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The Surprising Grace of Disappointment


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Disappointment is a feeling everyone knows well—failed relationships, buyer’s remorse, unmet expectations, and so on. In a broken world, disappointment surrounds us.

But Christians know that Jesus will never disappoint us, right? Wrong. John Koessler explains how Jesus disappoints everyone. He never fails, but he does disappoint.

We come to Jesus with false expectations, demanding or expecting things he doesn’t promise, and then when he doesn’t deliver, we are disappointed by Him. But Koessler explains how this can be the best thing for us even though it doesn’t feel good. He describes how this sort of disappointment takes our wrong expectations and sets them straight, bringing us closer to Jesus and into a deeper understanding of his very surprising grace.

This book is a wonderful resource for people struggling with life’s hard times as well as for counselors or pastors seeking to help others.

From the Back Cover

Jesus disappoints, but He never fails us.

We all bring false expectations with us to parts of life, even to Jesus. When Jesus doesn’t deliver, we are disappointed. Koessler explains how these difficult experiences can be the best thing for us despite how much they hurt. He shows how disappointment takes our wrong expectations and sets them straight. And this is surprising grace—all the pain and frustration can bring us closer to Jesus.


Chapter 1: False Hope & Unreasonable Expectations
Chapter 2: As Good as His Word
Chapter 3: Jesus Disappoints Everyone
Chapter 4: Prayer and Awkward Conversation
Chapter 5: Asleep at the Wheel
Chapter 6: Great Expectations or Delusions of Grandeur?
Chapter 7: Eat, Drink, and Be Hungry
Chapter 8: Take This Job
Chapter 9: The Trajectory of Worship
Chapter 10: Happy Ending

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is a must read for every Christian. You will find hope and encouragement throughout the book. I happily gave this 5/5 stars! I would recommend this book to anyone who has recently dealt with a time in their life where something did not happen the way they thought it should. You may not agree with everything the author puts out there for you to think about but you will not be able to deny he has done his research. I liked the style of writing and the attitude of the author is definitely friendly and non judgmental. This is a book I would read again.

Review by Irene Grove on NetGalley

Winsome. Honest.  Faithful.  Those are the words that come immediately to mind when I think of the writing of John Koessler.  He writes with engaging charm, with frank honesty about the rough texture of life, and with a grounded faith that will not be moved. It's why I publish anything I can by him in Christianity Today.  It's why you should read everything he writes, starting here.  --Mark Galli, editor, Christianity Today.


When you experience disappointment with people, you’re human. You reach a different level when you become disappointed with yourself. But when you become disappointed with God, you’ve arrived at the place where grace can mend a broken heart. This is a book for anyone who has been hurt, let down, and bruised. It’s for all of us.--Chris Fabry Host of Chris Fabry Live! and author of Borders of the Heart



The Surprising Grace... marks yet another fresh insight from the pen of John Koessler. Tackling a universal and thorny struggle nearly everyone faces, Koessler comes at it with his remarkable ability to put the theological cookies on the lower shelf where laypeople like me can reach them. And they taste good.--Jerry B. Jenkins, Novelist & Biographer

All of us as Christians have been disappointed by Jesus; yes, we all have to admit He has often not answered our prayers according to our liking; He has not healed the sick or given us the opportunities we had hoped for. But yes, in this book we learn that disappointments are also surprising marks of “Grace.” Even as Jesus displayed in the New Testament, our disappointments are His appointments to lead us to deeper relationship with Him.  Read this book and be encouraged, then pass it along to someone who even needs it more than you did!--Dr. Erwin Lutzer, Senior Pastor, The Moody Church

"Here is a strong antidote for glib, shallow Christianity, and a helpful guide for those on the lifelong quest to understand how the Bible and life align."--Craig Brian Larson

Pastor, Lake Shore Assembly of God, Chicago

In the tradition of Philip Yancey’s singular book, Disappointment with God, John Koessler’s layered approach to a haunting subject reaches a variety of readers. He stirs long-resigned Christians by surprising them with unsentimental yet poignant takes on familiar truths.  He prods the cynical with hard-hitting, unsparing honesty, and his fresh, thoughtful interpretations of biblical narratives instruct the layperson while inspiring teachers and pastors to look at scripture more creatively.

It is rare to find theological truth delivered in literate prose, a consistent mark of Koessler’s writing. His gifts of insight and respect for language, combined with engaging personal stories and a broad range of allusions to other writers and theologians, make this book stand out among its peers.--Dr. Rosalie de Rosset, Professor of Communications and Literature

Moody Bible Institute

The Surprising Grace of Disappointment is both challenging and comforting in its honest and biblical interaction with the various ways in which God disappoints his people. Dr. John Koessler helps us to see the danger of our own agendas and expectations when we are not rooted in the sovereign purpose and plan of the God who knows and loves his people. This is a book that will steer the reader away from a demanding presumption and toward an expectant faith that really believes that God's ways are not our ways, and that this is a good thing. His ways are better.

Joe Thorn

Author, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself; Lead Pastor, Redeemer Fellowship (St. Charles, IL)

Product Details

  • Title : The Surprising Grace of Disappointment
  • Author: Koessler, John
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • ISBN: 9780802476258
JOHN KOESSLER is a professor emeritus at Moody Bible Institute where he served on the faculty since 1994. Prior to joining the Moody faculty, John served as pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, IL for nine years. He is an award-winning author who has written thirteen books and numerous magazine articles. He writes the monthly Theology Matters column for Today in the Word and is a frequent workshop leader at the Moody Pastor's Conference. John is married to Jane and they have two adult sons. They live in Ludington, MI.


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    Digital list price: $7.99
    Save $2.00 (25%)