I sat shocked. Shock gave way to disappointment, which gave in to a little bit of anger.
Okay, a lot of anger.
My eyes filled with tears and rapidly dripped down my cheeks.
I’m so mad, I mouthed. Then a question “popped” inside my head.
Who ya mad at?
For some reason, I knew who was asking—in His non-pushy, gentle way.
I’m mad at You, God, I said aloud.
Okay…okay… I realize that’s probably not a good idea—to be mad at God. After all…He is God.
But I’m being completely real and honest. That’s how I felt.
Let me explain.
I had prayed consistently for something to happen for a person I love. After many long months of waiting, my prayers were answered. But only after a few days, the answered prayers appeared to be snatched back! I felt like I had been given a gift and then the gift was taken away.
Now do you better understand my disappointment?
Maybe you can relate.
You didn’t get the raise or promotion you thought you deserved.
Your child made poor choices.
Your marriage hasn’t been the fantasy you read about in the book.
You wrote your best paper ever but your professor disagreed.
People, circumstances, and events don’t always live up to our expectations.
There’s a Bible story about disappointment in John chapter 11.
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were siblings and also close friends of Jesus. When Lazarus became sick the sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him about Lazarus’s condition. They expected Jesus, the Healer, would come. But He didn’t come for two more days and by that time Lazarus had died. When Martha finally sees Jesus she says,
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21)
I detect some attitude.
I feel like she’s really saying, It’s all your fault!
Maybe she was even a little mad. But at the very least, Martha was disappointed because she believed that if Jesus had been there Lazarus wouldn’t have died. She couldn’t see past her disappointment to understand that Jesus had a purpose in his delay. But Jesus said, “This is for the glory of God.” (John 3:4)
How can death and resurrection have a purpose? We know the ending to this one. “Then many believed in Him.” (John 11:45)
As I battled with my own disappointment, I continued to talk to God. I was respectful but I didn’t hold anything back!
I even said at one point, God, it would have been better for you to have not answered my prayer at all, than to take it back! (As if I know better than God.) 🙂
Amazingly, I heard a gentle whisper—an impression on my heart.
Things aren’t always what they seem.
I wish I could tell you that was the end right there, that my faith walk was over and I had successfully conquered disappointment.
But it wasn’t.
I was still disappointed and shocked for at least 48 more hours, and I must have heard that same phrase at least 48 more times,
Things aren’t always what they seem.
Unable to manipulate or control my disappointments, I submitted to trusting…trusting that God is using these disappointments to mold me into the person He wants me to be. A woman whose initial instincts of fear, worry, or flipping out, evolved into trusting God as her first reaction. The disappointment doesn’t feel good now but fits into a pattern of good when the whole picture is complete. (Romans 8:28)
And you can be sure that just because we feel disappointed, it doesn’t mean God did something wrong.
What can we do when we feel disappointed?
• Begin to operate out of trust. More than ever, read Scriptures declaring that God is trustworthy and in control. Then ask Him to help you believe. Write these Scriptures on “sticky notes” and place them all around your house, place of work, and in your car.
• Move closer to God by praying…more than ever. Give up TV or another activity and intentionally pray at that time. Incline your ear and come to me. Listen, that you may live! Isaiah 55:3
• Be totally honest with God. He knows what we are thinking already.
• Ask for wisdom. God says He will give it when we ask. (James 1:5)
• Boldly tell God that you need His help.
• Expect to be revived! Isaiah 57:15 says that God will revive the spirit of the lowly.
• Don’t try to make sense of the mysteries. Isaiah 55:8 says that God thinks about things differently than we do because He sees the future and knows what is best. I know it can be hard to let God be God when we still want to be in control.
Let’s not lose heart. Let’s choose joy knowing that whatever is happening, God’s in control and will use every situation for His glory.
Debbie is a published author, national speaker and workshop presenter, co-founder of Shine! Ministries and a partner with the Polished Conference L.L.C. In addition, she has an online Bible study page on Facebook, teaches Bible study in her church, and blogs at Living Life Together. Debbie has written Shine! Radiating the Love of God, a Bible study designed exclusively for young women ages 13-18. Additionally, she has articles in the Divine Moments series. All books are available at grace-publishing.com. She would love to speak at your next women’s event, teen event, or at the college where she brings an inspirational message to teachers in training called, “A Christian Perspective for an Inspirational Classroom.” Debbie is married and has three adult children. She travels from Asheville, NC. Visit her website at www.debbiepresnell.com, email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shineministriesnc/