Disappointment. We all face it from time to time. We may find ourselves disappointed with others, with ourselves, or with a situation we find ourselves in. If we’re honest, there may be times we even wrestle with being disappointed with God. Perhaps He answered a faith-filled prayer with a “no” or a “not yet.” Or maybe He simply seems silent, and the confusion continues to feels overwhelming.
For parents whose children live with a mental health disorder, disappointment is likely a familiar emotion. Disappointment comes when our young daughter’s intense behaviors push away yet another potential friend; or when our teenage son, in a desperate attempt to numb his emotions, experiments with drugs and alcohol; or when our adult child relapses and is hospitalized once again.
What does God’s grace look like when it comes face to face with our disappointment? I covered the broad topic of disappointment and God’s grace in my book, A Day in the Life. Here are a few stories from chapter three, “Face to Face with a ‘No’ from God: Our Disappointment — His Grace.”
One mom quietly whispered her pain, “I’ve often pleaded with God to heal my daughter’s mind and emotions, to take away her anxieties and bring her some freedom. I’ve implored God to give her one or two good friends—ones who would treat her with respect and kindness. I’ve asked God to help her find and keep a job, to provide her with employment to fill her days and give her satisfaction. None of these things would be hard for God to do. Yet in the midst of so many other answered prayers, God seems silent on these. And it hurts. To be honest, there are times I feel sad and disappointed with the way God chooses to work.”
Bruce and Rhonda, whose two young adult children struggle with deep psychological brokenness, shared their honest emotions with me. “We do struggle with disappointment and even some anger at God. Life is just hard. Our expectations were so high, and the reality is so different. It’s hard how everything in our lives came apart as our kids got older.
Kimberly stated, “Yes, my husband and I are sometimes sad and disappointed with how life turned out. We certainly didn’t sign up for this, and neither did our daughter, Skylar. There are times I find myself questioning God and asking Him, ‘Why?’ Why did He allow such horrible abuse to scar my child? There are times I say, ‘I can’t believe this is my daughter’s life. I can’t believe this is MY life.’”
What would it look like to let your disappointment lead you to God’s grace? In 2 Cor. 12:9, the apostle Paul wrote, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (NIV).
What does His grace look like? Perhaps God’s grace is:
- His arms surrounding you, comforting you as you grieve the loss of your dreams;
- His love pouring into you, giving you the grace to love those who do not understand your journey;
- His joy bubbling out of you, as you celebrate your child’s unique view of life;
- His peace filling you, calming your temper as you deal with your child’s rage;
- His patient understanding of you, knowing this was not how you thought your life would be;
- His kindness energizing you, giving you the gumption to reply to the teacher’s email, to return your irate neighbor’s phone call, to finish filling out still more paperwork, to research your child’s latest diagnosis, to run to the pharmacy, to make the next therapy appointment, to cross one more thing off your to-do list;
- His goodness singing over you, blessing you with a full night’s sleep;
- His faithfulness motivating you, encouraging you to finally reach out for professional help;
- His gentleness waking you, giving you the desire to walk into another day;
- His temperance controlling you, enabling you to do the next right thing.
Are you willing to trust God, even in the midst of sadness, confusion and disappointment? Are you willing to let your disappointment lead you straight into God’s arms of grace?
Jesus, in our vulnerability we whisper, “Your grace is sufficient for me today. Your power is made perfect in weakness.” Show us Your grace, Lord. Entrust us with Your power. We know we can’t do this on our own. This situation is too big and we’re too tired, too weak. We find ourselves face to face with a “no” from You, and we’re frightened, fearful and worried. Sometimes we struggle with anger—at our children, our situation, ourselves—even at You. Yet You calmly remind us time and again, “My grace is sufficient. It’s all you need. My power is made perfect in weakness.” Thank You, dear Jesus, for the sufficiency of Your grace. It’s the only way we can truly get through our days with any semblance of victory. Thank You for the great exchange You continually offer. You take all our weakness, pain, sadness and disappointment and offer us the beautiful gift of Yourself. You are enough, Jesus. You are always and forever enough. We love You. Amen.
photo credit: chen-zo-1210418-unsplash