“Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You.”
This line comes from one of my most-favorite-est songs, “It is Well,” (click the link to listen) by Kristene DeMarco. But, this line challenges me. Do I really live it?
When we miscarried our only pregnancy, my heart shattered. The dream of being a mom to that baby . . .
. . . of carrying our child to term, feeling the kicks,
. . . of one day meeting him or her . . .
. . . of becoming a mom . . .
It was gone. With the ceasing of a heartbeat.
My expectations of God—of Him bringing this dream to life—were also shattered.
The Sunday after the miscarriage, Hubs and I sat in church. I don’t know when worship was so hard as on that morning. I couldn’t sing the songs and mean them. And, somewhere in the worship set, the hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul,” came up.
Soul-deep pain clamped my mouth shut. I couldn’t sing those words.
God reminded me of the story of the song’s author, Horatio Spafford. Of how he lost his four daughters on a sea voyage. And yet, he could pen those words.
I wanted to withhold worship from the Lord. He allowed our baby to die.
He didn’t do as I had expected.
Heartache swirls around me right now. Friends and loved ones with cancer diagnoses.
Friends who doubt God’s love for them because life’s circumstances blind them to this truth.
Please tell me I’m not alone in this: I try to live my life in a way that glorifies God. In turn, I trip into the belief He will help me by letting things go the way I want them to.
But, let’s face it. God’s love for us sometimes doesn’t line up with what we think love looks like. He isn’t confined to the boxes we try to place Him in. When God doesn’t conform to our expectations, what do we do with that?
We always, always have a choice to make.
Three things we can do when God doesn’t meet our expectations:
1. Adjust our expectations. I have this unhealthy habit of believing my plans for my life are the best plans. They usually include a minimum of pain and inconvenience. Lots of comfort. And total control.
God rarely factors these elements into His plans for me, for us. He’s more concerned about us growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, about us reflecting Him from the inside to our outer world. This often means our expectations will either harden us or bring us to a place of yielding to Him.
When we adjust our expectations we choose His plans over ours, even when the circumstances hurt or don’t make sense. But, He also walks closely with us, when we choose His way over ours.
2. Look for God to show up in the midst of our disappointment, our hard seasons. He always walks with us, even when—perhaps especially when—things have not gone the way we thought they would or should. It’s when we look for Him—when we choose to lean on Him—that we can best know His comfort and His presence.
3. Worship. When we choose to worship God anyway, even when things in our life don’t go as we expected? That’s when we can know God’s pleasure, the intimacy of His presence, and His love.
When we worship God from our hearts, in the midst of our pain, we’re yielding our plans to His. We acknowledge that He is God, and He is good . . . even when it doesn’t feel like it in the moment.
When we bring our brokenness, our tears, to Him in worship . . .
. . . when we choose to trust Him even when we don’t understand the whys of the hard season . . .
. . . then we begin to look more like Jesus.
We become a brighter light and a comfort to others walking through disappointment and hardship.
That Sunday morning, as “It Is Well With My Soul” played over the speakers in our sanctuary, I chose to lift my voice to my Father, agreeing with Him that it was—or it could be—well with my soul.
And that’s when He began healing my heart.
What about you? When have you had to come to terms with unmet expectations? When has God met you in a place of disappointment?