How to Handle Holiday Disappointment

Christmas is synonymous with joy, peace, and hope, but if we’re honest, it is often filled with stress and despair as we juggle busier-than-ever calendars, attend countless gatherings, strive for the perfect holiday meal, and shop for multiple wish lists. Add to that the inevitable disappointment that comes our way when things don’t go as expected despite our best planning, working, and striving.

Overcoming disappointment.

One year, as we entered the Christmas season and set back and disappointment piled one on top of another, anxious thoughts began to pile up within. I had to make a choice: I could give into them, or I could give them to God. Years ago, I would have let my disappointment, frustration, and anxiety dominate my day. In doing so, I would have ruined my loved ones’ day as well. This time, I knew to look to God: He was able to handle my shortcomings and deal with my disappointments. He could give me whole peace in the midst of my broken plans.

Despite my mounting disappointments, I chose to celebrate His goodness. The result? He was magnified in my heart. And as He was magnified, my disappointments were minimized. Joy filled my heart, and peace settled my mind, even without the Hallmark happy ending. I realized it would not be the last time I would experience disappointment that holiday season, so it was imperative to be mindful of my thought life.

Redirect your thought life.

The Bible has much to say when it comes to what we think about. Whether it’s disappointments, frustrations, worries, or anxieties, God’s Word is the answer. The psalmist declared, “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your comfort delights my soul” (Psalm 94:19 NASB). Just as the psalmist knew where to turn for comfort (God’s Word), when we turn to the Lord and His Word, His thoughts settle ours.

Release your cares.

First, Peter 5:7 instructs us to cast all our anxieties and cares on Him because He cares for us. Isn’t it amazing that when disappointments mount and anxieties increase, we tend to spend less time in prayer rather than more? Might it be because we don’t honestly believe He cares about our seemingly insignificant letdowns? The fact is everything that concerns you concerns Him. The psalmist wrote that we ought to “pour out our hearts to Him” (Psalm 62:8 NASB). Whatever the care or disappointment, He invites you to draw near and pour it out.

Remember His care for you.

When letdowns come your way, do you remain convinced of His care? Jesus taught His followers they were more valuable than the birds of the air, which He took great care of. The same is true of you and me, so how much more will He care for us? That disappointment or unmet expectation does not change the eternal love and care He has for His children.

Return to a place of yieldedness.

“Your will be done, not mine” (Matthew 5:16 NASB) is the most powerful prayer we could pray to combat our disappointments and anxieties. It expresses our trust in His guidance and our confidence in His wisdom. The next time your peace is threatened, remember to surrender your original plans and expectations for His.


Lord, thank You for the birth of Your Son. I am overwhelmed when I consider the extent of Your love as displayed in the manger. I long for this Christmas season to be centered on You. I want to worship You and reflect You to others. You know how easily I lose focus on what truly matters during the Christmas celebration. Please forgive me. I give You my plans, hopes, and expectations. When disappointments and anxieties come my way, help me to remember to turn to You. May Your Word comfort my heart. As I cast my cares upon You, please help me honestly believe You care for me. Lord, I confidently surrender, fully trusting in You and knowing Your ways are so much better than mine. Thank You for the indescribable gift of Jesus. Nothing compares to Him. In Him, my heart is comforted and fully satisfied. I love You and choose to magnify You regardless of what is going on around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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