This was the news I had been hoping not to get since the pandemic began. And finally it came. The thing I had been looking forward to for a year was just not going to happen. I was crushed with grief. Talking about it with my support system just wasn’t helping. So I went to Jesus. I talked to Him about how hard it was to experience disappointment after disappointment when I was just healthy enough to look forward to things again. The grief insidiously told me to just stop hoping for things.
As we talked, I was reminded of when the angel came to the crushed, hopeless, ready-to-die Elijah and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you” (1 Kings 19:7). Can I ever identify with that! This prophet had been a fugitive from his country for years. I’m sure he had hoped that if the people could just be free from their worship of Baal and turn to worship of God, he would be able to return home. His difficulties would be over. And then it happened- God arrived in thunderous, all-consuming fire, and the people declared themselves for the Lord!
But rather than being treated like a hero in his homeland, Elijah was hunted more than ever. The relief he was expecting did not come. Instead, he was facing another hardship, one more imminent. His disappointment turned so quickly to despair that he just wanted to die. He ended up feeling utterly hopeless.
As he talked to God about it, God gave him what he needed- sustenance for a journey that was too hard for him. I don’t know exactly what he thought or talked with God about during his forty day walk to Horeb. But when he got there, God wasn’t in the wind or the earthquake or fire the way He had been on Mount Carmel. Instead, He spoke to Elijah in a gentle whisper.
As I continued to reflect on Elijah, I remembered that God talks to me in whispers too. As I gave Him my grief and all my disappointments during this pandemic, He whispered to me that my biggest disappointment was that He hadn’t returned. He hasn’t come to right all the wrongs or to fix the brokenness of the world. And as that brokenness has been so present lately, I’ve been even more ready for Him to come and redeem us all. Oh how I wanted Him to return on Easter!
Again, God whispered to me about the disappointment of John the Baptist (Matthew 11). After declaring that Jesus was the Lamb of God, he was thrown in prison. This was surely the opposite of the freedom he was expecting from the Messiah! In his disappointment, he asked Jesus about it: are you the One or should we expect someone else? And I love Christ’s response* – look at what I’m doing. Trust My character.
* “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” Matthew 11:5
His lack of return is not because of a lack of love or a lack of desire to fix the brokenness that we feel so deeply. But instead, He is doing things- He is giving all a chance to come to Him (2 Peter 3:9). And that is out of His great love. He has told us exactly what to expect. And I can trust that He hasn’t forgotten what He’s promised to do. He won’t disappoint me – He is indeed coming again.
I’m so grateful that I can bring my disappointments to God, even when I am disappointed with Him. I’m grateful for His gentle whispers that guide me to trust Him more deeply. Do I still grieve when my expectations are left unmet? Yes. And yet, bringing my grief to Him allows me to receive His comfort, goodness and love. I am so thankful for the God Who sees my crushed spirit and meets me there in gentle whispers.
Copyright 2020, Jo Leggett