Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
Tomorrow I am supposed to jump in my car and drive five plus hours to meet up with two old friends with their friends for a prayer retreat. When I say old friends, these two special ladies knew me before I got married! In fact, they were at our wedding. 48 years ago! What an out of the blue, off the radar invitation. But, I have been fighting a virus this week. The coughing, congested feel like you’ve been drained of every energy type of virus. So here I sit, resting, praying and dealing with the possible disappointment that I won’t have the energy or health to make the trip.
I thought about the phrase “dealing with disappointment”. I pictured someone taking the different “cards” of my situation and spreading them out on a table. First is my emotions card. What is the source of my disappointment? First, there are no do-overs. This is a onetime shot. One friend, Kay, lives in Arizona, the other, Malana, in Alaska! Apparently, they have been doing this prayer retreat for many years. The friend, Laurel who is hosting this event, said yes to my coming and said, “this may well be the last time you see each other”. Kay’s health isn’t well. As I am in this valley of indecision, I realize I was looking forward to being with people that “knew me when, ” and I knew when. Old stories surfaced in my memories, fun, encouraging, and memorable answers to prayer. They made me smile.
My physical health card–am I going to be up to it to go? At my age, the reality is I take longer to recover from illness than it used to. It isn’t a card that I used to give much value to–but not I have to. Will this card trump every other card in the hand? We will have to see.
Another card that surfaced was the desire to just spend time with the Lord in a new place with new people. Hearing their hearts and learning from them. Originally, there were going to be six of us. These are women who know their God and walk with Him. Their lives have not been easy. In fact, Laurel’s husband has been in a coma for over a year, and is now in hospice care. She may not get to even attend the event (and I think I might be disappointed!) So many life lessons to be gleaned from these new and old friends. Both Kay and Malana have endured hard places, but they still choose to walk with Him. Both their spouses are still here, and I am sure my walk through the valley of death has helped them prepare, in case they find themselves alone. There is something special to be with those with whom you have history, and the Lord knows that.
The disappointing other card. My friends want me to come. It will be disappointing if I can’t make it, it is part of the package of living life. I know they will understand. But it will make us all sad. It will have to be played if I don’t feel better. Disappointing others is so hard for me. But I know the Lord will comfort their hearts, even as He will comfort mine.
Another major card in dealing with disappointment is perspective and attitude. I know that ties into the emotion card, but the choice is where am I going to put it? Do I have any other unresolved disappointments that this situation can be added to? Or am I able to look at my life, accept that these things happen and move on? Unresolved disappointment can turn into bitterness and that defiles many, as the scripture says. Not good for you or for others. Would this trip add wonderful memories, insights, and blessings to my life? Yes! But, if I can’t make it, will it really harm me in the long run? Probably not. After all, I surrendered my life to the Lord a long time ago. His ways are higher than my ways. Other disappointments (like my husband’s heart attack/stroke) were not so easy to discard. I chose not to put it in the bitterness pile for myself, my family and my Lord. I admit, some days it tried to sneak back to that pile! But friends, I encourage you to take the time to process every disappointment. For your spiritual, emotional and physical sake, it is worth it.
My perspective card is just that, my perspective. If I can’t go, I will choose not to mope and be sad. I am so grateful they want me to come. Just taking the time to reflect on our memories is such a blessing. Are there other cards in the disappointment hand? At times, yes. Disappointment often is a revealer. It reveals where our hope has been placed. I find out how mature I am, or not! Do I really have self control, or is it an area I need to keep growing? Have I learned to accept God’s yes’s as well as His no’s?
We all encounter disappointments. It’s just a reality we must accept. I am so glad the Holy Spirit helps us walk through every one if we let Him. In Luke 24, Jesus appeared to His disciples after they had walked through his death. He loved them, as He loves us, and wanted to reassure it was really Him that was raised from the dead. Disappointments come, but so does Jesus. Let us look to Him, knowing He walks with us through any dark valley we encounter. Whether or not I make it to the Prayer Retreat, I will be glad and rejoice with my God, knowing He understands.
Father, I ask You to help us learn to deal with our disappointments. Help us not to veer to the left or to the right; but to stay on course with You. Let me bring You into my disappointment, not blame You for it. In Jesus’ Name, amen.