Some of the biggest disappointments in our lives stem from our relationships with others.
Often people turn out to be different than who we thought they were or don’t meet up to our expectations.
But many times, the person who disappoints us the most is looking back at us in the mirror.
That’s why it’s important to teach students to keep their focus on God and turn to Him when they feel discouraged.
Use this junior high lesson, based on Psalm 42:11, to teach students “people will disappoint you, but God will never let you down.
– Nick Diliberto, Junior High Ministry
JUNIOR HIGH LESSON ON DISAPPOINTMENT
Bible: Psalm 42:11 NLT
Bottom Line: People will disappoint you, but God will never let you down.
● Paper and pen/pencil (one per student)
● Fast music
OPENING GAME: TIC-TAC-TOE…. READY? GO!
Students will play this game as individuals – not on teams.
On each piece of paper, draw two tic-tac-toe boards.
Give each person a piece of paper (with the tic-tac-toe boards on it), a pen/pencil, and have them spread out around the room.
Play fast music during the game to encourage students to move quickly.
HOW TO PLAY THE GAME
Say: Raise your hand if you enjoy winning.
So, if you didn’t raise your hand does that mean you like losing?
Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself to be a competitive person, most of us like to win.
We’re going to play a game called, “Tic-Tac-Toe… Ready? Go!”
I’m sure you have played tic-tac-toe, but this is a little different.
Each of you is holding a piece of paper and a pen/pencil.
You’re going to hold onto that piece of paper throughout this game.
When I say, “Ready? Go!” the music will start to play, and you will begin playing tic-tac-toe on your piece of paper by making an “X.”
For the entire game, you will draw “X’s.”
Next, you will go to someone else in the room, and they will play their turn by drawing an “O” on your piece of paper, and you will take your turn by drawing another “X.”
Then, you will take your piece of paper to someone different in the room, and they will play their turn until someone wins one of the games.
When you hand someone your piece of paper, they cannot just give their piece of paper to you – they have to wait until they have marked on your paper.
Then, you can take off before they hand their paper to you.
Whenever you are presented with a piece of paper, you must add an “O.”
If you play the winning turn on your piece of paper, then you get to keep your piece of paper.
If you play the winning turn on someone else’s piece of paper, then you get to take their piece of paper.
If your paper is taken away, you will still have the chance to win a piece of paper back by winning one of the games on someone else’s paper.
When both boards on a piece of paper have been won, that piece of paper will stay with the person who won the last game.
The person who has collected the most pieces of paper at the end of the game – WINS!
Say: It’s great to win… and kind of disappointing when you don’t.
When you get your hopes up only to lose, it can make you feel pretty bad.
Ask: Can you remember the last time (besides when you just played this game) that you were disappointed?
Allow a few responses from students.
Disappointment can hit you pretty hard and sometimes when you least expect it.
It comes through moments like…
When you realize your closest friend has shared something with other people that you told them in confidence.
Your best efforts to earn an acting part in the school play or get a spot on your school’s sport’s team were rejected.
A family member promised to do something with you and then got too busy to spend time with you.
Someone that you care about leaves you unexpectedly.
Or you do something that causes you to be disappointed in yourself.
Disappointment is that sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach, an overwhelming sense of sadness or like your heart has been broken; it can even bring out feelings of anger when you think about how you have been let down.
Disappointment is a part of our lives.
It was part of Jesus’ life and many others that we read about in the Bible.
King David faced discouragement, and we can read his accounts in the Book of Psalms.
Read Psalm 42:11.
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!
We can’t always control what happens to us, but each of us has the choice of how we react when we feel disappointed.
There’s nothing worse than being disappointed in how you acted when you were disappointed.
So, based on the scripture we just read, here are three things to do when you feel disappointed…
1. Determine why you feel disappointed.
Take a look at the situation that has taken place – was the disappointment intentional (someone purposefully let you down) or did it just happen?
How close are you to the person or situation that has caused disappointment?
It’s important to understand the reason why you feel disappointed, so you know how to work through the emotions you are experiencing.
2. Examine your feelings and decide how you should react.
This means that you take a step back and look at the situation.
Do you feel sad, angry, or hurt?
When you react, rather than making decisions about your next actions, down the road you might experience regret.
Next, think and pray about how to deal with the disappointment you’re feeling.
That could mean having a conversation with the person who disappointed you.
Maybe you talk to a parent or pastor that can help you deal with the emotions you’re experiencing.
Or the way you deal with your feelings is by praying, telling God about it, and leaving it with Him.
If you’re disappointed in your own behavior, confess what has happened to someone that can encourage and pray for you.
3. Change your perspective and turn to God with your feelings and emotions.
King David chose to change his perspective and focus by turning to God.
Instead of wallowing in sadness, allow God to encourage you as you turn your attention to Him.
Tell Him about it – God cares about the things you care about.
Sometimes you will need extra help to move past feeling disappointed, especially, if it was caused by someone close to you, or is a more severe situation.
You never have to face discouragement and disappointment alone.
God is always with you, and often, He uses the people around you to help you.
Disappointment will always be part of your life, but just like every other situation you encounter, God can give you the strength to make it through.
Not only that, you can have peace that while people may disappoint you, God will never let you down.
Close in prayer.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Do you typically turn to God when people disappoint you? Why or why not?
2. How do you react when people you care about let you down? Should you respond differently during these times?
3. What is the biggest disappointment you have ever faced? How did you make it through that difficult time?
4. Have you ever disappointed someone else by something you have said or done? Did you feel regret afterward?
5. How can being disappointed in others create an opportunity to depend on God like never before?
6. Do you know someone who has encountered a disappointing situation and handled it well? What did they do that you could try to do too?
7. Why do we look up to people when we know they will ultimately let us down in some way? Does that mean we shouldn’t admire others?
8. What would be a healthy view of the people in our lives – how can we respect and admire qualities about other people, while still realizing they aren’t perfect?
9. How do you handle disappointment differently now than when you were younger? How do you think you will handle it in the future?
10. How do you encourage your friends when they deal with disappointment?
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