Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast Episode 023 Discouragement and Disappointment
Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast
Episode #023 – Discouragement and Disappointment
Thank you for entrusting and investing your precious time with me to grow in Jesus together. I am blessed to be back with you today to discuss more ways to live with eternal perspective.
When I was a little girl I felt like I had so many disappointments that caused me to begin expecting less out of life. Like all of us, I learned that nothing is guaranteed. Instead of using that fact to prompt me to appreciate what I did have, I withdrew and became more introverted.
I was already attending my second or third elementary school by the time I entered first grade. We were also living in a new state. I remember my dad taking me to my first day in that new school. The year had already started. Even at that age, I understood that meant everyone already had their friend groups and everyone would be staring at the new girl. In my mind, I still see my dad and I outdoors on the playground on that early morning as he knelt next to me. I cried, pleading with him to let me stay home. I didn’t want to go inside that school. Like parents usually do, he promised me that everything would turn out okay. I knew he couldn’t really promise that, but I also understood I had to go in. My personality was already shutting down, knowing that even if I made any new friends, I’d just have to leave them when we moved again and I wasn’t willing to keep investing the time and energy it took to develop and nurture relationships.
Aren’t you glad God isn’t like that? Despite the ways we unknowingly or purposely sabotage our lives, push Him away, or live in disobedience to His callings and purposes for us, He remains faithful and merciful. He craves intimate relationship with each one of us and desires that we spend eternity with Him.
Revelation 21:3-4 is a beautiful reminder of what is to come for those of us who choose a personal relationship with God through Jesus. “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Life gets bumpy, even when we know and try to please Him, but for true followers of Jesus, there is no way but straight through the disappointment and/or discouragement, allowing the Lord to carry and comfort us. As a child, I did not know Him and could not call upon His help. As an adult, I’m filled with gratitude for the ways I now recognize that He understands and provides for all of my needs.
Even when the answers I receive are not at all what I desire, I do recognize and appreciate the way God works out every detail in the circumstances of my life, giving me opportunities to choose whether I will use them to draw nearer to Him and influence others for Him.
I remember when our oldest daughter had her first set of seizures. She was in her early twenties and living in her own apartment near us. My husband was sick with a flu virus, and I had worked all day. After showering, I planned to watch television and go to bed. Instead, when I stepped out of the shower and into a towel, the phone rang and I had to head to the hospital. There was no way my husband could go with me, and he remained sick for a couple of days after she was admitted to the hospital. I was disappointed and scared to be caring for our daughter alone. I missed my husband and some of the details of her illness were very serious. I wanted to be able to rely on his wisdom and suggestions.
God, in the way He crafts personal relationships with each one of us, knows the intricate ways we are all intertwined with one another and how connected we are to Him. He understands just what is needed for us to draw nearer to Him and He offers opportunities through the events in our lives. As I leaned into the support of God through the terrible illness my daughter suffered, I experienced intimate peace and trust and my faith deepened through the events. If my husband had been present, I do not think my walk would have grown as significantly as it did during that time. God, in His intimate, loving way, knew exactly how I needed to grow in those moments.
The Bible offers a variety of life accounts about people who lived before us, providing a catalog of historical and biblical events that enable us to be a spectator viewing the way God warned, promised, cared for, and disciplined His people before us. As I purposely attempt to live each day with more eternal perspective, I appreciate the value in studying the ways God reached out to them before, during, and after each moment in their life, just as He does for us now. God is always present, whether or not we choose to acknowledge Him. Living with hindsight, especially drawn from watching mistakes, setbacks, disappointments, failures, and discouragement experienced by others should be the easiest way to learn. Many times, however, we choose the hardest way to grow, which is from our personal mistakes. Before we fall into traps, lies, or heartaches, we would do well to remember those who left lessons we can all benefit from and avoid hardships and pain to ourselves and others in our lives.
The very first human disappointment recorded in the Bible was Eve’s. Disappointment and discouragement can stem from several reasons. Eve must have allowed pride and lust to birth disappointment that she could not eat of the fruit God forbade in the garden. After allowing herself to be deceived by the serpent (Satan), she had to have felt deep despair at the outcome of her disobedience. Her life, as well as Adam’s, were negatively impacted and altered by the actions they chose to take. When discouragement hits so deep, it is sometimes difficult to continue past it. This is where many fall victim to deeper discouragement and disappointment, allowing the feelings to fester and grow into more disobedience.
