His heart pounded, his lips quivered, decay crept into his bones, and his legs trembled (Habakkuk 3:16). He was confused, angry, terrified, and desperate for relief. He cried, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” (Habakkuk 1:2). Habakkuk, an Old Testament prophet, experienced a season of trials...
Disappointment exercises our faith.
Like a good resistance band, it pushes back at us, putting on the pressure and testing our endurance. We can either succumb to its force or return the push. We can give way to what disappointment naturally produces—discontentment and doubt—or we can let it grow us. We can let it stretch and strengthen our faith.
When Disappointment Comes
I’ve felt disappointed lately. In a few realms, the resistance band has gone to work, exercising my faith in Jesus:
- When a situation is blurred in confusion (push), do I trust his perfect knowledge and wisdom (pull)?
- If an outcome isn’t what I’d hoped it would be (push), will I receive God’s will or get angry (pull)?
- If God takes away a good gift (push), do I demand an explanation, or submit to him what I may not understand (pull)?
Our God lets nothing go to waste. No disappointment, large or small, can ultimately thwart his purposes, and nothing confuses him. God isn’t wringing his hands over circumstances that seem out of control, and he isn’t surprised by the things that surprise us.
So we deal with disappointment by starting there, with who God is. We allow it to exercise our trust in him, the unshakable rock who never changes, so that our faith is strengthened.
10 Ways Disappointment Can Strengthen Your Faith
Perhaps you’ve experienced disappointment in a fresh way lately, and you’re shocked by the tension it’s produced. Or maybe you’re exhausted because ongoing disappointment has exercised your faith to the limits, and you’re not sure you can return another push.
Brother, sister—disappointment can strengthen your faith if you let it. Here are 10 ways this can happen, as disappointment resists our faith in:
1. God’s goodness
We push back with the reality that if God didn’t spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, won’t he graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32)?
2. God’s control
We push back with the truth that he has declared the end from the beginning, that his counsel shall stand, that he will accomplish all his purposes (Isaiah 46:10).
3. God’s wisdom
We push back with the reality that although we can’t see beyond this moment, God has determined every moment according to his perfect purpose and will, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time (Ephesians 1:9-10).
4. God’s sufficiency
We push back, trusting that those who seek the Lord lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10) and that our confidence is in him (2 Corinthians 3:4), not in our circumstances.
5. God’s work
We push back with the truth that he upholds the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3), knows the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30), and produces endurance, character, and hope in us through trials (Romans 5:3-5).
6. God’s love
We push back with the proof that God’s love was shown in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8), that he is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10), that he’s given us the Spirit of love (Romans 5:5).
7. God’s steadfastness
We push back because we know how God is faithful, even when we are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13); how he never changes (James 1:17), even when our circumstances do; and how he never lies (Titus 1:2).
8. God’s justice
We push back, knowing we deserve nothing, but have received everything in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1-2), and we trust he will make all things right in the end (Psalm 37:6).
9. God’s power
We push back because if God hasn’t given us something, that doesn’t mean he can’t. We remember how God raised Jesus from the dead (Galatians 1:1), how that same power is at work in us and for us.
10. God’s presence
We push back with God’s promise to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), sealed by the blood of Jesus, and we press on walking by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
The Source of Your Strength
Exercise isn’t easy. It makes us sweaty, tired, and sore. But the long-term gain makes exercise worth it because we know it’s making us stronger. As such, disappointment exercises our trust in God, and it can strengthen our faith in him when we resist it with his truth.
Here’s the wonderful news for the exhausted, the downhearted, the utterly disappointed: You’re not left to your own devices to resist disappointment’s push. You’re not left to your own strength. Christ has given you his Holy Spirit, and he wants to help your trust in him grow stronger. He’s the energy behind your exercise, the power behind your pull.
And he wants to strengthen your faith, if you will let him. The question is, will you?