On Disappointment and Defeat and How They Don't Have to Go Together
By Avril Occilien-Similien
Hear Him Louder Essay Series: Avril's Story
I was sure I heard God clearly.
“Share your writing.”
That was the instruction echoing in my spirit. I love journaling. I have stacks of journals on my bookshelf, where I have emptied my heart on paper over the years. Journaling is my intimate time with God and my spiritual outlet. It’s where I pour everything out to help process my daily experiences.
Why would God want me to share my writing? Better yet, who would want to read it? Out of my fear of failure and disdain for disappointment, I protested, “God, I do not want to share my writing. My writing is between You and me. It is sacred, special, and private. That settles it.”
My indignation makes me chuckle as I visualize God smiling and shaking His head at me. He replied, “Yes, your writing is sacred. Yes, it is special. Yes, it is personal, but it is not private…at least not anymore. I need you to share your writing.”
Reluctantly, with my palms sweating and my heart pounding, I obeyed and submitted my work to an upcoming writing challenge.
Then I waited.
The day came when the long-awaited email arrived. With a deep breath and a click of the mouse, there I was, face-to-face with the giant of disappointment. It glared at me, and I shrunk back and curled up in disbelief.
As I sat in a state of disappointment – that empty space where expectations do not equal reality – I heard God whisper in my spirit, “You can allow this disappointment to develop your faith, or you can allow it to destroy your faith.” The Holy Spirit began to do a work in my heart.
God revealed that He can use anything, even my disappointments. The disappointment itself may not be good, but He is good. That heart whisper from God was the encouragement I needed. It reminded me that no matter what I go through in life, God can use it to strengthen my faith…if I allow it.
I wondered, what does that look like? What does disappointment strengthening my faith look like, versus allowing it to destroy my faith? What does it look like to be disappointed but not defeated? I remembered the promise, “We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed,” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NIV).
Sometimes when I get disappointed, I doubt the promise of victory spoken over my life.
In doubting the promise, I undermine the process that God is taking me through. I begin to spiral. I think, “This will never work,” or “It will never happen,” or “What's the point in trying?”
That is what being defeated looks like.
That is what destroying my faith sounds like.
But, when I turn my disappointments over to God, He can use them to strengthen my faith. Through the Holy Spirit, He reminds me that it is time for me to shift my perspective.
Instead of asking "Why is this happening," I can ask:
“What can I learn from this?”
“How can I use this opportunity to grow?”
“What is God trying to teach me through the situation?”
“How is God working through this situation that didn't work out the way I expected?”
Can you relate? Whether it’s a writing journey, a promotion not received, a struggling marriage, a wayward child, a negative medical report, or a failed business deal – when we allow the Holy Spirit to shift our focus, disappointing situations are used to strengthen us.
May we attune our ears to God’s voice. May we defy defeat with a whisper, “Lord, help me overcome my earthly disappointments with your heavenly perspectives.”
The Hear Him Louder Essay Series is a guest writer series where God's daughters share their stories of hearing God’s whispers in their every day. It’s meant to serve as an encouragement for the times when God feels far and seems quiet. When we read each other’s stories of how He meets us, it reminds and reassures us that He is near. May this series be an invitation for us to listen for His voice together.
Don't miss any posts in this series! Subscribe to receive notifications for each new essay, posted every other Thursday. When you subscribe, you'll receive a link to a FREE five-day devotional (45 beautiful pages!) called, “Closer: Five Days to Hearing God Louder.” Each day features teaching on one posture and a guided journaling section to help us practice taking steps toward hearing God louder in our every day.
Learn more about each of these five postures:
1 | Seek: If I Seek God, Will I Really Find Him?
2 | Know: Will God Speak, Even to Me?
3 | Expect: Can I Expect to Hear God?
4 | Listen: How Do I Listen for God?
5 | Connect: Is God Really Right Here?
New to this series? Check out the rest of the series!
Interested in contributing to the Hear Him Louder Essay Series? The call for submissions opens twice a year. To submit an essay outside of those windows, contact me.
Avril finds joy in coming alongside women as they discover the freedom of allowing God's truth to permeate their hearts and guide their actions. She believes in the power of channeling the flow of the Holy Spirit and shares her insights through her blog Flow to Power and her weekly Thoughtful Thursdays segment on Facebook Live.
Avril is a wife, mother of three, entrepreneur, speaker, writer, and aspiring author. She holds a doctorate degree in Leadership and Organizational Learning and utilizes her expertise to advance the Kingdom both within and outside the church walls. She and her husband are co-founders of the GodZone Movement, a daily prayer ministry, where Avril consistently shares biblical truth with the listening audience. In her “spare” time, she enjoys coffee conversations and teatime with her close girlfriends, traveling, and simply enjoying life.