"Dealing with Disappointment and Discouragement"

by CH (CPT) Michael L. White
CONUS Replacement Center Chaplain

"Elijah was afraid when he got [Queen Jezebel's] message, and he ran to the town of Beersheba in Judah. He left his servant there, then walked another whole day into the desert. Finally, he came to a large bush and sat down in its shade. He begged the LORD, 'I've had enough. Just let me die! I'm no better off than my ancestors.'" (1 Kings 19:3-4 CEV).

The prophet, Elijah, is probably best known for his heroic actions on Mt. Carmel, described in 1 Kings 18, where he called fire from heaven to consume a water-soaked sacrifice to God. The Bible tells us that fire consumed not only the sacrifice, but it licked up every drop of water on the altar and in the trench dug around the altar to collect the run-off. After such a magnificent display of God's power, one might think Elijah would never again suffer disappointment or discouragement. However, if you read 1 Kings 19, which includes the verses I've quoted here, you will see that isn't the case. In fact, the events described in this passage may well be defined as Elijah's darkest day.

Surprisingly, when Elijah receives word from Queen Jezebel that she intends to kill him as he had just killed her false prophets, he runs for his life into the desert to the south of Judah. When he finally stopped to rest, he begged God to let him die.

What a contrast of attitudes! He went from the height of glory to the depth of despair in just a couple of days! It seems unbelievable that such a man of faith could drop so quickly, and yet, it proves Elijah is, in his own words, "no better off than my ancestors."

We are all subject to troubles that produce disappointment and discouragement in our lives. We may not get the job we interviewed for, or the assignment we wanted, or the promotion we thought we'd earned, but that doesn't mean God no longer loves us, or that He has abandoned us. I've learned that when I don't get what I prayed for, it's because God has a better plan. I usually don't figure that out till much later though, when I can look back with 20-20 hindsight. I've learned from experience, however, that this is always the case, so now I just wait to see God's better plan revealed. That doesn't mean I don't still get disappointed or discouraged over what I perceive to be my losses. Rather, it means that in the midst of my sadness, I begin looking for the "silver lining."

Whatever your disappointment or discouragement is today, I encourage you to reframe it for a fresh perspective. Remember that, from His eternal perspective, God is infinitely wiser and more knowledgeable about what we need than we will ever be. We must trust that He has a better plan for us than we could ever imagine for ourselves.