This was the news I had been avoiding getting 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 my grief. Talking about it with my support system just wasn’t helping. So I started telling it 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 that 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). 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 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, now he was hunted more than ever. The relief he was expecting was not there. Instead, he was facing another hardship, one more imminent. That 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 for those forty day He walked to Horeb. But when he was there, God wasn’t in the wind or 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 remember that God talks to me in whispers too. As I gave Him my grief from all my disappointments during this pandemic, He whispered to me that my biggest disappointment was that He hadn’t returned. He hasn’t come in justice to right all the many wrongs or to fix the brokenness of the world. And as that brokenness has been so present as this virus has exposed so many injustices, especially racial inequality, I’ve been even more ready for Him to come and redeem us all. Oh how I wanted Him to return on Easter! When the Murder Hornets came up and my friend commented that maybe Christians were right and this was Christ’s return, I said that was the best-case scenario. His return has been often on my mind. But He hasn’t returned. And that is a huge disappointment to me.
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 in prison. This was basically the opposite of the freedom he was expecting from the Messiah. So in his disappointment, he asked Jesus about it- are you the One or should they expect someone else? And I love Christ’s response- look at what I’m doing. Trust My character.
I feel like that helped my disappointment that He hasn’t returned. That 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 during this pandemic. But instead, He is doing things- He is trying to give 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 glad that I can bring my disappointments to God, even when I am disappointed with Him. I’m glad that He can gently whisper to me to guide me to trust His character. Does my heart groan as I see people expressing their hurts? Yes. Do I still grieve when my expectations are violated? Yes. But talking about it with Him reminds me that He is good and knowing and loving. And that really helps me when my expectations get crushed. To be able to talk with God through the grief of unrealized expectations is such a comfort. I’m so glad He allows us to come to Him like that! So thankful for the God Who sees my crushed spirit and comes in gentle whispers to talk with me.