I breathed a deep sigh as I nervously opened the letter...
This was a letter that I had been waiting for the last six months with the news about whether or not I had been awarded a grant for my sabbatical next summer. I have been praying and believing the Lord for good things, and for His favor on this request.
My heart stopped as I read the words, “Unfortunately, your proposal was not among those selected for funding this year.”
I quietly returned to my office and sat alone in a sad state of what I will call “now what?” After busying myself for a few minutes I found Amy and told her about the letter that had arrived. I explained how I was feeling, describing my “disappointment, but somewhat relieved that I can now readjust my expectations.” The look on her face told me that I probably should be more devastated. She warned me that I might have some waves of discouragement about this later. It was a good word to my heart that I appreciated.
Upon driving home I called my wife and somberly shared the news with her, she too was deeply disappointed, having dinner with our board chair Kathryn Redman later that evening who worked hard to submit the proposal – it was clear we were all bummed that this amazing opportunity had not come to fruition.
The next day I was heading from my car into the church office when I heard the Lord whisper to my heart, “You have the opportunity to model Godly disappointment today.” I thought, golly, what does that mean?
Throughout the day there were different phases of dealing with disappointment.
- When I was tempted to take on some shame for not writing a good enough proposal and messing it all up – I said out loud, I am not going to fall into a place of being accused for my shortcomings by the enemy of my soul.
- By mid-morning the whispers of the enemy turned to phrases like, “so maybe it’s not your fault, but you should blame the people who made these decisions and be angry with them.” I recognized blaming in this situation just takes away from the sovereignty of God and makes God a powerless bystander who doesn’t have a plan and will for my life.
- After successfully getting through that mental battle, then came the temptation to complain and illicit sympathy from friends and co-workers. The day could have been unproductive and filled with retelling the story and wallowing in misery, allowing the disappointment of others to fuel some growing self-pity and entitlement in my soul. So I decided not to tell the story and just give the situation to the Lord whenever I thought about it.
What did I learn about what modeling Godly disappointment this week?
- I prayed for strength and said out loud to my wife – I refuse to cave into the voice of shame that would accuse me of being a bad writer and the cause of this result.
- I chose not to blame anyone else for this result, and I am viewing this decision as led by the Holy Spirit, because if this was the will of God than nothing could stop this money from being awarded to me. So, if this was really what God wanted to happen for our family – he would have seen it through. This is not the work of the devil, it is the hand of God moving.
- I chose thanksgiving for the incredible blessings of people and tangible things I have received. (that kills off entitlement)
- I sent a message to my family and told them that I wholeheartedly believe that God must have a better plan. This goes against human perspective and wisdom, but it points to a divine plan that I can’t see yet. It’s a trust that God might be protecting me from something, or redirecting me into a better plan for my sabbatical leave. Could He be sparing my life due to an accident that would have happen, or making sure I am in a different location to experience something that is critical for my growth? I have to believe that God desires for me to have the best things, and I want to trust that He is redirecting me.
As I walk through the rest of this week, I am really leaning on the sovereignty of God over all things – and choosing to believe God’s goodness is still in full force. He has not forgotten me and His will has not been trumped by the enemy of my soul. Now I will listen for his voice to prompt me to re-plan and move forward.
Maybe you are facing some major disappointment much more difficult than my current situation. May God lead you through your grief with a clear view of His sovereignty. He is the King, and He is in control, even when we are wildly out of control and our hearts are wounded. He will bring his peace, comfort, perspective, and ultimately His new plan, if we seek Him.