July 30, 2021
Have you ever experienced feeling so frustrated and disappointed that you actually considered quitting, cutting ties with people, or giving up on yourself?
Disappointments and frustrations tend to wound our faith and numb our hearts. When we constantly experience disappointments, it can either make us question our faith in God or make us apathetic towards the world around us.
The prophet Jeremiah, the author of Lamentations, also experienced deep frustration and heavy disappointment. After years of warning God’s people about His judgment and calling them to repent, they persisted with their wickedness and were finally conquered by the Babylonians.
Years of effort seemingly gone, just like that. He was disheartened, to say the least.
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Sounds familiar? It may be a nationwide crisis such as this seemingly never-ending pandemic and the ever-changing levels of restrictions. Or it could be a failed exam, a problem with family and friendships, unmet expectations, a loss of motivation, or a cycle or situation you feel stuck in.
Either way, I imagine you’d be disheartened, too.
How do you cope when things get frustrating or disappointing?
“NOPE. I don’t want to have anything to do with that anymore.”
Whether that’s an unmet expectation at home, a conflict with your friends, or a failed attempt to do better in school, our biggest tendency is to withdraw from the things that disappoint us.
We run far away.
We hide far from sight.
Whenever we experience pain and disappointment, our brain senses danger and triggers a self-preservation response in our body. Hence, we run away from the things that hurt us and hide in places we consider our fortress.
We drown our stress by indulging ourselves with comfort food. We bury our pains with school work. We distract our minds by playing our favorite mobile games. Or we escape in a make-believe world, watching a K-drama or movies.
Instead of recognizing the pain, we beat our chest and pretend to be unaffected. We put on a brave face, force a fake smile, and post a meme to hide the searing pain inside our hearts.
Instead of calling for help, we distance ourselves from people who are willing to help us. We build up walls to protect ourselves from further disappointment. We look down on ourselves and beat ourselves up for being not good enough, not funny enough, or not lovely enough.
Worse, we give up on people and on ourselves, thinking that there’s no other way to go.
But, is there a better way to cope?
“COPE. Maybe—just maybe—there’s light at the end of this tunnel.”
As the self-preservation instinct subsides along with our emotions, we slowly regain clarity and control. We’re now at a crossroads: Will I keep hiding and running away? Or will I face this reality and do the right thing?
Taking some time off to nurse our wounds and to heal from pain isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually necessary and can be our first response to cope with the shock. But what puts us at risk is the prolonged isolation that can give the devil and our own minds a playroom to fabricate lies and add insult to injury.
Healing or moving on may start with recognizing what hurt us. But to move forward, we have to make a firm and conscious decision to get up and seek help.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope . . .
Jeremiah started by venting all of his pain and frustrations to God, but he didn’t stop there.
Despite the gruesome reality that surrounded him, he made a conscious decision to “call to mind” something else that will give him hope and healing.
He didn’t choose to wallow in self-pity nor did he give up on his mission. He didn’t escape from his reality by distracting himself with other things. He saw the brutal facts, but he held on.
“HOPE. I will believe again.”
The beautiful thing about hope is that it lets us see and do the same things, but with a different perspective.
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Instead of running away, Jeremiah ran to God for refuge.
When we hope in God in the middle of our disappointments and pain, we will encounter His character, His steadfastness, His faithfulness.
Instead of hiding from the world and retreating to our place of isolation, we can hide under the shadow of God’s wings.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.
Some shadows block off the light of the sun and extinguish the warmth of our soul. But in the shadow of God’s wings, we can find refuge for our souls and a safe place to heal and to hope.
How do we start hoping again after facing so much pain and disappointment?
Stop running away.
Run to God.
Come out of your hiding, and hide under the shadow of God’s wings, along with His people who can journey with you towards healing.