How do you handle disappointment? Think of a time recently when you were really wanting something and then it didn’t happen. Did you cross your arms, stick your bottom lip out and stomp around? I know that’s how kids handle disappointment, but are we really that different when we grow up? We still like to have our pity parties when things don’t happen the way we think they should. We may not be stomping around on the outside, but we are on the inside!
Jonah is a prime example of how a lot of us handle things. When God was able to get him to obey and to go to Nineveh, he was hoping they wouldn’t repent. When they did and God showed mercy on them, he was furious and threw a temper tantrum. In Jonah 4:5 it says, “He went out of the city to the east and sat down in a sulk.” While he was sulking, God arranged for a leafed tree to grow up to provide him with shade from the blistering sun.
That night, God sent a worm to eat the leaves. The next day was hot. With the shade gone, Jonah sulked even more and said he was better off dead. I love verses 10-11. God said, “How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? You neither planted it or watered it.” When I read that, it made think, “Do I really have a reason to let my disappointment turn to anger?”
Disappointment is a part of life. What you do with it is your choice. You can choose to sulk, stomp around, be depressed about it or you can learn from the situation, see it from a different perspective and move forward. Some of the greatest people in history faced huge disappointments. It was how they handled it that made the difference. They took the opportunity to learn from the situation rather than to be upset.
While we cannot control the circumstances around us, our attitude is our choice. We choose whether to stomp off like Jonah or to say, “God, that isn’t how I saw that happening. I’m not happy how it happened. What can you show me in this situation to help me in the future?” It’s ok to not be happy that things didn’t go according to plan. It’s not ok to throw a pity party and think that life is over because it didn’t.
God sees your life beyond today. He sees the path ahead of you and often allows things to happen in our lives to help us get to the destination of His choice, not ours. When our plan doesn’t match His, disappointment is the result. The good news is that God still loves us when we are disappointed or even disappoint Him. He still has a plan for us and uses those times to shape us into who He wants us to become. So, again, how do you handle disappointment?