Let’s look at Old Testament Joseph. He did not disobey God, like Adam and Eve. Instead, despite a series of hardships occurring over several years, Joseph continued to look to God through every circumstance and misfortune as they continued to affect him. Recognizing blessings disguised as adversity allows us to focus our perspective on eternity. Joseph understood that this life is not for our pleasure and that God uses everything for His good purposes. What we are allowed to be a part of in this short time on earth, has bigger picture consequences. Without struggle, we cannot develop spiritually in broad or profound ways and others will also miss the opportunity to be reached for and by God through us. Joseph shows us that we must never lose sight of the hidden meanings and plans that God can work through our obedience.
Job lived a blameless, upright life, fearing God and shunning evil. In fact, his life was so pious that Satan begged to touch it, believing that Job lived with a shallow, self-serving devotion to God. The Lord allowed Satan to upset Job’s life, with restrictions, because He knew Satan would be proven wrong and that spiritual warfare would not harm the relationship God and Job shared. Job allows us to see that there can be godly purposes at work when we suffer, and that they can be unrelated to punishment or sin in our lives. If we allow disappointment and/or discouragement to rule our emotions and actions, our personal walk with the Lord is damaged and we never see the underlying work He is creating though what we cannot see.
Paul, a Pharisee who once hated, punished, and murdered Christians, was shocked, and his life totally transformed when he met Jesus on a road to Damascus. The intensity with which he once massacred Christians then turned into a passion for sharing the gospel and serving others, drawing them to Jesus and helping them to draw nearer to Him. Paul allows us to glimpse the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of our gracious Heavenly Father as we study how Jesus shattered the evil life he followed, and the way God forgave Paul, allowing him the opportunity to reach others for Him. Paul obediently and faithfully stepped through treacherous and painful sufferings and events, proving that the law doesn’t provide freedom. Only grace through the shed blood of Jesus offers us eternity and the forgiveness and transformation we desire and need.
Are you able to recognize the types of disappointment and/or discouragement that usually pull us away from God or that causes us to stumble in our walk with Him? How do you define it? To avoid letting disappointment or discouragement from gaining a grip on us, we must recognize when it threatens us. Anything unexpected or unpleasant, whether personal, spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, or financial can affect a change that causes us to be discouraged or disappointed. Those feelings can also be triggered by someone or something.
The most common are as follows:
1. Disappointments – Life will carry adversity.
2. Burnout – Trying to please everyone instead of relying only on what the Lord is calling us to do and not releasing our burdens to Him sparks the flame of burnout.
3. Lack of confidence – Relying on self causes false security and fake confidence that will crumble. True confidence comes only from knowing and believing our worth through God.
4. Expectations – Maturing in the Lord means releasing what we want and accepting a higher plan.
5. Comparisons – Not keeping our gaze fixed above and comparing ourselves to those around us is toxic.
6. Timing (delays) – Our timing is never the same as what God follows.
7. Criticism – Constantly viewing life as negative is contrary to God’s plan. Whether it comes from us or others, it never benefits us.
8. Job – Stresses from jobs can be extreme.
9. Family – Relationships are difficult.
10. Friends – Again, relationships can be difficult.
11. Judgement – Just like comparisons, judgements are not something we are meant to do.
12. Spiritual warfare – Satan is out to get everyone of us, especially those who love Jesus.
13. Lethargy – Not standing for something or doing anything causes boredom and gives us time to do nothing but complain and look for things to be disappointed about.
To avoid falling victim to disappointment and discouragement we must actively engage in purposing to keep our hearts and minds fixed on God. Always remember to look Up to Him, not around us, and certainly not within ourselves.
Exodus 6:8-9 says, “And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord. Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.”
Do not allow yourself to focus on the negative. Wait for what God is working behind the scenes of our vision and understanding
Philippians 3:13-14 says, “Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”
Circumstances in our lives will change. Practice gratitude by enjoying what you appreciate while you have it. Nothing will ever stay the same. Circumstances, joys, and heartaches will ebb and flow just like the sea.
Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Don’t remember the former things; don’t dwell on things past. Watch! I’m about to carry out something new! And now it’s springing up don’t you recognize it? I’m making a way in the wilderness and paths in the desert.”
The Lord is making a way. We must trust and wait with expectation despite circumstances.
I will list practical steps to follow to actively combat disappointment and/or discouragement when they threaten to take root.
1. Get enough rest. Everything looks and feels better when we are well-rested. Eat properly. Proper and regular hydration and nutrition affect our minds and body. Exercise. Our bodies were meant to be active and our minds were meant to be challenged. Both need proper exercise. Proverbs 3:5-8 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”
2. Heed your thoughts. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
3. Pay close attention to attitude. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
4. Notice the way you interact with others, the words you use, the way you treat others. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” When we trust the Lord and release the loads we carry to Him, we are free to truly live the way He desires.
