Bill and Nicole sat in our living room sobbing. New to full time ministry, they were experiencing the deepest disappointment of their lives. A few hours earlier, Bill opened a letter from his ordination board expecting great news but instead read, “Your submission for ordination has been denied.” Devastated, embarrassed, angry, and confused, they questioned their faith and their call to ministry. We held them, prayed with them and said everything we knew to say, but Mark and I both knew that the heartache they were experiencing was the first of many painful moments in their ministry and in life.
Being in ministry does not exempt any of us from pain and disappointment. In fact, it sometimes feels more intense because we expect believers to love and honor one another; however, we are fallible. We disappoint and hurt one another; often unintentionally, but even so, the pain is still very real. Pain is a great teacher, and our response to it will determine whether we go forward in God or stay stuck in bitterness and anger.
One of the greatest benefits of pain is emotional and spiritual maturity. There are many people that have been saved for years and are spiritual babes because they are not emotionally mature. Spiritual maturity cannot occur without emotional maturity. And spiritual and emotional maturity does not occur without pain.
So how do you grow through pain?
- First, embrace the pain. Often people will try and escape the pain by over performing, isolating themselves, or covering the pain with anger. Give God time to do all that is in His heart for you in the midst of your pain.
- Fully surrender your dreams at the cross. Surrendering allows Him to fill you with His dreams.
- Journal the lessons God teaches you so you can remember His love and faithfulness.
So how do you walk out of the pain of disappointment and heartache?
- Choose forgiveness; forgiveness is a choice, an act of your will, not an emotion.
- Choose to worship. Worship puts the focus on Him and not on your pain.
- Choose to trust God for something better. He is working all things together for your good.
- Seek out encouragement and support from your pastor or a counselor.
David was a great example of someone who suffered heartache and disappointment while leading Israel. Many of David’s psalms are filled with raw emotion. I leave you with Psalm 55: 1-2, 4-5, 16-17 (NIV). I pray it comforts you knowing that He hears your cries.
Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;
hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught…
My heart is in anguish within me;
The terrors of death assail me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
Horror has overwhelmed me…
But I call to God,
And the Lord saves me.
Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress
And he hears my voice.
Julia Mateer is the Director of Women’s Small Groups at Bayside Community Church. She is also a licensed mental health counselor, writer, wife and mom. Her husband, Mark, is a pastor on staff and Director of Relate Coaching.