Is feeling disappointment ok? As a Christian, aren’t we supposed to always be walking in this confidence of God giving us the best life? That’s kind of what we’re told. And to me, that sounds like we should be meeting everything with smiley excitement about what God might have planned. Even with the bad stuff, which feels both impossible and really phony…
Yet, isn’t that what the Bible is telling us to do?
I mean, I look at verses that tell me things like Paul was even content while he was beaten within an inch of his life and thrown into prison (Philippians 4:12) and I just think, “Wow, I’m a terrible human being.” I know God told me He has a plan for my life, but I still sometimes find myself in tears over the disappointments that I feel. Does that mean God is looking down on me and seeing an ungrateful, spoiled little child?
It certainly feels like it.
The other day, I was hit with a tsunami wave of disappointment. I felt hurt, I felt frustrated… and I felt guilty. I tried to fix the hurt, to patch it up and hide it so that I could still be a presentable Christian who looked like I was trusting God. Because if I was sad, that meant I wasn’t trusting, right?
Only now am I realizing that God understands our hurts. He isn’t angry when we feel less than happy. He created emotion, and He also suffered emotional stress while here on Earth. Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We can know that God fully understands life on Earth, not only because He is God, but because He lived it.
Plus, there is this beautiful account of Jesus on Earth just caring and comforting and loving people in the midst of sadness in John 11, right after the death of His good friend, Lazarus. When Jesus arrived at that house, Lazarus’s sisters were hurting. Each of them, when they saw Jesus, fell at His feet and said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (verse 20). They were mourning, and questioning why God had not chosen to heal. They trusted God, but His plan wasn’t making sense. Little did they know, Jesus was going to raise their brother back to life that day.
Jesus knew, though, and even said to the sisters, “if you would believe you would see the glory of God.” Talk about a reminder of God’s control! But did Jesus scold the women for their sadness? I mean, He told them God had a plan, so shouldn’t He now have told them to stop moping? But He didn’t. Not once. Instead, verse 35 says, “Jesus wept.”
The God of the universe who knew the ends of eternity, who knew that Lazarus would only be dead for only about 5 more minutes, who knew God had a plan, cried with those women. He mourned with them. He felt their hurt and made it His own.
As He does with us. 1 Peter 5:7 reminds us to be “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” He wants to hear about our pain and disappointment, to help us through it, because He cares.
What comfort that story and that verse brought to my disappointed heart. Even though my story is hardly devastating, I was reminded of the deep love God has for me, even through my tears.
I learned that disappointment is not necessarily a sin. It’s a part of life on this messed up planet, and God knows that.
The problem comes when we begin to doubt God’s plan, and His goodness.
If we look back at that story in John 11, one of the sisters, Martha, showed us how we can both feel sadness, and still hold on to God’s promises. When Martha talked with Jesus, she started with the same thing her sister said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died,” but, unlike her sister, she kept going. She said, “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You,” and a few verses later she declared, “I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Martha’s faith shined through her sadness.
We have to remember that God loves us with a lavish, incomprehensible love that longs for our best, despite our own sinful natures. He has promised to guide us, to comfort us, and to work for good in our lives (even if it’s not the good we expect).
God is, in fact, the definition of goodness. And if we hold on to that truth with all that we have, we can make all requests to God knowing that, “if not, He is still good.”
He is still good, He is always good. Praise the Lord.