5. Exercise gratitude despite circumstances. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
6. Read the Bible! God’s words are a medicine and balm for all that occurs in this life. The closer we press to Jesus, the more we respect and appreciate the wisdom contained in God’s Holy word. The Holy Spirit works inside us to communicate and decipher the very intentions and words God gave to us, allowing us more clarity, insight, and understanding. Joshua 1:8 says, “This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.” Romans 15:4-5 says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.”
7. Communicate with God through prayer and actively listening for His guidance and direction. Psalm 55:11 says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
8. Rely on God, not self, and not earthly friends. Friends, especially godly ones, are true blessings, but do not replace God with a human He created. Psalm 46:10-11 says, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
9. Shift your viewpoint of occurrences to one of eternal perspective. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
10. Trust God. Let go of personal expectations and follow God’s plan and purposes for your life. Learn to enjoy what happens, instead of what you think should happen or you want to happen. Ephesians 4:27 says, “And do not give the devil an opportunity to work.”
11. Model godly disappointment for our children and grandchildren. When they see us handle discouragement, discontent, or defeat with our heart and mind fixed above, it teaches and encourages them to build the same spiritual strengths. Let them appropriately know your feelings when you are dissatisfied and let them see you pray (or pray with them) about it. Teach them to carry everything to God and share with them as He answers or shifts your heart to the perspective He desires.
Remember (and teach our children and grandchildren) Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “ For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” And Joshua 1:9 which says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
When we forget or refuse to seek Him and instead fixate on what has disillusioned or disenchanted us, we automatically lose sight of a blessing, joy, or lesson that God has allowed or purposed for our life. Eternal perspective living is born from lifting our gaze above any obstacle this earth gives and allowing that annoyance, setback, failure, defeat, or blow to push us into the arms and care of Jesus.
What I call heartitude is revealed when disappointments arise. If we continue worshipping the Lord and living with gratitude despite setbacks and frustrations, we submit to God’s sovereignty over our life. Satan wants Christians discouraged and defeated, hoping that it will cause us to disobey God, not trust God, make wrong decisions, stop believing in God, or cause fear and anxiety.
Depression can also stem from discouragement and/or disappointment, draining us of all hope and chipping away at the foundation of our trust and hope in God. When we allow our mind and spirit to become discouraged or depressed, our spiritual life, personal life, prayer life, and obedience suffer.
Satan wants to till the soil of our spiritual life and rip away roots of trust to replace them with nettles of distrust and disappointment. He will plant seeds of doubt where the discouragement settled and drip waters of discontent until strong, thorny weeds choke out faith and leave us languishing without hope and filling our mind with lies.
Our inner thoughts whisper trash that would never enter God’s thoughts. Satan writes the same dialogue for anyone weak enough to accept the lying words. “God’s not real.” “God is not good.” “If He loved you, He wouldn’t let this happen.” “You aren’t enough for even God to love.” “Christianity is a sham.” “You’re not really a Christian or this wouldn’t have happened.” “God is a liar.”
John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Purpose to draw nearer to God if you feel even a stab of discouragement. Remember emotions you experience when you follow His loving guidelines, read His word, or worship Him in song. Expect that life will bring heartache and uncertainty, but it will also shift again. Jesus warned us that in this world we would experience sorrow and troubles.
John 16:33 says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Do not allow Satan, this world, or your pride and selfishness keep you from viewing discouragement or disappointment through an eternal lens. God’s word offers the perfect hope, promise, or comfort for any event or experience and for any one of us. The following verses are perfect for memorizing, writing out, praying over, or carrying with you to read when needed to counter the lies this world offers. God’s word truly is the solution this hurting world needs.
Romans 5:5 says, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Remember the Israelites and the discouragement and dissatisfaction they suffered on their journey to the promised land and how it prolonged their disappointment, leading to disobedience, and misery? They certainly did not remember God’s past faithfulness to them or the spectacular miracles they had seen Him perform. How different could their journey and life have been if they had remained faithful to trusting and obeying Him?
Our discouragement actually proves our spiritual and relational need for God. No one can fill our emotions, heart, and mind as well as the One who created us. Not even ourselves. Only God. We must read His word to know Him and recognize His voice and promptings. We must pray to Him, and make time to seek, talk, and listen to Him. Why? Because that is the only way to nourish and flourish any relationship. What bond is more important than a personal one with the Creator of the universe?
Let’s close this episode with the following beautiful verse.
Psalm 34:1-7 “I will praise the Lord no matter what happens. I will constantly speak of his glories and grace. I will boast of all his kindness to me. Let all who are discouraged take heart. Let us praise the Lord together and exalt his name. For I cried to him and he answered me! He freed me from all my fears. Others too were radiant at what he did for them. Theirs was no downcast look of rejection! This poor man cried to the Lord—and the Lord heard him and saved him out of his troubles. For the Angel of the Lord guards and rescues all who reverence him.”
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