What do we do when “the bubble bursts”? When a job we held for years disappears and a new job is hard to find, when a teenaged child turns his or her back on our parental guidance, when a family member or close friend passes away, when a longed-for pregnancy doesn’t happen, when a ministry we had put our hearts into fizzles and fades out—there are many reasons why believers today face the grief of disappointment, discouragement and disillusionment.
The Bible does not teach that believers will never face disappointment. In fact, the Bible is filled with examples of believers who experienced disappointment—the disappointment of opposition, the disappointment of need, the disappointment of rejection, the disappointment of loss and loneliness. When it happens, not if it will happen, is how the Bible handles the problem of disappointment. Although the Bible does not guarantee freedom from discouragement and disappointment for the believer, it does guarantee a cure for every possible form of disappointment.
The author of Psalm 42 experienced extreme disappointment, but it never resulted in despair because he turned to the Cure—the Lord Himself. We, too, can endure discouragement and disappointment when we cease trying to cope in our own strength and turn to the Lord.
Suffering and disappointment can cause us to despair and become bitter, or they can become opportunities for us to grow and mature. James 1 tells us that God uses all kinds of trials and difficulties to bring our faith to maturity. “Consider it pure joy… when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything” (James 1:2-4). Perseverance means to “hang in there” in spite of opposition, discouragement, loss, or any kind of oppression.
But where can distressed believers find the strength to persevere? By leaning on God! When we are at our weakest, His strength will provide support and keep us going. The psalmist was learning to lean on God. He had come to the realization that God alone was his hope for deliverance. God alone would be his Savior. He found courage and confidence for the future in the belief that God would indeed come through for him. “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Believers who lean on God when oppressed will not be disappointed. (RON REID)