3 Powerful Works of Disappointment

“Our best successes often come after our greatest disappointments.”

– Henry Ward Beecher

Disappointments Precede Success

When great disappointments come–and they come to all of us–we can either ask “why Lord?”, what now Lord?”, or “what do you want me to do now Lord?” Disappointments can either discourage us or make us look at what we must do now or what direction God is pointing us to. When Jesus was dying on the cross, He “called out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me” (Mark 15:34)? What a huge disappointment Jesus’ ministry appeared to be. They thought He had failed by being crucified. However, what appeared to be the greatest disappointment in their lives ended up as the greatest triumph in all of human history. Now we could be saved from the wrath of God because of Jesus’ death on the cross. Often, disappointments sometimes give birth to great successes, even if we don’t see it at the time.

Disappointments Glorify God

Martha was disappointed when Jesus didn’t arrive soon enough, for her at least, to keep her brother Lazarus from dying. In John 11:21, “Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Then Jesus said to her, Your brother will rise again” (John 11:23). Martha misunderstood Jesus and said, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (John 11:24), but Jesus was talking about raising Lazarus from the dead right then and there. Before Jesus came, He had told His disciples that this (Lazarus’ death) is “for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). The point is that Lazarus’ death appeared to be a huge disappointment to Martha and many others, but it turned out to be a Jesus-glorifying act, which turned their disappointment into a huge success for Martha, Mary, Lazarus, and also Jesus, as He was glorified in this.

Disappointments Through Afflictions

Did you know that the more crushed you are through afflictions, the closer God is to you? That’s what Psalm 34:18 says: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Don’t you want to be nearer to God? Of course you do. Paul knew a lot about afflictions and wrote, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4: 16-17). The apostles had been arrested and flogged for presenting the Gospel of Christ as Jesus had commanded them. They could have sent out urgent prayer requests to the church for their safety, for the counsel to deliver them, and for them to escape the punishment. But listen to what the apostles said after the flogging: “They left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:41). How would we have reacted? Their arrest and flogging were unwarranted, and they were flogged for obeying Jesus’ command (Matt. 28:19-20). To those outside the faith, they must have thought, “Wow, what a disappointment,” but not the apostles. They considered this an honor to suffer for Christ’s name.


God has a history of turning our disappointments into triumphs. We could never see the successes without the disappointments. We could not achieve victory without going through occasional defeats. Mr. Beecher is completely right: Our best successes often come after our greatest disappointments. So make disappointments His appointments.