The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:1,3 NIV).
Friend to Friend
Each morning on her way to work, my mother would drop me off with my sitter, Mrs. Derryberry. I’d skip to her door, ready for the playmates, cookies, and hugs waiting on the other side. Summer meant a yard full of flowers with a swing set and wading pool for sunny afternoons.
One summer day, the scent of Mrs. Derryberry’s roses drew me around the side of her house. Breathing in the fragrance, my eyes landed on a cluster of lilies standing nearly as tall as me. Eager to smell more beautiful blooms, I poked my nose into the orange petals. Yet instead of a sweet scent, pollen filled my nose with burning pain. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I wondered how such a pretty flower could trick me into hurting myself!
You and I know all about that kind of disappointment, don’t we? You land your dream job, but bad management makes it a nightmare. You fall for the perfect guy, only to discover his betrayal behind your back. The vacation you planned for months is ruined by sickness or bad weather. You pour years of love into your child, only to see them struggle and rebel. The delight of a new home gives way to rude neighbors or expensive repairs. It feels like a bait-and-switch when the blessings we anticipate become a source of pain in the end.
In the book of Ruth in the Bible, we follow Naomi’s journey into disappointment. She and her family made the trek from Bethlehem to the country of Moab to escape a terrible famine at home. Moab held the promise of rescue, provision, and life after a difficult season of fear and hunger.
Yet after settling down in Moab, Naomi’s hopes for a healthy, happy family were tragically disappointed:
“Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons… After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband” (Ruth 1:3-5).
Instead of sustenance and life, Moab held death and loss. Naomi had nothing left, so she set out on the homeward road to Judah.
Perhaps you, too, find yourself with empty hands and a grieving heart. Your exciting plans collapsed into ruin. The loved one you cherished is gone. Your enemies are getting the last word. Like Naomi, you’re tempted to believe that “the Lord’s hand has turned against me” (v. 13) and there is no hope.
In our most painful disappointments, we face a danger that’s more destructive than our circumstances. The poison of bitterness can work itself into our hearts to make a wreck of our faith. Naomi returned home with a bitter spirit full of accusations against God for her empty, afflicted life. Instead of trusting in His love, she placed the blame for her pain at His feet.
How are you coping with disappointment today? Are you more likely to count your losses than blessings? Does everybody get an earful of what’s gone wrong and why? Do you wonder if God turned his back on you? Are you irritable and pessimistic about tomorrow? Take heart and simply remember what is true.
Psalm 23:3 says, “He leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” This stretch of life’s journey may feel too hard to bear. But we can trust that even on our hardest path God offers refreshing comfort along the way. Even though we “walk through the darkest valley,” our Shepherd never leaves our side (v. 4).
We also remember Jesus who walked his own “right path” of suffering to the cross. Instead of resisting His Father’s will, He believed in “the joy set before him” still to come (Hebrews 12:2). In time, Naomi discovered the joy God held in store for her all along. She was blessed with a caring community, a loving family, and a precious grandbaby who would take his place in the lineage of Christ.
If we turn from bitterness and trust our Shepherd, we can be confident that “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5 NIV). God’s power that raised Jesus from death to life is working for us even now. Together, let’s keep the faith.
Dear Lord, my disappointments feel so unfair. I struggle to see Your goodness. Guard my heart from bitterness that denies Your faithful love. Help me to believe You are leading me down the right path and You’re here by my side. I want to trust You with my whole heart.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
In what ways have you experienced God’s kindness and care in a difficult season?
More from the Girlfriends
In our greatest disappointments, God offers the comforting gift of prayer. Joanna has written 101 Prayers for Women to help you take your worries, praises, and hurts to the One who loves you most. Find uplifting scriptures and heartfelt prayers to refresh your faith and hope today. And, share this lovely embossed and silver-foiled gift book with a friend who needs encouragement too.
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© 2022 by Joanna Teigen. All rights reserved.
