- Believe in God’s plan. Our God is a miracle worker. He can part waters, move boulders, heal the dead (not just the sick, remember, the dead), save, destroy, bless, and curse. He can do anything, everything, things beyond our comprehension.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” –Isaiah 55:8-9
When I say you have to believe, I mean you have to believe that God has got this thing in His hands. He is looking out for you. He is working out a plan that is bigger than you, and you are going to be better for it in the end.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11
Sometimes, it takes a painful disappointment to teach us a skill or strengthen our faith or to put us in the right place at the right time. We don’t know His ways or His thoughts. We just have to believe in His promise.
- Grieve. Things have not gone the way you wanted. Your hopes and expectations have been defeated. You need to spend some quiet time being sad, mourning the way you thought things would be.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. -Psalm 34:18
Cry. Exercise. Read. Do whatever it is that releases the sadness, the disappointment, the defeat.
And then, eventually, you have to stop grieving and move on.
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. -Psalm 30:5
Disappointment is not meant to define you, my friend. It is not meant to hold you hostage or weigh you down into the mire of depression. Don’t give it that power.
- Pray. You had to know this was coming, right? Spend some time talking to your Heavenly Father. Tell Him your heartache. Tell Him about the plans you had and ask Him to show you why He’s taken them away. I promise you that He has good in this for you, and it’s okay to ask Him what that good is.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28
Talk to Him like you’d talk to your best friend. Your prayer doesn’t have to be pretty or sound like one at your church. It just has to be honest and come from your heart.
Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. -Psalm 55:22
You, my friend, are the godly. You are chasing after God, trying to do the right thing, seeking a better understanding of Him. Aren’t you? He’s talking about you.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7
- Listen and wait. Big things happen when we pray. Sometimes, they are blessings beyond our expectations.
But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. -Matthew 6:6
Sometimes they happen right away, but usually they happen later when we least expect them. Keep waiting. You’ll know when your prayer has been answered.
Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. -Psalms 27:14
- Search for the good. This is a miserable time to try to be thankful. I don’t know about you, but all I want to do is wallow in self pity of my dreams deferred (or dreams lost). This is the time when it’s hardest – and most important – to find the good, grab onto it with both hands, and celebrate it. You need to.
This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. -Psalm 118:24
In beginning this post in the middle of the night, I came to understand that it wouldn’t have happened if my plans had worked out. I wouldn’t have been sleeping fitfully. I wouldn’t have jumped out of bed to write these words. It was God’s plan for me to write these words. (It has been an incredibly soothing and cathartic process). It is also His plan for you to be reading them right now. I am thankful that He chose me.
Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:19b-20
- Believe in yourself. You too are part of God’s great plan. He is preparing you to do His work right now, even in this time of disappointment. No matter what burden comes, know that He will help you stand underneath it, carry it up the hill, and triumph over it in the end.*
Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. -Isaiah 40:28-31
God believes in you. You may not feel equipped to handle this on your own, but He’ll give you what you need to get through it.
For I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:13
*The triumph doesn’t always happen when we think it should. Sometimes, we only triumph over our struggles as we leave this broken world. A conversation I had with my pastor illustrates this point:
“Tara, God will heal her.”
“I just don’t know that He will. She is so sick. She hardly gets out of bed.”
“He is going to heal her. He might heal her body now, or He might heal her soul in heaven, but you can trust Him to heal her.”
Wow. The simplicity and immensity of that statement left me with many tears but complete peace. We can trust Him to defeat our disappointment, no matter what it is.
I share this with my congregation today, as we all stand and look out on the horizon, trying to keep emotions in check, trying to understand, and not vilify God’s creations that think differently, but rather, get ready to plan for the future. In the days to come, I will speak and try to lead as God has placed me here in this time. Know that I feel your pain and am here for you. As we sort through what passing a Traditional Plan, that is already marked as unconstitutional to our UM Constitution, will mean when we go to General Conference for voting again in a year, I am sure of this: God loves us all. The world has not stopped spinning, and we all have a blessed day ahead. As a friend of African American descent told me, it is easy to praise God when things go your way. It is when they do not, that you show your faith. Keep praising God, as God does have a plan, and God always seems to do things in unexpected ways at unexpected times. Thanks be to God for our life, our salvation, and the grace only God can give when we need it. Amen.