This is a post I wrote over at my personal blog back in November. I hope it brings you some encouragement.
Dealing with disappointment can be so painful.
I have had to deal with a lot of disappointment this year; it has been a series of rejections and painful experiences. There have been two major ones, but I dealt with them very differently.
The first major disappointment came in March. I had applied to do an internship with a church in Oxford; I and others who were involved had been so confident that I was going to get it. When I received my rejection it came as huge shock, and I very quickly crumbled. It didn’t help that at the same time my boyfriend had been accepted onto a similar course, so while my dream was falling apart, his were beginning to take shape. Kick in the teeth if ever there was one! I was desperate to leave where I lived, and begin living out all the things I had dreamed about. I tried to force every door open that I possibly could, but with 5 uni rejections, despite my grades, and no gap year course, it became quite clear God was telling me to finish my education properly. I had to stay put. I was not happy.
I became so bitter, shutting God and anyone else who wanted to encourage me out. I got to the point where I wouldn’t let Sam talk about his course, I was too jealous and angry to even love and support him. I let the pain of disappointment take over my life, becoming very depressed, even to the point of thinking about suicide. Resentment and anger that God had not given me what I wanted stopped me from accepting the truth that I had a future ahead of me, that this wasn’t the end for me – merely the start!
The second major disappointment came today. In the summer I asked God to make it clear whether Oxford was the wrong path (the doors now seemed to be opening to apply to Oxford) and it seemed to become clear that it was the right thing, so I decided to step out in faith and go for it. Today I received my rejection. This time I didn’t break down; I don’t feel angry, I don’t feel bitter, I am not afraid. I feel completely peaceful, trusting that my plans are in the hands of the one who holds the world.
What is the difference? I think simply it is that for the first I put my hope in my plans; the second I was hopeful for my plans to succeed. I didn’t demand that God did things my way, guising it as ‘asking him for my desires’, but instead trusted him complete, whatever the outcome. Saying ‘not my will, but yours be done’ can one of the hardest prayers we say, often said through gritted teeth and clenched fists, but it is the difference between an undesired outcome being merely disappointing, not devasating.
We need to build our foundations on God’s promises, not on whether he has done what we have asked. This disappointment has been big, but it hasn’t shaken me because I trust God’s promises to me:
‘For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29v11)
‘When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when I pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned…’ (Isaiah 43v2)
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; peresecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed’ (2 Corinthians 4v8).
‘If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory…’ (John 15v7)
These are truths that are true all the time, through our highs and lows, joys and disappointments; they don’t depend on our circumstances or how we feel. God means good for you always, it just doesn’t always feel good! If we put our hope in the promises of God, we won’t be shaken when the things we hope for do not come to pass.
Don’t forget that God does not make mistakes. Whatever door has been closed for you has been closed for a reason. I honestly believe that if God wanted me in Oxford then I would have got there, no bother. I also believe that if he didn’t, he would firmly shut the door. If something hasn’t happened for you, don’t get grumpy with God, complaining that he has done something wrong – he will open the right doors at the right time. (He has made everything beautiful in its time. Eccl 3v11)
I don’t have a clue what is happening next, but I have faith. ‘Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see’ (Hebrews 11v1). If I am completely honest, this total uncertainty is scary, but so exciting! I have so many options open to me, and I know that I am completely in the will of God, so whatever doors open, they will be the right ones. Because I have put my hope in His promises, I am not afraid of what will come any more, I know it will be the best for me.
If you are in a place right now, like I was, facing a disappointment that has devastated you, take hope in the fact that God works all things for the good! At Soul Survivor this year we studied Joseph (it spoke to me an incredible amount) and in Genesis 50v20 it says ‘you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good’. He will bring you out of this, and he will heal you, just like he has with me. So much good has come out of this, I would go through it all again to gain all the wisdom, gifts and knowledge of God I have. I know he loves me (and I know he loves you too!) he desires to give us the best, only the best, and help us to become the absolute best we can be. Sometime we have to face disappointment for us to receive his best. Hold on, because whatever is breaking you is making you.
God’s ways are the best. Sometimes it takes some hard lessons to learn that, but put your trust in the promises of the one who created the universe and still knows how many hairs are on your head.