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Facing Disappointment

We’ve all responded to the heartbreaks and disappointments of this past year differently. Disappointment has left folks questioning God. Like the driver who ignores the service lights on their dashboard, others have ignored the emotional toll 2020 has brought and continued into their life without adjustments.

My definition of disappointment is dashed hope. This thing that you hoped for, maybe prayed and asked God for, did not happen and you can’t understand why and sometimes you can’t make sense of it. Most are familiar with the scripture Proverbs 13:12  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” and feel a heart-sick longing for something else this year.

But before we talk about 2021, let’s talk about the elephant {called disappointment} in the room-- well the one that was in my room at least. 

One that I kept ignoring, even as the indicator lights of various emotions kept appearing.

A few years ago I knew there was a fracture in my relationship with God. One that I kept ignoring, even as the indicator lights of various emotions kept appearing. It felt almost blasphemous to admit so I didn’t address it until it was very evident in a counseling session I had. 

As my counselor shared her own personal story of dealing with a similar disappointment. She reminded me about what Hannah did when faced with years of disappointment. She cried out and prayed to God so much that the priest thought she was drunk.  Even C.S. Lewis admonishes us to “lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.” 

Does anybody else remember that iconic scene on Fresh Prince of Bel Air when Will breaks down about his father’s rejection? Will was excited about traveling across the country with his Dad only for him to show up with a bogus excuse of why he had to cancel. You can see the hurt,  and rejection in Will’s eyes as he starts to feel every single disappointment from his Dad. 

I ultimately knew he didn’t deserve me looking at him sideways.

When I finally began to let God in, to handle my disappointment(s), it really was a list. I can imagine I may have looked something like Will laying them all out and telling God, but ‘it’s okay,’ ‘I’m fine.’ ‘No, really, I got it.’ Maybe it’s because I was scared to reveal the hurt of the disappointment to him or because I ultimately knew he didn’t deserve me looking at him sideways. I was trepidly approaching his presence. 

But God has been handling our disappointments since forever. He’s handled our hurt, our skepticism, our questions, and our ignorance with grace, love, and mercy. The book of Psalms is filled with David’s expression of disappointment, his laments, his longings, and deep emotions, yet he brought them to God and wasn’t rebuked for them. Think of John the Baptist. He knew he was to be a forerunner for Christ but when he landed in prison for speaking out against King Herod’s immorality, he wondered what was going on. When he sent his disciples to inquire of Jesus, Jesus wasn’t offended but encouraged John that what he’d seen and heard was true. (Matt. 11)

Know that God hasn’t given up on you

I can imagine Thomas dealing with the aftermath of his disappointment of Jesus’ death when the disciples began to tell him that Jesus did in fact resurrect. And Thomas not wanting to get his hopes up, skeptically says, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’ (John 14) Jesus graciously responds; because he can handle our fears, our worries, hurt, disenfranchisement, and our deep disappointments. 

Maybe you’ve not dealt with all the disappointments of 2020 so well or not dealt with them at all. Maybe you’ve given up on something altogether because there’s been disappointment after disappointment. Maybe you’ve masked your disappointment with anger, perhaps even taking it out on others. But that doesn’t mean the sting and pain of it has dissipated. God knows and wants to deal with it. 

Remember God’s response to our disappointment: It’s a warm embrace of “bring it to me, because I can handle it.” Just as Uncle Phil embraced Will with a hug was felt through every audience member and television viewer, God embraces us and allows us to cry on his shoulders. We can wrestle with our disappointments in his presence because He wants to take them for us. He calls our weary souls, to come to him to take his ‘yoke’ instead of our burden. When we can’t find the answers, he’ll give us strength. Just coming to him is an act of trust and the start of him turning our hearts around. Know that God hasn’t given up on you, will never let you down, hasn’t left your side, and hasn’t forgotten about you. 

Photo by Levent Simsek from Pexels

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