How to Deal with Dashed Hopes and Disappointments


Have you ever found yourself extremely heartbroken and discouraged over a desire that wasn’t fulfilled or a prayer that wasn’t answered? As much as I would like to say that I’m a strong faith-filled woman and that God has answered all of my prayers, that simply isn’t the case. I have prayed for and believed for certain things in my life that I was sure were God’s will, yet somehow it felt as if my prayers fell on deaf ears. I know God always listens to me, cares about my desires, and has an amazing plan for my life, but the silence of unanswered prayers and unfulfilled desires can be devastating enough for me to forget what I know to be true about God and His love for me. The anguish has literally caused physical pain within me. And I find myself starting to question “why?” - afraid to hope for new things because I simply didn't want to be let down again. I’ve wondered why God would let me get my hopes up for something if He knew it wasn't going to happen. To be honest, I’ve at times felt like giving up on faith.

Can you relate?

We are all human and I think we’ve all had feelings like these. It’s not wrong to temporarily feel things like this, as long as we don’t act on those feelings. So there we stand: sad, disappointed, crushed and perhaps angry, yet we are told that God is still good and loves us more than we know. And somehow we must reconcile the two: how we feel with what is truth. The truth is:

God is for us (Rom 8:31).

God’s plans for us are wonderful (Jer 29:11).

He makes all things work for our good (Rom 8:28).

So how do we get past the negativity that swells up in our minds and hearts when we experience an unfulfilled desire? Here are a few things that can help ease the heartache.

Be Thankful (1st Thess 5:18)

When the blow of not getting what you desire hurts the worst, it’s a pretty good indicator that whatever that thing was, it had a large hold on you. When you are believing God for, and desiring something, it has the propensity to overtake your thoughts and mind making you forget about all the other things God has blessed you with. Conversely, when you start meditating on all that God has done for you (namely saving you to start with), then the thing you are wishing and hoping for is brought back into perspective.

So many times we get into the mindset that this one thing is going to complete us and make our life so much better, when in reality, only God is our true source and joy. Instead of giving into our (sometimes) toddler-like demands, He leads us back into hoping in Him alone, as He is the only sure thing we have in this world. In the midst of struggling with this myself, I’ve written the following to God: “All I want is relief from these circumstances, and answers to my questions and a plan to bank on! What’s that God, are you laughing?” (God has a sense of humor with me. Especially when I realize how ridiculous my request looks written out.) To answer, I felt as if God showed me that I need to be at rest in the midst of the unknown, content without getting what I want and so thankful for everything I have that I honestly don’t care if I get anything else. So true, yet easier said than done. It’s something I wish I could make happen, yet I know it’s a process and I need to submit to that process. And when I struggle, I need to learn to lean on God because He’s the one that can actually change me.

Realize that Things Aren’t Always as they Appear (2nd Cor 5:7)

When we are believing God for something and a door seems to slam shut on our face (negative pregnancy test, we don’t get the job we applied for, our house doesn’t sell, etc.) it’s easy to assume the answer God is giving you is no - end of story. But we have to remember God is not a God of endings, but a God of beginnings. Most likely, it’s not the end of the story at all! Instead of no, it could very well instead be “not now” or “not in this way.” Either way, you can be sure that God is looking out for your best interest. And timing really is everything. Everything in life has a season (Eccl 3:1). Perhaps it’s simply not the right timing for that thing you desire.

It might be what Mark Batterson describes in his book The Circle Maker, a “divine delay” (Amazing book by the way - I highly recommend it). Think of it this way: when you are baking cookies, they have to be baked at a specific temperature for a specific amount of time to come out perfect. If you double the temperature and cook them for half the time, they will be ruined. If you want soft, chewy, delicious cookies, they need to be baked for specific amount of time. It’s worth noting that the timing will be different for different types of cookies, ovens, altitudes, pans, etc. And the perfect timing for what you are believing for will not be the same as someone else’s. However, if you really want to compare, you can read many stories of men and women of God in the Bible who waited years for their desires to come to pass (Abraham and Sarah, Joseph, and Moses… just to name a few).

What if it’s not about timing and the chance has passed, the answer being a definite no? It could be a matter of a different method. God isn’t cookie-cutter. He accomplishes His plans in many different ways and scenarios. If you are believing for a child and are told you can’t conceive, what if adoption or foster care is what God has in store for you? Passed up for a promotion at work? Perhaps God is bringing financial increase through another avenue. Heartbroken over a breakup? Maybe God has another person that would be better suited for you. We never know how God is working behind the scenes and that’s why it is important to trust Him and know that HE has what's best for us, even when our flesh screams for something else.

Look Beyond Ourselves (Eph 2:10)

When I find myself focusing on how I’m not getting what I want when I want it (yes I sound like a toddler, but that’s how we all act at sometimes), I take comfort in reminding myself that it’s not all about me! I’ve been purposed to be a blessing to others in this life, as we all are, and sometimes God’s timing in our lives is simply better for someone else! A few years ago, my husband and I decided we wanted to start trying for our first child. I figured it would happen right away, but after months and months went by with nothing, I started to get really discouraged. I purposed to sit down and study the Bible to find some Scriptures to encourage myself. God revealed quite a few of them to me and I wrote them down, putting them into an article to be posted here on Crosswalk. I hoped to encourage others who were going through the same thing.  I was blown away and incredibly humbled by how many emails I got from people who were indeed encouraged and blessed by the article. Four years later, I’m still getting e-mails. One day, while reading one of those emails, I realized that even if the only reason I went through that waiting period was so I could encourage others going through the same thing, then every minute was worth it. (For the record, God did finally answer our prayer for a child and the timing was perfect as I ended up going through pregnancy at the same time as a few dear friends and now our boys are the best of friends.)

I know it’s hard to go through the disappointment of unfulfilled desires. I'm sure God was let down and disappointed when man, whom he created for intimate fellowship, sinned against Him, so I think He knows how we feel. But He wants us to realize and remember that He's the only one in this fragile life that we can put our hope in and not be disappointed. I don't think we should stop hoping because the lessons we learn and the intimacy with God we gain in the process of not getting what we hope for, is probably more impactful than the excitement we experience when our hopes are actually fulfilled. The bottom line is that God has a master plan and He will work everything together for our good, whether we get what he hope for at any given time or not. At the end of the day - our true hope in God will not disappoint.

Cortni Marrazzo currently resides in Spokane, Washington with her husband Jason and 3 year old son. She has a Degree in Biblical Discipleship and has a passion for ministry and encouraging the body of Christ. She and her husband currently serve as small group directors at their local church. You can contact her at [email protected] or on Facebook.

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