Wednesday, December 30, 2015

When Disappointment Strikes

It's not life or death. It's not the end of the world. But in that moment, it feels like it.

You looked forward to, anticipated, set expectations--but it's out of your control. Faster than you could grab and hold it, stronger than your grip, it rips away forever. Well, the forever of right now. This moment will never come again. The opportunity, for this time, with these people, is over and gone.

How do you deal with disappointment? In the book, Good Mood, Bad Mood, Dr. Charles Hodges says, "If you want to take the measure of someone’s character, the most direct route I can think of is to tell him no." (p. 137)

Disappointment can be small, but intense. A few years ago a young passenger, maybe 8 years old, rode with me in the grain cart during harvest. We returned to the bins to unload the grain, but the tractor door jammed. We were stuck inside. After a few failed attempts, we prayed and I tried again. Still stuck. "Well," my little friend said, "God says, 'No.'" "He may say, 'No,'" I answered, "but I still have to go to the bathroom!" I thought about climbing out the back window, tried the door again, and it opened.

How do you respond when God says, "No?"

This week we had plans to join extended family at a resort in Cancun. We spent 19 hours traveling and sitting in crowded O'Hare and ended up back home in icy Iowa. God said, "No."

I don't have it perfected--and don't expect to--but here are some things that I've learned in dealing with disappointment:

1) Dwelling on the "could-have-been" makes it worse. The more I think about what I'm missing, what I should have had (i.e. am entitled to), the more sad, disheartened and bitter I become.

2) Ask the question, "Why are you disappointed?" It's okay to be sad. Grieving is normal. It's even a God-like characteristic. When we've lost something important to us, we grieve and want it back. Process the sadness and grief, the why's (not the what-if's) and shed a few tears. Even the psalmist asked, "Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?" (Ps. 42:5)

3) Compare your desire to God's desire for you. I wanted to be in Cancun with family--soaking up sun, sand, jokes, stimulating conversation, and fresh guacamole. But when I came downstairs to the kitchen the next morning (to make my own coffee!) what did the Scripture above the sink say?
One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple. (Ps. 27:4)
That's not quite what I had in mind. But is it true? If I only wanted one thing from the Lord, would it really be Mexico? I hope not. He's so much bigger and better. Could I really want just His presence? Is He enough for me?

4) Ask for help. I have some great friends who texted this when they heard the news: "I pray you will see God's plan in this...." "Bummer news, praying for a restful and relaxing week." Along with other thoughtful comments on Facebook to examine my heart and look to the Lord--He knows and He has a better plan (although I can't imagine it's better).

5) Trust God. I was reminded in one of my classes yesterday that "hope is the result of trust." Hope does not come from simply wishing or wanting. Hope only happens when I actively place my trust and full-weight on the Lord.
"Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken." (Ps. 62:5-6)

6) Move forward; look outward. God has given me what is best for today--and He has not hidden His plan. He desires that I love Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and that I love my neighbor as myself. So, in this day, I am called to rejoice, to rest, to praise, and to serve others. As my mind is taken off my self and any residual pity it is moved to the needs of others and I am blessed.  The apostle Paul said, "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35).

So for today, in this moment, I'm working my way through grief and disappointment. Some moments are better than others. Some moments grief and despair creep in and I have to start over but isn't that the way of life in this sin-cursed world with frail, finite, sin-cursed bodies?

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:22-39 NIV)

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear from you! Please share your experiences, thoughts, questions or comments. Thanks for stopping by.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.