(This wisdom for overcoming disappointment is excerpted from Christine Caine’s Undaunted: Daring to do what God Calls You to Do.)
God knows when we need nurture and healing, refreshment and sustenance, and he gives us that. In fact, for our journey, he gives us five important tools to sustain us and to help us provide sustenance to others.
1. Seek comfort in the church
When you’re hurting, going home is the best thing to do, and church is the believer’s spiritual home.
The first Sunday after Nick and I lost our baby, taking that pain and disappointment to church seemed so counter-intuitive. I knew that we would be surrounded by well-intentioned church friends asking, “How’s the pregnancy going? How is the baby?” I dreaded having to answer those questions. But we knew that we needed to go to the House of God.
What I remember most about that Sunday is not how awful it was to answer people’s questions about the baby and have to tell the news one more time, and again, and again, but rather how incredibly loving and warm our church family was to us. I had no idea how much I needed a loving community to share my burden. But God did. And as our church gathered ’round Nick and me in our grief, we were able to lift our eyes off our circumstances and see God’s loving kindness.
2. The power in worship and praise
I will never forget the moment on that Sunday when we began to sing “Blessed Be Your Name” by Matt and Beth Redman. The lyrics pierced my heart:
Blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be your name…
I felt so empty when I began singing, but with each verse, I felt more and more emotion, and soon the tears came. The cry of the psalmist broke something in me and then filled my empty soul. The weight of my grief and the burden of feeling alone spilled out; peace and confidence in the Lord’s love and care poured in. The words became my sacrifice, an offering to the Lord, who had already walked the road of suffering before me and now returned to meet me on it. I was in communion with him, knowing he wanted to bless me with “beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3). A spiritual exchange took place: I magnified the Lord instead of my disappointment. I began to remember his mercies more than my hurt.
3. The strength in choosing the joy of the Lord
Joy and happiness are not the same thing. Happiness is based on circumstances. Joy is based on God… It’s a fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22–23), something that God divinely gives us through the power of his Holy Spirit.
Nothing about the circumstance of losing my baby made me happy. Not then, and not now. Yet God cared for me in that circumstance, and in every other circumstance before and since. He met me in that loss and walked me through it, because he had something good ahead to show me. That isn’t happiness — but it’s joy.
Joy isn’t just “imitation happiness.” It’s something more. Think of happiness as the candy, the sweet. We all like sweets. But joy is like a medicine. When your heart is sick, when the pain seems unbearable — it’s the medicine you want. Sweets just won’t cut it.
“The joy of the Lord is my strength,” we sing. And when we choose to serve God, we need to do so out of his strength. This takes joy…
4. Read the wisdom of his Word
“How,” you might ask, “can you rejoice when your heart is broken and you’re hurting?”
When I learned that my baby had died, there was no escaping the pain… But feeling your disappointment and staying stuck in it are two different things. And the enemy wants you to stay stuck in disappointment. Disappointment is one of the tools in his toolbox, and it has a specific purpose: stopping you. God has incredible plans for you — and the enemy would like to keep you from ever experiencing them. God has promised to make all things new — and the enemy wants you to lose faith in that promise, and in the rest of God’s promises.
But God’s Word is full of his promises to us, and when we read it, we’re reminded of them. The psalms, in particular, helped me through my heartache because in them are some of the most pure and honest heart cries ever written. Reading them gave me permission to admit that a dream had died, a hope had waned, and I had lost something very precious… After the loss of our baby, I felt so overwhelmed that at times I didn’t know what to pray. So I let the words of David, who had walked this same path of grief before me, be my prayer and remind me that God still had a great plan and purpose for my life beyond my current disappointment…
5. Accept the love of family and friends
My dear friend Kylie was like Jesus to me during my grieving time. She allowed me to express my disappointment, but not to wallow in it. She allowed me to talk about our family tragedy, but then nudged me not to dwell upon the sadness. Her nudges forced me to keep looking ahead, to focus not on what I had lost, but on all that I still had, and all that was still ahead. She knew that there was “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
A friend will help you move forward through your disappointment and into God’s promises. When you can’t see anything but the fog of grief, a friend can help clear the way, help you laugh, bring a smile — and, like medicine, the mirth helps heal you. A friend will remind you that while there is still breath in your lungs, there is still hope — the promise of a new day. The psalmist reminds us: “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5 NKJV)…
A final thought
The enemy would like us to feel such a depth of disappointment that we never find our way back to the plan God has for us. If he can only convince us to stay stuck in our disappointment, we’ll miss many of our future God appointments. And there are some disappointments that seem so big that we can’t imagine ever being able to move beyond them. But the best way to get over your own broken heart or lost dream is to help others get over theirs. I discovered this to be true when I discovered that, because of the pain I’d endured after the loss of my own baby, I was able to help other women who had lost babies too…
Disappointment is not an end but an opportunity for a divine appointment…
-From Undaunted by Christine Caine (@ChristineCaine)
Learn more about Christine Caine’s new book Undaunted: Daring to Do what God Calls You to Do
Disappointment and Two Comforting Truths about God via Christine Caine
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