She had bounced out of bed that morning and sprinted across the house to tell me the news, “It’s morning time! And I feel all better!”
I scooped her up in a hug and felt her forehead. The day before, my three-year-old had spent all afternoon on the sofa, mostly asleep, periodically waking to chatter cheerfully and then drifting back into dreams moments later.
Now here she sat on my lap a day later, placing a headband in her hair and showing it off so I could tell her how pretty it looked.
And she said, “This is what I’m going to wear to the birthday party.”
That’s when I had to tell her the news. Yesterday while she had been sleeping away the sickness, we had slipped out the door quietly for the birthday celebration.
And she had missed it.
I broke it to her as gently as I could, explaining how she had been sick, reminding her of other special days.
Yet, disappointment is full of sorrow, even when it makes sense, even if you understand why it all happened, even if you know there will be other days and other opportunities, even when you’re deep down truly okay.
Still we feel the sadness over loss.
For a three-year-old, it’s missing out on a birthday party because of a fever. She covers her face with her hands, crying to me as I comb my hand through her hair and gently pat her back because she “really wanted to go.”
For us, it could be that or so much more. It’s disappointment in ourselves and the mistakes we make, so much foolishness, words that we speak without thinking, sins, habits, failings, misjudgments and mis-steps.
Or it could be disappointment in God for not sticking to THE plan (AKA “our plan”) or for the deliverance that delays or seemingly doesn’t come.
Or maybe it’s disappointment with others and how they’ve let us down or wronged us or hurt us in ways we carry as scars long after the initial injury.
Disappointments can’t be erased completely. My girl missed that party and there’s no conjuring it up again or transporting through time to relive the moment.
So it is for us. The past is the past and there it is.
Yet, God is a redeeming God: Redeeming our circumstances even when it’s our own foolish fault for being in this ugly mess….reminding us of His perfect plans far surpassing our imperfect schemes…renewing our hope even when all we see at the moment is hopelessness.
This is what God promised to do for His people in the book of Hosea, as they wallowed in this disappointment—knowing it was their own disobedience that led to captivity, feeling hopelessly lost and uncertain about the future.
Therefore, I am going to persuade her,
lead her to the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her vineyards back to her
and make the Valley of Achor
into a gateway of hope.
There she will respond as she did
in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came out of the land of Egypt.
(Hosea 2:14-15 HCSB).
That Valley of Achor is something we know; all of us have walked those paths of shadows. It means “Valley of Trouble,” the lonely walking beneath the mountains, barely touched by light, unable to see over the peaks, feeling oh so very far from rescue or escape.
Yet our God so gently promises to take that Valley of Trouble and do what our transforming, redeeming God always does—make it “into a gateway of hope.”
After all, He knows the pathway out of disappointment.
He knows what encouragement our hearts need.
He knows sometimes we need to sob for a moment and express the sadness and then move on with our day, looking for new joy rather than dragging along that regret like a chain holding us captive to the past.
He knows we may need to shake that burden of shame, recrimination and regret right down off our back and to just let…it…go already.
Yes, God can transform whatever valley of trouble or disappointment you find yourselves in. He is indeed always a God of Hope (Romans 15:13).
But we have to look up to see the change.
If we’re trudging along with our eyes fixed on the ground of the valley, we’ll never see it become a Gateway of Hope, never see that there’s a way out, never notice that suddenly it’s beautiful and freeing and maybe not the end of the world it felt like just a moment ago.
Valleys always look like endless valleys until we look up and notice we’re free.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King