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Hardships and Trials

When Disillusionment Steals Our Joy

 

It’s easy to allow discouragement to morph into disillusionment and for disillusionment to taint our heart, distancing us from God and blinding us to His hand. But, as my guest today shares, if we’re alert and prayerful, if we’re diligent to hold tight to truth and Christ, disillusionment can also lead to incredible growth and can provide a glorious redirection.

Quote image: God sees you

I Didn’t Think it Would be Like This.

By Donna Jones

We never saw it coming. I expected this kind of behavior from a non-believer, but from a Christian?

Never.

The gap between my expectations and my reality left my tender soul shredded into tiny little pieces, like the bits of paper you throw as confetti. Except this was no celebration. I wondered how a heart ripped to shreds could ever be whole again.

Enter disillusionment; the place where expectations and reality collide.

I remember thinking, How did this happen? Why did this happen?

I’ve heard the same sentiment echoed a thousand times by women in different circumstances: The wife whose husband walked out the door; the couple that followed God’s leading, only to be hurt by those they tried to help; the gal who battled health and financial crisis; the woman who stepped out in faith, and failed. And then there’s the mom of the toddler, the mom of the teenager, the mom of the prodigal, and the sweet gal who just wants to be a mom.

They all wrestle with the thought: I didn’t think it would be like this.

But it is.

So, what now?

 

Generally, disillusionment doesn’t happen overnight (although it can). Typically, disillusionment starts as disappointment, which leads to discouragement, which morphs into discontentment, which lands as disillusionment. Think of it like this:

Disappointment + Time = Discouragement

Discouragement + Time = Discontentment

Discontentment + Time = Disillusionment

How do you know if you’ve moved from disappointment to disillusionment?

You’ve lost hope.

You’ve checked out.

You’re desperate to control.

You’re bitter

You’re cynical.

You’re mad at God.

You’re suspicious of others.

You’ve given up on your faith, yourself, or God.

May I whisper just a few words of hope to you? You. Are. Not. The. First.

In the Bible, the prophet Elijah dealt with disillusionment. So did Sarah, the matriarch to the Jewish nation revealed in Genesis, and Job, the ancient man whose intense suffering is revealed in the Bible book bearing His name. At some point, most of us travel through the dark tunnel of disillusionment. How we deal with disillusionment determines how we come out on the other side. Click To Tweet

So how can we handle disappointment so it doesn’t morph into disillusionment, and derail us?

  1. Acknowledge Loss

It’s OK to feel sad when things don’t turn out like we hoped. Part of navigating disappointment before it becomes disillusionment is to acknowledge our loss.

During difficult seasons David, ancient Israel’s second king, poured out his heart to God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8 NIV).

1 Peter 5:7 tell us to “cast all your anxiety upon Him, for He cares for you.”

When we pour out our problems to God, God pours in His perspective to us.

If we bottle our burdens we may become convinced God doesn’t care, but if we cast our burdens we may be certain God does. Click To Tweet
  1. Examine Expectations

Disillusionment occurs when we feel something is not as good as we believed it to be. These beliefs are based on expectations.

Unexamined expectations are likely to be unrealistic expectations, and unrealistic expectations are likely to become unrealized expectations.

Unrealized expectations leave us disappointed, discouraged, discontent, and disillusioned.

When an expectation isn’t realistic, it’s easy to become disillusioned, so we must ask, “Is my expectation realistic?”

  1. Cling to Christ

When disappointment leaves us reeling, we have two choices: Run to God, or run from God. One choice brings closeness and comfort; the other choice brings distance and disillusionment.

Is it always easy to rely on God while enduring difficulty? No, it isn’t.

Quote pulled from post

But reliance on God during my storm brings redemption from God to my story. Click To Tweet

Joseph, the ancient Hebrew turned Egyptian slave, experienced this first hand, after his brothers’ betrayed him. Because Joseph clung to God through the heartache and hurt, he could look his brothers square in the eye and declare, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.(Genesis 50:20 NIV)

How do you handle disappointment from unmet expectations? What lessons have you learned by choosing to rely on God, even when it’s hard? 

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV) 

 

Get to know Donna! 

A pastor’s wife and national speaker, Donna Jones is a Bible teacher/explainer, who’s spoken in twenty-five states and on four continents, keynoting events of more than 1000. Donna is the author Seek: A Woman’s Guide to Meeting God, Raising Kids with Good Manners, and Taming Your Family Zoo, and is a contributing author to the 365-day devotional, A Moment to Breathe. She has been on numerous radio and television shows, including Focus on the Family and Good Day Dallas, and writes regularly for Crosswalk.com. 

