We’ve all felt it. It comes in various shapes and sizes without respect for age or background. It can kick you in the gut—when you don’t get a desired job, or make the team, or garner attention from someone you were sure you would marry. Maybe it stabbed you when a trip to the bathroom dashed your hopes of a longed-for pregnancy. I still remember several years of that longing-turned-disappointment.
As we live more years and know more people, disappointments seem to loom at every corner. We feel the disappointments of poor choices made by friends or family (or ourselves)—and relationships that didn’t turn out the ways we had envisioned. Often they come in the form of health challenges. We don’t ask for them, plan for them or desire them in any way.
As I have mentioned before, my husband has a (still) undiagnosed central nervous system disorder. In a year’s time this villain has stolen his ability to walk, caused great fatigue and various other difficulties. However, recent MRI findings brought us new hope for a treatment that could “fix it.” The doctors thought they saw a vein formation putting pressure on the spinal cord. To confirm this MRI “finding” my husband would need to go through a procedure (an angiogram) to locate and treat the problem.
We counted the days until August 10th—the day of the procedure. Though we knew it was not a sure cure, the doctors were hopeful and so were we. Full of faith, we dreamed of how we’d celebrate our new miracle.
Instead, the procedure showed the MRI findings to be false. To add insult to injury, he had a very difficult time waking up from anesthesia causing enough concern to land him an extra hospital stay. The night he came home he developed a high fever from infection. That day was also the hottest day of the year, and for some unknown reason the power in our house went out. It felt like cruel irony—power gone. It seemed that all we had hoped for resulted in “disappointment on steroids.” A hard kick in the gut.
With significant sleep deprivation, the next morning I sat in a 100 degree parking lot outside of a lab while holding a little sterile jar of pee in a bag—and sobbed. And prayed. And wrestled with God. I asked him if he had heard me, and if he cared. I “reasoned” with him that we could accomplish so much more with renewed mobility and energy. I reminded God of his promises and how faith- building it would have been for all the grandchildren who fervently pray for their Papa.
I felt like I was sinking in mud and getting nowhere—like a time I got my car stuck in mud. The car wouldn’t move forward, and sank lower and lower. I then reasoned that if perhaps I stepped on the accelerator a little harder I get could get out. Instead, mud flew and I sank even deeper.
Several things were needed in order to dig out. (A good cry was one of them.) I didn’t want to sink in the mud then, and I don’t want to sink in my disappointment now. With my car, I needed some solid ground, some trial and error, a push and a tow in order to move forward. I needed the same in that hot parking lot, holding the sad, now infected jar of pee.
When my car was stuck, I grabbed handfuls of nearby gravel—solid ground to put beneath the wheels. Likewise, when sinking in disappointment I must find solid ground—“one piece of gravel” at a time. The solid ground is truth. I must hold on to truth. We live in spiritual battleground and Satan wants me to believe the lies—that God doesn’t care or have our best interest. Two of the many “truth rocks” I rely on are:
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:16-18a)
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge…
One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong,
and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done. (Psalm 62:5-7, 11-12)
The solid ground also includes the majesty of creation. As I observe nature and smell the summer gardens, view the sunset and hear the oceans roar I am reminded that God is the potter. I am the clay. As I see around me the love of a mother for her child and witness lives who have radically changed— I know love is from God. God loves me. He hears me. I rely on this. I know this in my mind and place it in my heart. I don’t have the big picture. He does.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
The solid ground includes the immeasurable blessings and answered prayers I have already received from my father: My salvation, his spirit within me, and the hope of eternal life top the list.
My husband, who is a godly man of integrity is also a blessing I don’t deserve. Though not so physically strong now, to me he has never seemed stronger. The relationship I share with my children and grandchildren cause my cup to overflow with joy. My friends are a beautiful result of this solid foundation. I am blessed to be part of a loving, vibrant church who lives for God.
I dig out by finding solid ground and placing it in my heart and mind. Sometimes it takes trial and error. I don’t always get it right but God is gracious.
Sometimes I can’t seem to find the solid ground, or the gravel seems to slip from my hand. That’s how I felt in that parking lot. So, in that hot parking lot I texted my daughters and friends to tell them I was hurting and needed help. I needed encouragement. And they sent it. In scriptures, in prayers, and in encouraging words. I needed the push, and the tow to help me dig out.
And I have hope. No disease or disappointment can take that away.
Grab your solid ground, keep trying, ask for a push, and don’t be afraid to be towed. Remember you don’t have to drive alone. God has this. He always has. Our heavy foot on the accelerator doesn’t help. With God, I can do this. You can do this. Let’s dig out together.
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a new place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. (Psalm 40:1-3a)
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:3-5)