Excerpt from: 30 Days to Taming Your Anger
Day 9: Disappointed
You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. Proverbs 19:21 NLT
Lisa and her husband, Dean, were the loving parents of three teen daughters. They were a model Christian family that faithfully attended weekly church services. As godly parents, Lisa and Dean held high expectations for their daughters and envisioned an ideal future for them as college grads and happily married wives and mothers. However, their middle daughter, Christy, an honor student, dashed their hopes when she was in her sophomore year of high school. She and her boyfriend, Ted, made the heartbreaking announcement that Christy was pregnant. Lisa was devastated. Dean was in shock.
“How could this happen to our family?” Lisa sobbed to her husband.
“How could God let us down?” Dean said.
They struggled to come to grips with the reality they had been dealt. They were angry with Christy, Ted, and even God for allowing her to conceive.
However, underneath their anger lay the real emotion: disappointment. After much prayer and soul-searching, Lisa and Dean realized that their disappointment could take them down one of two roads. One led to disgust, anger, and fractured relationships; the other—the one God commands His children to take—led to grace and forgiveness.
In their hearts, they knew that only God could initiate a life; abortion was out of the question. After all, no one knows the destiny God has for every precious life He allows to come into the world. Imagine if the parents of Stanley Ann Dunham, an eighteen-year-old white college freshman, had forced her to abort her child when she found herself pregnant by her African boyfriend. Who knew that she had conceived Barack Obama, the forty-fourth and first African-American president of the United States?
King David understood disappointment. After many frustrating years of running from King Saul, who made numerous attempts on his life, David had finally become king over all of Israel. One of his top priorities was to relocate the ark of the covenant to the capital city. The ark was the most sacred and revered object among the Israelites. It contained the original tablets of stone God gave to Moses at Mount Sinai. It represented the very presence of God Himself. Over thirty thousand choice men accompanied David to celebrate the momentous transport. However, things did not go as planned.
But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand and steadied the Ark of God. Then the Lord’s anger was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him dead because of this. So Uzzah died right there beside the Ark of God. David was angry because the Lord’s anger had burst out against Uzzah” (2 Samuel 6:6-8 NLT).
Times of disappointment present the perfect opportunity to reevaluate our goals and expectations, where we place our trust, and how we respond when things do not go our way. Below are five strategies David modeled in his response to the disappointing ark fiasco. You too can do this:
- Acknowledge your disappointment—to God, yourself, a supportive friend—or even the perpetrator if the Spirit leads you to do so. We must not allow our ego, pride, or fear to cause us to deny that we’re feeling displeasure because our expectation has been dashed. I was recently disappointed and angered when a family member yelled at me and used profanity to boot. I never thought a blood relative would speak to me that way.King David was deeply disappointed that his efforts had yielded such disastrous results. We sense his frustration with God for such a harsh judgment for an apparently innocent act. “David was afraid of the Lord that day; and he said, ‘How can the ark of the Lord come to me?’” (2 Samuel 6:9).
- Place a time limit on how long you will languish on the bed of disappointment. Yes, it’s human to feel disappointed, but we cannot allow this emotion to set up permanent residence in our soul. To do so says to God, “I don’t like what You have allowed. I still want my way.” This can lead to disillusionment and bitterness.Depending upon the nature of the disappointment, I’ll often say to myself, Okay, Deborah, you get X number of minutes/hours to grieve the death of your plan or expectation. You will not keep wishing it were different; you will move on. God has spoken.Caution: When you are disappointed because you are certain the outcome is contrary to God’s will, keep standing in faith for the desired result. David didn’t allow misfortune to kill his dream of bringing the ark to the capital city; he simply took time to regroup. “So David would not move the ark of the Lord with him into the City of David; but David took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite three months. And the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his household” (2 Samuel 6:10-11).
- Acknowledge any mistakes, miscommunication, or disobedience on your part that may have contributed to the disappointment. In analyzing the ark debacle, David realized he had not obeyed God’s original instructions to Moses on how to transport the ark. They had made a gross error in placing the ark on an oxcart; it was to be carried only by poles on the shoulders of certain Levites (Numbers 4:1-6,15-20). Further, no one was to actually touch it except the qualifying priests. Thus, we learn that Uzza’s innocent reflex action in steadying the cart was an act of desecration.
- Ask God, “What now?” Maintaining a forward focus keeps you from getting stuck in frustration or anger over what could have been if only this or that had happened. Seek God for new instructions. Stay optimistic about a better outcome in the future. Before his next attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem, David told the qualifying priests,
“You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves…that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.” So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord 1 Chron. 15:12-15). The ark finally arrived in Jerusalem amidst great rejoicing (1 Chronicles 16). Mission accomplished!
5. Accept every disappointment as “His-Appointment.” Although God may not have initiated the disappointing circumstance, He can surely turn it into something good. Therefore, look beyond the situation and believe that all things are working together for your good because you love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Also, remember that God may not be canceling your plans but rather postponing them for a divinely ordered time.We will all experience disappointments. Overcoming them requires a mindset that is humble enough to submit to God’s plan, flexible enough to extend His grace to others, and faithful enough to stay focused on the future.
“I had plans and expectations, but God’s purpose has prevailed. May He be glorified.”