This weekend, I have watched several people around me face disappointments. At the basis of each situation lay an expectation, a plan…shattered.
Although I can’t speak for them, I can remember the taste of my own pain. I think I might know how they feel. Though we all have felt the sting of disappointment, we can’t share it with another. “The heart knows its own bitterness” (Proverbs 14:10, NKJV). As I’ve watched these people deal with their disappointments, I have tried to understand what causes the different responses: peace and thankfulness…or anger and hurt.
Some weeks haven’t gone as I had hoped. I’ve competed in various competitions…numerous times…but one regional win and zero national wins was not really what I had hoped. Conversations haven’t gone like I would have liked. I fall short of other’s expectations. I’m left disappointed.
Sometime the disappointment is only a bruise. Sometimes it’s ripped flesh.
This weekend, I came to realize that the outcome of a disappointment depends on two things. First, where was the hope placed? Something transitory – like my abilities, your reaction, good weather, happy times, a relationship, money – can never hold the weight of my greatest confidence and expectation. But hope placed in Jesus Christ is different. He controls the weather, the situation, the entire outcome. He does what I, in my weakness, cannot do. The circumstances that confront me are not arbitrary. Each one is filtered from a loving Heavenly Father, “Who only does wondrous things” (Psalm 72:18, NKJV).
How can our disappointments completely tear us apart when we know that God allows it, somehow, for good? If our hope is in Him, we do not have to hold ourselves, or anything, or anyone else, to blame for the pain.
Secondly, in disappointments, where do we turn for help after the it strikes? Do we seek escape? Do we seal ourselves off from the situation, as if the pain were not there? To ignore the pain is not to make it disappear; it is only to deny the truth. To continually remember the pain is to invite bitterness to consume us.
But we can turn back to the One who is still good and still full of grace. “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3, NKJV). From the deepest depths of our hearts to the outside, He alone can make us whole again. He can give us anticipation of what He is yet to do in our lives. We can still have hope of what is to come.
I love how Emily Freeman talks about closure versus healing in her book Grace for the Good Girl:
“…closure implies that I will no longer have to deal with the thing I have closed…more often what we really seek is healing. Healing is messy and fluid and often unpredictable…It usually takes longer than I think, runs deeper than I wished, and involved more areas of my life than I ever imagined. But once I come through it on the other side, healing not only offers the closure I thought I wanted, it comes with a wholeness, wellness, and restoration that closure lacks.”
Sometimes it takes a long time. I still remember the aches from long ago. Yet God brought His healing, and they don’t hurt anymore. I can go on.
Start with your hope in Him. And when it doesn’t turn out as you would like, hope in Him again. Turn to Jesus for healing.
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