When The Promise Seems Delayed: Dealing With Disappointments

Before you begin reading this article, I invite you to open your Bible with me to Luke 1, in particular, take a look at verses 1 through 25. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you…God is in no rush.

Every year, we reach new milestones in our lives including birthdays. A birthday is a time when we get to celebrate the blessings of another year but also get to ponder on where we are in the journey of life. If you’ve been single for a while, you know that sometimes, especially on particular days of the year such as birthdays, we tend to evaluate our lives and face the not-so-interesting reality that we’re still single or at the very least we are not where we’d like to be (not just in our relationships, in other areas as well). By a certain birthday, you probably thought that God would have answered your prayers and you’d be celebrating this special day with a spouse and kids or at least a spouse. However, your prayer has not been answered yet in the positive and your promise from God seems to be “stuck in traffic”, somewhere delayed. Like me, you’ve probably prayed your sincere and special prayer more times than you can count. You heard God’s voice correctly. No, it was not a mistake. A promise was made to you months ago or perhaps years ago. It’s been [insert your personal number of years here] since you’ve been waiting. Sometimes patiently, other times… well let’s just say not so patiently.

Still, with each passing year, you face that great disappointment all over again. How can you deal with disappointments during your singleness?

Fortunately, the Bible gives us some great insight on the subject of dealing with disappointment. Take for instance the story of Zechariah the priest and his wife Elizabeth found in Luke 1. The story begins by letting us know that Zechariah and Elizabeth were “both righteous in God’s sight”, living blameless and faithfully. It does not mean they were without sin but they lived God-honoring lives and tried to please him daily. Unfortunately, they faced a great disappointment. Year after year, Elizabeth remained barren, unable to conceive. And year after year, their heart would be broken and they would bring their requests to God.

Perhaps you can somewhat relate to this story. You’ve been single for quite some time and chose to do relationships only in a way that honors and glorifies God. In fact, you daily try to live a God-honoring life. Naturally, you would expect that your faithfulness be rewarded and your prayer for a God-fearing -purpose-driven spouse be finally answered from heaven. Yet, nothing has happened and nothing seems to be changing in your life. Yes, you can definitely relate to Zechariah and Elizabeth.

But, how do I deal with this disappointment?’ you’ll say.

Well, let’s take a closer look at the couple’s story.

As we know, one day, Zechariah was chosen by lot to serve as priest before God for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Through an encounter with the angel Gabriel, he is told that God has heard his prayer and Elizabeth would become pregnant with a son. In total disbelief due to their advanced age, Zechariah doubted the truth of this message and questioned how God would do it. Have you been waiting so long that you are beginning to question how God will make it happen for you? Are you losing hope?

What may surprise you  is what the angel did next. He silenced Zechariah because of his unbelief. “Why was that?”, you probably wonder. Perhaps this is partly the same reason we are still waiting on God. You see, as a priest, a man of God, one who had a relationship with God and who was versed in the scriptures, Zechariah knew about similar prayers which God had answered when it seemed too late or impossible. Such prayers like Hannah’s and Abraham’s plea for a child. You see, Zechariah knew all about His promise-keeping, covenant-making God. Yet, he doubted God. “Where is your faith?”, as Jesus would say about Zechariah. However, He would most likely say the very same about us at times.

Like Zechariah, perhaps there are times when you think God has forgotten about His promises to you and you forgot about His faithfulness of old. God wants you to be reminded of how He treats His children and the promises He makes to them. He wants you to learn to center your life on Him and hold on to His promises more than your disappointment. Who will you believe? A God who keeps His Word or your painful and loud disappointments?

To deal with your disappointments, you need to drown them in faith in God. You must promise yourself to make every effort to focus on God’s faithfulness and abilities to do even the impossible over focusing on your current reality.

Another reason why the angel may have silenced Zechariah is so he would not discourage Elizabeth with his doubt-filled speech or voice his doubts to others. God wanted Elizabeth to receive the promise with joy, excitement, and faith. In like manner, God wants you to silence your negative thoughts and not let the doubt slip out of your mouth. Instead, you must expect the fulfillment of your promise with excitement and joy. Are you sabotaging yourself with doubt-filled speeches? Whether those are speeches you tell yourself or share with others, they could potentially be delaying your answered prayer.

Now, please do not misunderstand me. I know very well the realities of being single, watching the years pass by as your prayers remain seemingly unanswered. I know the mental conversations that arise on special days like birthday, Christmas and the like. You know, the “I wish I had a spouse to celebrate with today” or the “I should have been married with two or three children by now”. I get it, trust me. I am no stranger to those internal conversations. However, I’ve learned through personal and other people’s experiences that this is when God desires to test our faith. This is when He wants to see how well you’ll continue to wait rather than taking matters into your own hands.

Unlike Sarah, Abraham’s wife, Elizabeth knew that it’s always more blessed to wait faithfully on God than take the wheel. How we deal with disappointment reveals our true dependence on God. Don’t just tell God that you are depending on Him; show Him! Show him by remaining in faith, doing all that He’s called you to do while you wait with an attitude of hope.

~If you’re struggling with or resenting your season of singleness because of the delay, ask God to shift your perspective. ~

The way we respond to disappointments is of great value to God. If our hearts and character are not in the right place, the promise will inevitably be delayed.

God is far more interested in building our character than He is in changing our circumstances.

Even when your promise seems delayed and disappointment invites itself into your heart, choose to keep a good attitude and trust God. This is your opportunity to stretch your faith and learn to trust God more than you did yesterday. Many at times, we can fail to recognize the blessings in the delay. God may simply be working on your future spouse and on you as well (even though you may think you are ready for that next relationship) so that once you come together, your union will be solid.  What’s more, a delayed promise means that you have an opportunity to :

  • learn to trust God’s plan more than your own
  • deepen your relationship with God
  • fulfill every assignment He gives you with undivided attention
  • deal with past skeletons in your closet
  • heal from your past
  • learn to be more involved in your community
  • and minister to other people facing similar situations as your current or past ones.

If you look closely, you may find that the delay is also an opportunity for you to be better prepared for what you’re been praying for and position yourself to receive the blessing.

The beauty in the delayed promise is that when you will finally receive the blessing, you will have waited so long for it that you will treat it with great value, like a treasure that you’ve received. In the process, you will also have gotten to know God better and deepen your prayers.

Although you may still be single right now, and perhaps disappointed over what you do not have, remember to ask God: “Lord, what do you want me to learn in this season?”.

Remember, every disappointment is an opportunity to trust God more and grow deeper in your relationship with Him. An opportunity to prove God and affirm that your blessing is coming. Sooner or later, it’s coming.

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