Donna loves sipping a really good cup of coffee, and hanging with her pastor/hubby or one of their three young adult kids, who frequently sit on her kitchen counter just to chat. Donna would love to connect with you at www.donnajones.org or on Instagram at donnaajones.

Disillusionment hurts and can derail us or push us to draw us closer to Jesus. For those of you who’ve been doing our Becoming His Princess study, you’ll see, for Sarah, unmet longing appeared to follow the negative progression Donna warns us of in her post. As Donna shared, we all face this risk. When disillusionment hits, it can drive us closer to Jesus or distance us from Him. You can hear my thoughts on this, and how we can actively guard our hearts against this, in Becoming His Princess’s opening session, week three. Listen HERE.

If you’re just starting the study, you can watch week one’s opening session HERE and week two’s opening session HERE. (Video sessions will be uploaded as they’re completed.)

You can listen to session two HERE.

And you can pick up your own copy, free, HERE.

Cover image for studyIf you live local, you can still join us for live teaching each Tuesday night at Wildewood Christian, located in Papillion. You can also join us, starting in March, for live teaching on Tuesday mornings or evenings (two options) at Christ Community Church in Omaha. (Registration links will open soon.)

Want us to come to your church? Contact us HERE.

security

Building a Secure Life in the Midst of Uncertainty

Graphic for Ps. 71:5

I understand the fear of financial insecurity. I went through a period where, out of fear, I guarded and obsessed over every penny. But I soon learned, not only did my efforts fail to bring me any lasting security; they actually placed me in emotional bondage. I thought of this as I read our guest Julie Holmquist’s post. As you read about her insecurity to security experience, consider how God might want to bring you to a similar place.

Building a Secure Life in the Midst of Uncertainty

By Julie Holmquist

Building my life upon anything other than God is building on a flimsy and shakey foundation that won’t stand up to pressure and adversity.Building my life upon anything other than God is building on a flimsy and shakey foundation that won’t stand up to pressure and adversity. Click To Tweet

Have you ever created a house of cards? As a young girl, my siblings and I would compete to see how tall of a structure we could build. One wrong move, though, and the entire structure would fall to the floor.

As a wife, I found myself trying to build my life with something just as flimsy and precarious as a deck of playing cards—the status of our bank account.

Of course, I could hide behind the facade of wanting to be a good financial steward. In reality, I was anxiously trying to insulate us from economic disaster whether from an unexpected layoff, a downturned economy, or unforeseen expenses. You see, I wanted to know my needs would always be provided for even if I had to take care of them myself. To me, security meant being prepared for anything and everything.

I was consumed with planning and preparing for the “what ifs”, but there’s no way to plan for all the unknowns. We cannot fully know the future, but we can fully trust the One Who is already there. That’s why our finances are an unreliable source of security in time of real need.

52-Card Pick Up

A year ago, my house of cards came tumbling down. My husband unexpectedly lost his job right after Christmas. I battled panic, anxiety, and fear heading into the New Year. I was falling apart inside while trying to help keep it together and encourage my husband in his loss.

Christmas cheer was fading fast, but then God took me to Matthew 6:

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:26-33, ESV)

Nothing changed with my husband’s employment status after reading this Scripture, but I changed. I knew God wanted me to find my security in Him instead of the ups and downs of our finances. I was at peace — the kind of peace that doesn’t make sense. That peace carried me the entire Image of sunset above the cloudsnine months he remained unemployed.

I’m not saying we sat back and just waited for God to do something while we went skiing or binge watched Netflix. But because I now knew where my security came from, I found peace in the midst of the unknown. My security rests in the fact that I am God’s daughter, and He promises to provide for me.

Being secure in Whose I am, I felt like a little girl whose daddy took her to the park. I was free to explore and play without fearing my daddy would forget about me. I didn’t need to constantly remind him that I was his daughter and it was his job to feed me.

Let’s Talk About This!

What are you looking to for your security? Finances? Your looks? The ebb and flow of relationships?

I want to encourage you to look to the Only One Who can fill that need in you to feel secure. He is your Rock! Never changing. Never moving!

Get to Know Julie

Julie Holmquist is an author who currently writes on her blog at Stuff of Heaven and is also a contributing author for Devotableapp.com. Julie has written and produced video devotionals as well. She graduated from Christ for the Nations Bible school in Dallas, TX and holds an associates degree in practical theology. She enjoys all things personality and has probably taken every personality test there is (ENTP and an Enneagram 7w8). Julie loves the body of Christ (the Church) and smiles BIG when people are passionate about walking in their God-given callings and giftings–whatever they may be.

