How Do You Handle Your Disappointments?

How do you handle your disappointments?  P.T. Barnum (1810-1891) is famous for the phrase “There’s a sucker born every day.” If he really said it, he was talking about himself. I read his autobiography when I was a young teen. He wrote in his book that when he was born, his grandfather deeded to him a piece of property called Ivy Island. He was reminded throughout his childhood that he owned Ivy Island and dreamed of the adventures he would have on his personal island one day. When he was 10, he finally saw Ivy Island. “It was a worthless piece of barren land,” he wrote. The joke was on him. He was 15 when his father died. He became sole provider for his mother and five sisters and brothers. P.T. Barnum understood disappointment and pain, yet somehow discovered the faith and courage to embrace life. 

It is my observation that people tend to undervalue their victories and overrate their disappointments. We undervalue our victories, joys, and successes with words such as, “It was just luck,” “I happened to be in the right place,” or “It’s no big deal.” We overrate our disappointments with words such as, “Things never work out for me,” “No one understands,” or “I always get the raw deal.” If I’m not careful, I can nurse my disappointments as if they are wounds that will never heal. If I’m not careful, I can focus on the circumstances around me rather than on the Spirit that forever holds me.

Around age 30, P. T. Barnum wanted to buy what would be his first museum of curiosities. He was not able to raise much money, so he made a deal. He mortgaged himself to the building’s owner, proposing for collateral: good references, a determination to succeed, and a “valuable and sentimental” piece of property known as Ivy Island. A year later he was out of debt. In his 50’s, Barnum took positions against slavery and the death penalty and for temperance and equal voting rights. He was nearly 70 when he teamed with James Bailey to provide “The Greatest Show on Earth.”  If you read about Barnum’s whole story, you will discover he spent his life overcoming disappointments and severe setbacks with a Christian’s faith and courage.  

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Be an overcomer. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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