Finding Joy in Disappointment

July 30, 2023
Woman thoughtfull looking

Disappointment is a universal experience. If you’re alive today, there’s a good chance you once had a dream, a desire, an expectation—and it simply didn’t work out.

Whether you thought you’d be somewhere else in your profession by now or your relationship status would change or your life would have turned out differently, the bitterness of disappointment is a taste everyone knows.

Moses did. Although he had seen God do unbelievable miracles and even spoke to Him face-to-face as a man speaks to his friend (Exodus 33:11), his anger disqualified him from seeing the culmination of his life’s work—entering the Promised Land.

Deuteronomy tells the story,

Now the Lord spoke to Moses… saying, “Go up to… Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab opposite Jericho, and look at the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the sons of Israel as a possession.… For you will see the land at a distance but you will not go there.”
Deuteronomy 32:48-49,52

The Israelites had been complaining—again—and in a moment of frustration, Moses had shared credit that belonged to God alone, saying, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” (Numbers 20:10). Then he struck the rock God had told him to speak to for water.

And in a moment, the dream of entering the Promised Land was gone. Poof! Moses would be able to see Israel from a distance, but not touch the hallowed ground or breathe its air. The bitter taste of disappointment filled his mouth… and his soul. 

Climbing Mt. Nebo was a bittersweet experience. God graciously showed him the land, from Dan to Beersheba—and it was everything Moses thought it would be. Then he died.

But friend, that’s not the end of the story. And if the bitter taste of disappointment has filled your soul, this is not the end of your story either. 

Because hundreds of years later, near the Sea of Galilee, Jesus climbed Mt. Hermon with Peter, James, and John—and who met them there? Elijah and Moses… finally standing in the Promised Land he once only saw from a distance.

What does this say to us today? God doesn’t leave any business unfinished.

There will come a day when you’ll discover that all things in this life work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). And there will come a day in Heaven when all the broken pieces of your life will come together.

The confusion, the envy, the shame, the time you spent on your own Mt. Nebo when things didn’t work out the way you thought they would. You’ll look back and God will say, “I was in your life. I was doing a special work… even then.”

God doesn’t leave any business unfinished—not Moses’ and not yours. The bitterness of disappointment now will one day fade into the sweetness of Heaven, and you’ll fully know wholeness, completeness, and joy!