: to free from illusion; also : to cause to lose naive faith and trust
Disillusionment: the state of being disillusioned.
Have you ever experienced disillusionment?
I have. I went through an extremely painful time in the early years of my faith. I’ve mentioned it here in bits and pieces.
I doubted everything. I questioned everything. And my doubts and my questions tore me to shreds.
Recently, I heard Alicia Britt Chole speak at a conference. I had been looking forward to it for quite some time. Her DVD series Choices was one of the first things we studied in Bible study after I became a Christian, and it was eye-opening and heart-changing.
She spoke about disillusionment, particularly as it relates to the disciples and Jesus. The disciples were incredibly disillusioned with Jesus at times, despite the fact that they walked with Him. They were disillusioned with His timing, disillusioned with His ways, and disillusioned with His words.
One example of this disillusionment is in John 6. Jesus had just done a miracle with a young boy’s lunch, and the crowds were following Him around to see what else He could do, as well as to see if He might feed them again.
In the midst of this, Jesus shared this:
“I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.”
Imagine how you would have replied to this, had you been one of Jesus’ disciples. I think I would have stood there, thinking, “Huh? Jesus, that doesn’t even make sense!” Let’s read further to see what the response was.
Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining……..At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.
They complained. They were disillusioned. This isn’t what they were expecting from Jesus. They wanted a meal, and maybe a miraculous sign. They wanted a concrete explanation of what on earth Jesus was talking about. When they didn’t get any of those things, they left. Not everyone, but the passage says “many”.
Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”
What is the difference between the two groups of disciples in this story? Why did some turn away? Why did some stay?
Some responded to this difficult command by grumbling among themselves. They turned to each other for wisdom, and complained about this strange leader of theirs.
But others react to this statement of Jesus’ quite differently. They chose to look to Jesus. They knew enough about Him to chose to believe that there was nowhere else to go. They chose to take their questions to Him.
They asked their questions while looking into the safety of their Savior’s face.
So often when we start asking questions or having doubts in our faith, our tendency is to take our questions elsewhere. We turn away from God – out of fear, anger, hurt, or general disillusionment.
I did this. I did not take my questions to Jesus. I stopped reading the Bible. I stopped praying. The questions felt overwhelming, suffocating.
There is nothing wrong with questions and doubts. That’s something I love about the disciples’ example. They weren’t afraid to ask questions, even questions to which the answers seem obvious to us today. Jesus wasn’t afraid of or offended by their questions. He just wanted the disciples to bring their questions to Him.
Sometimes, Jesus would answer them right away; other times, He shared that His words would make sense eventually.
He says the same thing to us.
I’ve heard disillusionment described as gaining a reality. Through this period of questioning, I gained a new reality. A reality that trust is a choice. A reality that not everything is going to make sense in the moment. A reality that God is good, He is on my side, and that His plans are for my prosperity and hope.
Now I take my questions to my Savior. Not always in a timely manner, but my doubts no longer cause me to run. My questions no longer feel like abandonment. They no longer send me spiraling to my default setting. I am able to simply take them to Jesus and trust He will show me the answers, with time.
If you’d like to hear more about disillusionment, I highly recommend the CD “Real Life, Real Pain, and a Real God” from Alicia Britt Chole’s resources. You can also find many of her books on Amazon.com (I’m loving the book anonymous right now!).
Your questions are OK with God. Just remember to ask them to Him, to His face, and in the safety of His arms.