She and her husband have four sons and recently relocated to Charlotte, NC from Colorado Springs, CO.

You can find Julie online at her blog, Stuff of Heaven, follow her on Instagram at Stuff of Heaven and at Twitter at Stuff of Heaven,and connect with her on Facebook at Stuff of Heaven (Julie Holmquist)

Cover image for studyWant to explore this topic deeper and take steps toward increased security and emotional freedom? Then make sure to grab our free Bible study, Becoming His Princess! You can grab the  e-version HERE or purchase the print copy for only $7 HERE. You can watch opening session videos HERE (They’ll be loaded to our YouTube channel as we film them.) or listen to the audio versions HERE.

You might also enjoy:

identity

Owning the Label I Once Spurned

Picture of Jessica with text pulled from post

It took me a long time to own up to being a Christian. I believed in God and willingly accepted Jesus as my Savior—all that was fine.

I didn’t want to be lumped in with some of the other Christians I knew, and frankly didn’t like very much. The sanctimonious girl at school who invited me to church not because she wanted me there, but because she felt it was her job to expose me to her denomination. The cutthroat, super-ambitious guy at work who ogled me daily but wore his churchgoer status like it was his get-out-of-jail-free Monopoly card. The nosy neighbor who’d tell me all about her church bake sale and that Sunday’s sermon while simultaneously gossip-slaughtering everyone else on the block. No thanks.

So when my friend called and offhandedly teased me about having “turned into one of those Christians,” I was taken aback. While I knew what I believed, I certainly didn’t want to be relegated to the judgy, holier-than-thou classification she wanted to pin on me.

I’m not sure whether I laughed her off and changed the subject, or flat-out denied her tag to save face. But I do remember hanging up the phone and feeling just like the Apostle Peter after Jesus’s arrest.

Peter was extremely close with Jesus and part of his inner-circle, so fervent and loyal a Christ-follower that Jesus called him “the rock” upon which He would build His church (Matthew 16:18-19). When Jesus told him he’d fall away and, in fact, reject Christ three times before the rooster crowed that very night, you can almost see Peter’s “no way, never!” scoff (Matthew 26:34).

Yet, sadly, that’s exactly what happened. Trying to avoid capture himself, Peter insisted once, twice, and finally a third time that he “didn’t know the Man.” Just then, the rooster crowed, “And Peter remembered Jesus’ statement, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75 ESV).

That day on the phone with my friend, I denied my Lord. In my reluctance to get categorized as the “wrong kind of Christian,” in effect I’d taken myself out of the category altogether. What I’d done felt like a punch to the throat.

See, denying Jesus isn’t just rejecting our faith. It’s also being embarrassed about the label we carry. It’s being more concerned about the way others see us than the way God sees us. Click To TweetLooking back, I recognize I denied Him in other ways throughout my youth, like when I didn’t speak up when I witnessed injustice, or when I caved to sin instead of holding fast to what I knew to be right.

Today I’m proud to call myself a Christian. When I meet someone who gives me the side-eye, even better—I know it’s a chance to give someone a new perspective on the term, a chance to represent what it looks like to be a modern-day Jesus-follower. Click To Tweet

Owning my Christian label was a big step in embracing my faith and my identity in Jesus. As with Peter, it took understanding how I’d fallen short—and making a choice to step up from then on out—to experience freedom.

Have you ever felt hesitant to claim a label because you were afraid how you’d be perceived? How have you learned to overcome your discomfort?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below and make sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram!

And before you go … have you grabbed your free ecopy of our Bible study yet? If not, you can do so HERE! (You can get a print copy for just $5 HERE.)

Also, make sure to visit us on Crosswalk to receive daily devotions sent directly to your inbox. You can find our devotions HERE. 

Bible studies

Available Now! Becoming His Princess

Imagine what our days and confidence level would look like if we truly lived in God’s grace and the knowledge that we are loved. We are loved when we mess up, when we act ugly, when we move forward, and when we simply sit still.

We are loved. Period.

And in Christ, we are enough. He wants to take us to a place where our identity is placed not in our accomplishments, dress size, or bank account but in Him, His love, and the price He paid for us.

Starting January 15th, we’re going to be presenting Becoming His Princess live at Wildewood Church in Papillion. We’re also going to be shooting our video segments. Yay! We’d love for you to come and be a part of that! You can register HERE.

To give you a taste of what you’ll experience, you can catch the audio for week one, which will be presented live at Wildewood, HERE.

Grab a free ecopy HERE!

Grab a print copy HERE.