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What Do We Do When We Feel Disappointed, with God or Life?

What Do We Do When We Feel Disappointed, with God or Life?

Disappointment results from an unfulfilled self-appointment, expectation, longing, desire or hope in someone or something other than God and his will.

We’ve all been there: We had a dream for our lives, and it didn’t play out the way we had hoped. Unmet or unfulfilled expectations lead to disappointment. As believers in God though, sometimes we wrongly assume it’s God who has failed us, instead of just our expectations. This thought progression can lead to something very sad: disappointment with God!

Our expectations for life are often formed during adolescence and young adulthood. These tend to be the years when we more concretely decide if we want to get married, have children, study, pursue a certain career, work toward achieving a level of financial security, etc. It seems universally true that we, as humans, have desires, goals and plans for our lives. It’s when those expectations go unmet that disappointment creeps in.

Why Do We Feel Disappointed?

Common disappointments often fall into the following categories:


Who you are may represent your biggest disappointment. Maybe you struggle with your appearance, athletic ability, character, academic performance, intellectual capability, social or emotional intelligence, or something else. Or maybe you’re dissatisfied with some facet of your gender identity or sexuality. These are real issues facing real people. Our very identity can be the hardest thing we face.

Romantic Love

Listen to almost any song on the radio and this disappointment will surface in the lyrics. We want to love and be loved. This isn’t just a desire; for most of us, it’s an expectation. We expect to find love and, though we may not admit to our own idealism, we expect that if we look long and hard enough, we’ll find a love that will last a lifetime.


For the majority of humans, we also want a family. Maybe you had a great family growing up and you want to reproduce that. Maybe you had a broken and dysfunctional family, and you want what you didn’t have. Most of us, though, desire a family in some way. Whether we biologically reproduce, foster, adopt, or just live in community with those we consider family, most of the world’s population will seek to achieve the concept of a family unit.


“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question that is asked of us repeatedly as we mature and develop into adults. A good many of us develop expectations surrounding what we want to be or do to contribute to society. These expectations often stem from our natural skill sets, interests and abilities. If we can’t accomplish our career dreams, that disappointment can become emotionally challenging and even crippling. Feeling stuck in a job or career that doesn’t lead to happiness or fulfillment can be very defeating.


Other people can be our undoing, emotionally speaking. We expect people to act a certain way toward us and when they don’t, it can be very troubling and hurtful. Plain and simple, people can let us down and be sources of great disappointment. The mistakes or choices of others can even feel like they ruin our lives.


We expect to live relatively healthy lives. Injuries, illnesses and challenges touch us all, but diseases, disorders, disabilities, and negative medical diagnoses can be shocking at best and debilitating and devastating at worst. Health, of course, isn’t just physical. We also desire, and even expect, mental and emotional health as well. The lack of or loss of health can rock our worlds.


Life’s greatest disappointment is arguably death itself. It’s not that we don’t know we will die or that those we love will die, it’s that we expect life to be long. Living to a “ripe old age” is what most of us hope for when we’re young. We want to “grow old” with someone we love. Death in old age is one thing, but when lives seem to be “cut short,” it can utterly rip us apart.

God’s Timing 

It seems like this list would end or culminate with death. It can’t get worse than that, right? But there’s this one added category that often just seems mean or uncaring. For those of us who believe in God, His concept of timing can be shockingly difficult to grapple with. It affects all of our other expectations. Think about it: we have expectations for the “when” or timing of everything. We want to find love and/or start a family by a certain age, find a job when we need it, etc. We want to be financially secure by our 60s so that we can enjoy retirement. We want to live long enough to feel like we experienced and completed everything we wanted to. We have “bucket lists” of things we want to accomplish by a certain age or decade. We have a mental clock for everything. And yet God’s “clock” is often different than ours and that can result in feelings of anger, disillusionment and disappointment.

God’s Solution to Disappointment

Disappointment touches us all. It’s what we do with it that will make or break us. Some people believe that disappointment can be avoided by simply lowering expectations, or even expecting the worst so that we aren’t surprised when it happens.

God offers a different (and better) solution! His solution, stated over and over again in Scripture, is for us to hope in Him and His will for our lives! He is the only Person who cannot and will not disappoint us, because He cannot fail.

Take a look at these promises from the Word of God:

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalms 73:26).

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

“For no word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1:37).

“As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him” (2 Samuel 22:31).

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalms 42:11).

“To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not [disappointed] put to shame” (Psalms 22:5).

Disappointment stems from our own expectations for life. God’s plan and will for our lives is for our good and for His glory. If we desire only what He desires for us, we will experience much more peace! If we trust Him with all our heart, not leaning on our own wisdom and understanding, He will establish our lives in a way that will lead to our ultimate spiritual good. Let HIM write the story of your life!

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” (Proverbs 3:5-8).

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/urbazon

Kristi Walker has been a missionary in Berlin, Germany for over 19 years working with CrossWay International Baptist Church. She is the author of three books: Disappointment: A Subtle Path Away from ChristConvinced: Applying Biblical Principles to Life’s Choices, and Big Picture: 66 Books, 1 Message.