The danger of disappointment is that it mutates into discouragement.
Discouragement is defined as to extinguish the courage, to dishearten, deprive of confidence. Failure to address disappointment eventually lead to a deprivation of confidence, to have courage extinguished.
There are a couple of different ways this digression develops. When expectations are disappointed in a big way, or when expectations are disappointed in a consistent way.
The temporal has now begun to affect us at a spiritual level. What was someone else’s failure is now setting the stage for failure in our own lives. Circumstances that were beyond our control are now exerting influence where we do have control. Our disappointment with circumstances or men is now being used of Satan to create discouragement which is a spiritual issue at its root.
Disappointment is relatively harmless but it gives birth to a spiritual cancer, discouragement.
Numbers 21:4 - And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
I would venture to say that they were disappointed about the way. It proved to be more difficult than what they had expected. Their expectations were not realized, thus they were disappointed and ultimately discouraged. We should be careful about the kind of expectations that we have concerning our way. It is not that we need be pessimistic, not at all. But we need to be trusting that God is leading us in the way that is best for us.
But it gets worse for if unresolved discouragement mutates into unbelief. We lose the courage needed to believe God. When we fail to believe God we are guilty of unbelief. As bad as discouragement is, unbelief is worse. It affords the opportunity for carnal, fleshly, worldly rationalization. When disappointment is stretched into unbelief we are facing a crisis in our lives. Sometimes we may know it. Other times we may not, such is the nature and power of discouragement rooted in disappointment.
There is a striking example of this transition from disappointment to discouragement to unbelief in the book of Numbers.
In Numbers 13:1 Moses is instructed to send men to examine the land which the Lord had given them.
Numbers 13:23-27 records the fact that the land was just as God promised it would be.
Numbers 13:28-14:11 introduces the issues of disappointment, discouragement and unbelief.
Verses 28,29 describe the source of their disappointment. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
Nevertheless”, this is a term denoting their disappointment. They are about to spread it among the people.
In verse 30 there is an attempt at answering the disappointment. And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
Then in verses 31-33 their disappointment is transformed into discouragement. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
They intend to spread that among the people as well.
Moving into the next chapter we see the disappointment and discouragement of the people. It is recorded in the first four verses. And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.
In verses 6-10 Joshua and Caleb make an attempt at restoring faith. And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not. But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.
Then notice verse 11 – And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?
How long will it be ere they believe me? They were guilty of unbelief. It was unbelief that migrated out of the dark regions of discouragement, which was birthed by the disappointment of 10 men.
Unfortunately the downward spiral does not end there for unbelief mutates into disobedience. If we do not believe God we will not obey God.
Hebrews 11:6 reminds us clearly of the importance of believing God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
When we lapse into unbelief a lot of crazy things can start happening. Hebrews even gives insight into this reality. Hebews 3:12,13 – Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. How many have departed as a result of what began as simply disappointment?
Once we have lapsed into unbelief we then become subject to a wide range of the devil’s devices.
Romans 12:2 – And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
We lose the ability to discern the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. Thus we become destined to live a life that is less than what he desired for us. All because of disappointment about some circumstance we found ourselves in or the actions of someone else. The disappointment was nurtured and it turned into discouragement, and then produced unbelief, which inevitably lead to disobedience.