By Laura Reinke
Amidst coronavirus health concerns and an ever-changing society, many families are facing cancellations of special events: graduations, confirmations, weddings, funerals, vacations, birthday celebrations, anniversaries, just to name a few.
With so many aspects of our lives feeling unpredictable right now, it seems as if the one thing we can predict is disappointment. As Christians, we can find hope and reassurance in God’s Word because we know it’s the one thing in our life that does not disappoint. His Word is eternal, true and unfailing.
God’s Word outlines four guidelines that can help you move from disappointment to peace in these uncertain times.
#1. Acknowledge the Disappointment
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
He delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34 acknowledges our broken hearts and crushed spirits. Cancelled graduations and postponed weddings are disappointing because we had expectations of how things were “supposed to be.” Take time to acknowledge the disappointment and feelings of sadness, grief, confusion, anger and being “cheated.” Share your feelings with a trusted friend or loved one. Cry out to the Lord in prayer and lay your burdens on Him, He hears you.
#2. Change your Perspective
1 Peter 5:10
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
Once you have acknowledged your disappointment and accompanying feelings, find reassurance in God’s words of restoration. Our sufferings will not last indefinitely. Take a step back from the disappointment to look at it more objectively. Change your perspective. Acknowledge that you are not the only one facing this disappointment. The world is not out to ruin your life. Many people are facing major disappointments just like you. Looking at the situation objectively can help you recognize what you do and don’t have control over. You may not have control over your graduation date, but you DO have control over finishing your semester strong. You may not have control over attendance at a loved one’s funeral, but you DO have control over how many times you call and check in on grieving family members. Control what you can control and trust that the Lord will restore you.
#3. Be Thankful
1 Thessalonians 5:17-19
Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Changing your perspective allows you to stop focusing on “what am I missing?” and to acknowledge the blessings you DO have, right now. Research has demonstrated that adopting an “attitude of gratitude” has real mental health benefits. Being thankful reduces stress and is linked to higher levels of self-reported happiness. In days of quarantine and limited supplies of toilet paper, how can I be thankful? I am thankful that God’s mercies are new each morning. I am thankful for coffee (and coffee creamer). I am thankful that I can walk outside, several times each day, to take a break. I am thankful that my children will all graduate and have a certificate to prove it, even if they don’t get to walk across a stage. I am thankful that I have parents to call. I am thankful for ZOOM and for FaceTime. Take time each day to list 5 things you are thankful for. Share them with your family or friends. Take time to pray and thank your Savior for your health, family, a roof over your head, and for your salvation. Shifting our focus to gratitude, leaves less room in our hearts and minds for feelings of disappointment.
#4. Make a Plan
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
With a new perspective and a thankful heart, it’s time to make a plan. What can you control? You can’t control the date of graduation or the monumental anniversary celebration, but YOU CAN control how you choose to celebrate, with extra time to plan. Maybe the graduation party won’t follow the ceremony in the heat of June, but you could have fun planning the “launch to college” party in August! The anniversary “date” may pass during quarantine, but you could still celebrate with a video party or a drive-by parade. Take a deep breath, and consider the opportunity that awaits. God’s words in Jeremiah remind us that the Lord has a plan, even in the midst of a pandemic; He promises us hope and a future. The world is ever-changing at a rapid pace and so is our disappointment, events are cancelled and tomorrow seems uncertain. What we DO know, is that the Lord is in control. He gives us each other to share our disappointments; he promises to restore us and has a plan for our lives. We can trust that God is in control…and that will never change.
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Just a note: In addition to being a counselor with CFS, Laura Reinke, is a mother of three children, all who were facing graduations this spring. Her family and friends were the motivation behind this blog. She finds daily strength in the Lord’s words from Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”