From the moment Pam picked up the phone, I knew something was wrong.
For months, Pam had been waiting to hear some good news on a new opportunity and as she said, the perfect opportunity. Pursuing a new career wholeheartedly, she was so disappointed when she received the news that she had been passed over for another candidate.
Devout in her faith, Pam had prayed diligently and believed that God had opened doors and ordained this new venture just for her. She was not only significantly disappointed, she was also greatly disillusioned that God had not opened the door she expected. In fact, as far as Pam could see, God had not opened any door. She was confused that she could have been so mistaken about the plan God had revealed to her.
After she vented her frustration for a few minutes, I suggested she thank God for this very moment. My comment perplexed Pam.
"Be thankful for something I wanted to happen did not happen?" She asked. "Yes, Pam, thankful because God is either planning to provide something better for you or protecting you from something that will bring harm to you" I replied.
As a parent, this is a conversation I have often with my sons.
Now, when they look back, they see how this principle has played out in their own lives: the sports team they didn't make, the girl that broke their heart or the job they did not get.
All of those situations are orchestrated by God so that we will arrive at the exact place and plan that He has chosen for those who seek Him and walk in His will.
When we discover God's perfect plan, we can see how His provision and protection provided the opportunity.
Consider 3 ways to strengthen your trust in God in times of disappointment:
1. Believe that God loves you and wants His very best for you.
God created us, gifted us uniquely and has a perfect plan for each of us. He is the author of our story He knows what happens in the next chapter. He orchestrates events to help us arrive at the perfect plan He has for us when the page is flipped.
In Isaiah 40:26, we read,
"Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing."
We are not forgotten by God in our disappointment. He knows exactly where we are and He is simply ensuring that His best becomes ours.
2. Surrender your own desires to His will for you.
It is impossible for God's perfect plan to be revealed to you while seeking your own path. As a young girl, my mother tucked me in each night and as she did, she symbolically reached out her hand and asked me to place my worries in her hand. She explained that she would carry them for me and that I need not continue to carry them.
She asked me to surrender to her the concerns of my heart. As I grew older, she taught me to surrender the concerns of my heart into the hand of God and rest in HIs peace. With an open hand, surrendered to the Lord, He is able to fill it with what he believes will be the abundant life in Him.
3. Trust the promises of His Word.
God has promised again and again in His Word, that He will never leave, nor forsake us. Times of disappointment are opportunities to be refined by fire to be more like Him in every way. In Proverbs 3:5-6, we are encouraged to "trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding and He will make your paths straight."
With all of its twists and turns, one way streets and seemingly dead ends, God is leading us to the opportunity where we will be best used by Him and the place where He will prepare us to live and worship Him for eternity. We miss His best for us when we do not trust Him, but instead, believe in our own way.
Many months after that phone call with Pam, we met for lunch for her to tell me about the unbelievable opportunity she had been offered. She was so thankful that she decided to trust that God was providing her something better.
As it turned out, the position she had been hoping for a few months earlier had already been eliminated in a merger transaction. She would have been unemployed, and living alone in a new city where she would have relocated. Pam's mother had become critically ill during these days and Pam would have been far away and unable to care for her needs as she would have liked.
Of course, only God new Pam's needs and He protected her from an opportunity that would have ultimately been more disappointing than not receiving the offer at all.
In times of deep disappointment, it is wise to remember that God is either protecting us from something not in our best interest or preparing to provide something better.
Believe in his plan, surrender your own plan and trust in the path he sets before you.
Dee Ann Turner is the Vice President, Enterprise Social Responsibility for Chick-fil-A, Inc and the author of It's My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or her Website.