Some days you dance and some days you cry. This past year has been filled with both for me. Many of you know my story of infertility and the two early miscarriages Zack and I experienced 6 years ago. It has been a long journey, but God has been so faithful to give us peace, comfort, and even joy in the midst of our unfulfilled longings.
But as we approached our 8 year anniversary a few months back, the most unexpected thing happened – I found out I was pregnant.
This news completely shocked Zack and me and we couldn’t believe it. My heart was filled with a mixture of emotions. Each day that went by felt like a small victory. I had never made it past 6.5 weeks of pregnancy with my early miscarriages, but this time I did. Zack and I went in for our 8-week appointment and heard the most beautiful little heartbeat measuring right on track.
But sadly, this joy wouldn’t last for much longer.
We found out at 11 weeks that the heartbeat had stopped. With broken and heavy hearts, Zack and I left the doctor’s office and headed home to grieve our new reality. The days slowly ticked by and were filled with tears, prayers, and questions. I’ve wrestled with God’s plan and asked Him “why?!” But as I’ve struggled and mourned and battled with my emotions, I have also been deeply comforted by the same God who promised to never leave me or forsake me.
In the midst of my sorrow and grief, I know God is with me. I know He cares about me and loves me. And even in the midst of my confusion and pain, He is restoring my broken heart to a place of wholeness once again. Psalm 18:2 has been my anchor these past few months: “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
I know I’m not the only one wrestling with disappointment and unfulfilled longings right now.
Each one of us faces this in our lives at some point or another. It’s part of being human in a fallen and broken world. Maybe you’re wrestling with singleness and longing for marriage. Or suffering from ongoing physical health challenges. Or longing for a family member to know Christ. Maybe wrestling with the body and looks that God gave you. Maybe wishing you had one good, close friend. Or not getting the job or the school that you really prayed for. The list goes on.
We’re all on a unique journey and it looks different for each one of us. The question isn’t “will I experience disappointment?” but rather, “how can I still find joy in the midst of my disappointment when it strikes?”
This past year, God has been teaching me a lot about finding joy in the midst of disappointment and unfulfilled longings. I have learned that true joy and real suffering can exist at the same time. I want to share with you the 3 biggest ways that God has helped me to find joy in the midst of my struggles, and I hope these truths will equip you to find true joy in the midst of yours as well.
1. Humbly Submit to God’s Story for Your Life.
Discontentment and friction often arise in our hearts when we forget who holds the pen to our story. When we look around and begin comparing our story to others, we lose sight of the fact that God has every person on a different path. His timing is not the same for all of us. His plan is tailor-made for our individual journey and for our greater good.
I wrestled with this deeply as I would watch friends and family easily get pregnant all around me while I was struggling to carry a pregnancy past 6 weeks. God gently worked in my heart and reminded me through His word that my life story is His to write. My life story is different than everybody else’s and God has a good plan for me.
I had to remind myself of truths from His Word like, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me…” (Isaiah 46:9b). And “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever…” (Psalm 138:8). Surrendering the reigns of our story to God is the first step toward true joy.
2. Trust that God’s Plan is for Your Good.
We live in a time where “good” means getting what you want. The “good life” is focused on personal happiness and making all of our dreams come true. But God’s version of good is the complete opposite of this. It isn’t surface-level and as flimsy as our mood. God knows that true and lasting satisfaction can only come from becoming more like Christ and by loving God more fully. Our circumstances are not the defining factor of our joy and hope. God’s version of “good” might look like allowing challenging circumstances into our lives that serve to remind us of our need for Him.
Psalm 119:68 says, “You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.” And Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Even in the midst of the most trying circumstances, we can find true joy in our relationship with Christ.
3. Serve God Wholeheartedly Right Now.
Many of us struggle with the weight of our disappointments so much that they become a barrier keeping us from moving forward. We begin to view our identity and life through the lens of our unfulfilled longings rather than our identity as a daughter of God. God wants us to lay our desires at the foot of His altar and offer them as a sacrifice of worship to Him. He wants to use us to build His Kingdom in unique ways right now.
Over the past 8 years, God has helped me to reframe my mindset about what it means to be “fruitful” as a woman. He hasn’t given me children of my own, so I have more time and energy to pour into the lives of young women in my community and through GirlDefined. Rather than dwelling on what I don’t have (children) I am striving to be faithful with what I do have (discipleship opportunities).
Regardless of my season of life, Matthew 6:20 has been an anchor for my heart, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
God has a unique and beautiful story for each one of our lives.
His story is tailor-made for each of us and will look different than those around us. Sometimes our story is filled with joy and celebration, and sometimes it’s filled with tears and grief. But no matter what comes our way, we can confidently put our trust in the Lord because He is the author of our story.
When we fully trust God to write His story for our lives, we can look around and genuinely celebrate what He is doing in the lives of those around us. We don’t have to compare and despair, but rather joyfully celebrate His gifts and blessings that He gives to others.
Our hearts will be most content when we remind ourselves that we are not on this earth to build our Kingdom but to build God’s. And each of our unique life stories and journeys is a beautiful part of God’s greater and grander plan.
If there’s anything God has taught me these past 8 years it’s this:
True joy and fulfillment don’t come from getting what you want, but from surrendering your entire life to what God wants and trusting that His plan is truly good. I know the journey isn’t over. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know the One who holds my future. And in Him my heart finds peace and rest.
I would love to hear from you below.
- In ways are you having to trust God with unfulfilled longings in your own life right now?
- Of the 3 truths I shared above, which one do you need to embrace more wholeheartedly?