Recovering from Loss and Disappointment
by Juliet Canha
Facing loss and disappointment is an unavoidable part of our lives as we live in this fallen world. For many, the sting of having to deal with tremendous loss begins in childhood—experiencing the void of good things that should naturally be there and are not. I was raised in a single-parent family by my mother, so I understand firsthand the pain and disappointment associated with not having a stable father figure in the home. For years I watched my mother struggle to make a living, along with doing her very best to pick up the broken pieces of our lives.
During my childhood and early adult years, I wrestled with feelings of shame and inadequacy in connection with the dysfunction in my family. I had a friend that I was very close to in the 6th and 7th grades who disassociated from me because of my dad’s problems—I was devastated. As a teenager, I started dating a guy from church whose parents made him break up with me because they did not approve of him dating a girl who came from a broken home.
The pain and loss I felt over not having a “normal” home life was genuine and overwhelming. Fortunately, I got saved when I was eleven, and Jesus became an anchor for my soul in many ways. He showed me years later how He brought specific people into my life throughout my childhood to help fill the void of not having a stable father. You may have a similar story of dealing with feelings of loss and disappointment due to circumstances within your life not going the way you would have hoped.
In Genesis 16:4–13, we see that Hagar, Abraham and Sarah’s maid, found herself in unpleasant and broken circumstances (mostly out of her control). In verses four and five, it’s clear that Hagar made a few bad choices that contributed to her ordeal, but the Father reached out to her in her brokenness nonetheless. Hagar submitted herself to the Father’s leading and came to know Him personally as El Roi (the God who sees). So how would our own unexpected circumstances seem less overwhelming when we truly understand the Father as the just and merciful God who sees everything (see Hebrews 4:13; 6:10)?
Years later, in Genesis 21:14–21, we see God taking care of Hagar and her son, Ishmael, when his earthly father abandoned them. The Wilderness of Beersheba, where Hagar went away with Ishmael, represents a place of bareness, of having to start over. In verse 19, we see God opening Hagar’s physical eyes to see a tangible provision of water. In a similar matter, the Lord continues to open the eyes of our understanding to look at our circumstances differently—through the eyes of the Father’s provision and mercy.
I want to share with you some keys to recovering from loss and disappointment. Overcoming shame is one of those keys. Although there are always things we could have done better, the results of our losses are not because we were not good enough. The enemy fiercely desires to bring shame and attach his lies to our unresolved painful memories of rejection, betrayal, and abandonment. Some of his lies might sound like: It was my fault. I am such a loser. If only I would have done (fill in the blanks), then everything would be okay. I am all alone. No one cares. Does any of that sound familiar to you? We must break the agreement with the voice of shame and send away the lies of the enemy.
Another key is overcoming bitterness. It is common for the enemy to deceive our minds into justifying our bitterness towards those who have hurt us. We must resist this temptation and love mercy, while we wait for God’s justice.
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
To do justly is standing up for what is right but loving mercy at the same time. Humility is agreeing with what God says about us and our circumstances.Another tactic of the enemy is to blame God for our losses—“God, how could You allow this? Why didn’t You stop it from happening? God must not love me.” Instead of shaking our fist at God, we should seek to have faith like the persistent widow in Luke 18:1–8. Her persistence is what proved her humble heart of faith in God’s goodness and justice. The way we handle loss and disappointment is a real test of our faith.
There are different ways one might cope with unresolved pain, such as denial and dissociation or blame shifting and projecting. Denial and dissociation happen when we stuff the pain, pretend it’s not there, and shift into a survival mode. The problem is that our hearts become hard in a relentless effort to numb the pain and escape from reality. On the other hand, blame shifting and projecting our pain onto others will leave a trail of more broken relationships.
To receive healing, we must lay down our walls of self-protection, break agreement with inner vows, and invite Jesus into our places of pain. Here is a quote from Bob Sorge: “When we make inner vows, we think we are protecting ourselves, but instead we are trapping ourselves in a pattern of behavior that only binds us to the bitterness of the past.”
Another vital key is forgiveness—without forgiveness, our hearts cannot heal. True forgiveness involves fully releasing those who have hurt us into God’s hands, letting go of our shame through forgiving ourselves, and repenting for not trusting in Him as our Judge.
Breaking agreement with lies and choosing to believe what God says about us and our circumstances are necessary for complete freedom. In dealing with feelings of abandonment and rejection later on in my adult life, the Lord showed me that He always has a table prepared for me in the presence of those who continue to hurt me by their insensitive choices. God has filled His table with everything I need to strengthen my heart in His unfailing love and faithfulness (see Psalm 23:5).
Several years ago when I was hurting over feelings of rejection, I asked God what He thought about me. It was so sweet when He led me to 1 Peter 2:4 which says, “Rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious.” He showed me that the rejection that I was experiencing from people who I genuinely cared about was not my fault; there was nothing I could have done to stop it, and it wasn’t in my power to fix it. Those words from His table helped to fill my soul with His peace.
Is the enemy attempting to rob from you the peace of knowing that El Roi (the God who sees) is with you and desires to provide everything you need to recover from the loss and disappointment in your life?
Beloved, dwelling on negative emotions creates significant obstacles to the healing of our souls. There is no reason for us to stay chained to feelings of loss and disappointment. Father God has provided a clear path of recovery for us, based on the finished work of what Jesus provided for us when He carried our sorrows and died on the cross in our place (see Isaiah 53:4–6). Hope and freedom are yours, in Jesus’ name!
In what area of life are you seeking more hope and freedom?
For insight and advice from one man’s healing journey, we recommend Inheritance: Clinging to God’s Promises in the Midst of Tragedy, by Corey Russell. Corey shares how he clung to five psalms after the loss of his son, helping us see how God heals His people, makes us into shepherds after His own heart, and calls us to believe in the One who turns the worst circumstances into a profound and eternal inheritance. Learn more>>
Juliet Canha moved to Kansas City in 2002 with her husband, Randy, and three children (who are now adults) to participate in ministries at the International House of Prayer. While at IHOPKC, Juliet has ministered in deliverance and inner-healing counseling and has taught spiritual wholeness discipleship classes and seminars. She also provides friendship-group leadership as a district pastor, oversees the Compassion team (which is a Hospital Deacon ministry), and leads the Journey Together Forerunner Church Women’s Ministries.
Juliet is also a licensed minister and a certified Christian counselor. One of Juliet’s passions is sending out monthly blogs to her friends, family, and those she’s ministered to through the years. She also loves going on nature walks with her husband and spending quality time with her family and friends. Juliet is the author of an inner-healing workbook called Spiritual Wholeness and Emotional Comfort and recently co-authored a discipleship and inner-healing manual called Spiritual Wholeness Toolkit.