. Something must be wrong with me.”
Others of us may blame God or feel disillusioned in our walk with Him, doubting He is who He says He is. For some, this may even lead them to walk away from the faith.
“We begin to realize that it’s not God who has disappointed us, but that our false expectations based on false teachings have deceived us. This is such a crucial distinction to make, failure to do so results in many folk rightly rejecting a false concept of God but never coming to knowledge of the truth.”– Famine in the Land
In the midst of disappointment, we most need to come to the place of truth–God’s pure and untainted truth. He has not forgotten or abandoned us, it may just be that our expectations were wrong or misled.
These are key realizations that aid us as we weather the storm of disappointments and false expectations. In the grasp of this understanding, we can then seek to know God for who He is and to know what we believe based on His Word of truth.
By the truth of His Word, we discover who He truly is. We find out whether we are basing our beliefs on our experience or on His truth and a proper practice of it. When a personal experience doesn’t line up with that, we choose His truth instead.
We may then discover–like I did–that what we were taught does not agree with His Word or who He says He is. It’s a painful realization, but one that possesses great relief, beauty and possibility: Now we can seek to know God for who He truly is and study His Word as it is meant to be.
In my own journey, I was not always aware of the disappointments, but I realize now they definitely had an effect. I was one of those who thought it was some issue with me.
One day–through the testimonies of others–I discovered that some of the things I was taught and then believed were not in agreement with God’s Word (read about that here).
Trying to live out these false teachings without knowing it, a sort of cognitive dissonance permeated my life. But as I came to know God’s Word rightly, that cognitive dissonance dissipated.
Nothing was wrong with me after all! It was actually that these wrong teachings could not deliver what they promised because they did not line up with God’s Word. It would be holding to wrong expectations and an impossible life to continue believing such results would come.
Peace flooded my soul despite the sacrifice that came with walking away. Peace with God is a far greater gift than remaining in what is unhelpful and even harmful for one’s spiritual life.
The Word of God became more precious to me as I began to study and discover the truth I had mistakenly thought I previously understood. My understanding of the Scriptures grew as I began to study the Word in proper context.
For Better or for Worse?
Life’s disappointments present us with a choice. Will we succumb to the negativity of such an experience and give up? Or will we allow it to lead us into something better–that which is right, true and pleasing to God?
Remember: Seek God and discover the truth of His Word, His way. It may be that false expectations were fueling your disappointment.
And when you know God’s truth, you can be free of the disappointment those expectations bring. You will find your expectations change, coming into alignment with who God truly is and what He has faithfully written to us in His Word.