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Thank you, Joanna. This brought me comfort today and led me to be more honest with the Lord. I struggle greatly with grief and loss. It’s been a decade now since losing several family members in a short time frame when I was in my early 20s, and the losses still hurt. I just recently started to address and grapple with the pain. To be honest, I feel very much like Naomi. I just don’t get the rejoicing part. I’d appreciate prayer for that, if anyone’s willing.
Tiffany, I can’t imagine what it was like to lose your loved ones in that season of your life. I’m praying with you, that God shows His tender love to you in this time of grieving and healing. May you know His presence in a real way like never before. May He give you assurance that His plans for you are good, and He is preparing you for gifts and blessings that are wonderful, even if they’re hard to see right now. And, I’m praying for endurance to keep walking a hard road while trusting He’s right there with you. Hugging you in my heart today!
One example of experiencing God’s kindness and care in a difficult season occurred when I left a job due to burnout. The Lord provided me with the time, support, and finances to take a good bit of time off to rest, learn, and heal.
Thank you, Joanna, for your story about the disappointment you experienced and how some of the things and relationships we have bring us pain and sorrow. Thank God we have been given Jesus to turn to in these times. One I am dealing with right now is realizing the truth about parts of my past. It’s only with Jesus that I have finally found joy in the mourning. I pray that all of us will keep on seeking Jesus together.
Thank you, Mary, for sharing how God is walking with you in your grief. Yes–I’m so grateful we can follow Jesus together as sisters! God bless you as He continues to do His work of healing in your life.
I am praying for you Tiffany. Whatever the source of our pain, the Father knows and cares. God bless you.
Praising for a specific UPS package chick. Amen!!!
Thank you for this devotion.
On March 23rd, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. My husband retired on March 31st, we had made plans to go visit grandkids at least every 3 months and plan remodeling projects. It didn’t turnout as such, but my husband has been taking care of me and taking me to treatment. Thank You God for Your kindness and care.
Father God, fill me with Your confident hope that, “Joy is on the way!”
Diane, I’m so sorry to hear about this difficult diagnosis and the changes it made to the sweet plans you had in place. I’m praying for your healing tonight and for God to give you endurance in your treatment process. And, I’m asking Him to sustain your hope–and fulfill your hopes–of time with family and home improvements you’ve been waiting for. He knows the desires of your heart and holds good gifts and plans for you. Thank you for encouraging all of our faith by the way you trust Him! Blessings on you, sister.
Hi Joanna, thank you for such a a timely word.If I did not know better, I would think that you had a private video camera recording me lol. I honestly feel like I heard from God today as I grapple my present life reality of being middle aged and living in my Mother’s home with her and her husband who I am not on speaking terms with whilst nursing a lot of old wounds that have been re-opened and battling depression.
Diane, thank you for your open heart to share your burdens today. I am praying with you, that God will meet you in these difficult circumstances where you’re feeling stress and pain.
Lord God, we pray your comfort will wrap around Diane as she cries out to you in her depression and struggle. Give her assurance that you are close. Mend what has been broken in her family. Help her to see your faithful kindness when hope and joy are hard to grasp. You know her needs, Lord, and we trust you will care for her in every detail. Thank you for your love–with You, all things are possible! Amen.
Greetings from the Caribbean.
Thank you for this devotion as it is so timely and so needed at this time in my life. I realised that I have been bitter because my life does not seems to be going I the direction I want. I realised I am struggling because God don’t seems to be working with my time line.
From today I will focus on the blessings and remember the story of Naomi. Although it is dark in the night, there is sunlight in the morning.
Karen, I’m so touched by your honesty with your struggle to hold on to hope, and to accept God’s timing in your situation. I’m praying with you for peace, a content spirit, and eyes to see God’s gifts to you as you wait for His help. I’m glad we can grow in faith together as we wait for the “morning”! Blessings on you, sister!