When God Disappoints

            Disappointment can be a heart-breaking, soul-troubling, gut-wrenching reality.  It happens when our hopes are not fulfilled, our dreams do not come to pass, and our desires are not satisfied.  When it comes in the form of a trust that is broken, a friendship that is betrayed, or the lack of a response from someone upon whom we thought we could rely, the disappointment can be utterly devastating.  In response, we tend to put distance between ourselves and those who disappoint us in order to minimize the possibility of experiencing this kind of pain in the future.

            Recently, my wife reminded me of a question I raised about God and disappointment:  What do we do when God disappoints us?  I dare say that if our relationship with God is something more than just mere acquaintance, the chances are very good that we have been disappointed by God.  The answer to our prayer is not what we hoped for; the intervention by God that we so desperately want never comes to pass; the burden that is becoming unbearable is neither lifted nor lightened; or the healing we seek never happens the way we expect it to happen, if it happens at all.  So what do we do when God disappoints us?

            The answer came for me after wrestling with the death of my 21 year-old daughter, Kimberly.  She died on July 13, 2001 of a viral infection that attacked her heart.  It happened just two weeks after she preached her initial sermon.  That experience taught me that when God disappoints us, our best response is to keep trusting Him and keep following Him.

            Brennan Meaning in his book, Ruthless Trust says “Trust in God does not presume that God will intervene”.  And it may be that we are most disappointed by God when He does not intervene.

            I learned while traveling through the “valley of the shadow of death” created by Kimberly’s death that God is free to be God.  Who God is, is not determined by whether or not God responds to our needs, our prayers or our desires in the way that we want Him to respond.  God is not bound by the limits we impose upon Him nor are His answers confined to responding positively to our expressed wishes and desires.  God is only bound by the limits He imposes upon Himself and what He, in His infinite wisdom, knows to be the best possible response in any given situation; even if that response results in our present disappointment with Him.  I have learned that because we are disappointed with how God responds to our petitions, it does not mean that God does not care about us or about our plight.  It is God Himself, who speaks through the prophet Isaiah and says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways…” (Isaiah 55:8-NIV)  Maybe it is in the depth of God’s caring that He is aware that the present disappointment can lead to greater blessings on the other side of that disappointment.  And, I have discovered that in the depths of our disappointment with God, God remains with us.  After Kimberly’s death, it was painful being in the presence of the God who “allowed” her to die.  So the distance between me and God appeared to grow.  But at some point, in the midst of that distance and pain, I discovered that as much as I wanted Kimberly to live, I needed God to be very present with me even more; even at those times when I did not want Him to be there.  It is possible for our disappointment with God to be transformed into a much closer relationship with the very God whom we feel has disappointed us.                      

 

 

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59 comments to When God Disappoints

  • Thank you for visiting our website and reading my blog. I am so very sorry that your life has been filled with so much hurt and pain, so much suffering and sorrow that you have concluded that God kills, God never heals, God never does miracles, and God never answers prayer. Simply because we have such devastating experiences in this life does not mean that they are a reflection of who God is and what God does. I can only say that I hope you will discover and come to know the God that I have come to know as the result of my having to go through the reality of the valley of the shadow of death.

  • my husband and I tried for years to have a child and did not, I felt disappointed in God as if he had let me down knowing he has the power to do anything After reading your article I can truly say God’s ways are not our ways nor his thought ours. I was richly bless.

  • I am so sorry that you don’t know the God that I know!!!!

  • nne

    I feel worthless in this life,I always beg God for wisdom,please pray along with me.I wrote a particular exam,i was scared because I don’t know the course,after writing it I believed God to help me to at least pass the paper,but it didn’t happen.so I felt God disappointed me,I don’t know how I’m going to read the course again. I feel like taking my own life.

  • Thank you for your response to the blog “When God Disappoints”. You are not alone in feeling that God has disappointed you. Our belief in God does not come with God’s promise that God will do everything we ask Him to do. And when He doesn’t we are disappointed. But that does not change the fact that God has a plan for your life that is far greater than you can imagine. As it happens we do not always know that plan or how that plan will be accomplished in our lives. I have learned through some very painful experiences that God has used my disappoints in Him to get me to places I never dreamed of. Because He disappoints us does not mean we cannot trust Him. What we embrace is a reality called faith and faith is not about knowing; faith is about trusting: it is about trusting when we do not and cannot know; it is about trusting, not because things work out the way we want them to work out but because we trust the one who ultimately has our best interest at heart and desperately desires the best possible good for us. At this moment in your life, you are being called upon the trust: to trust that God is Good; to trust that God is faithful; to trust that God wants to shower you blessings far greater than you can imagine. But that cannot happen without trusting God no matter what happens along the way.

  • Ricardo

    Firstly my sympathy for your loss, there are no words to express what it feels like to lose a family member I know.

    Trust is something that is earned not simply given. If you freely give trust without the other person earning it you end up being used and abused, We see that all the time in our world. And if God doesn’t answer prayer,heal or intervene on our behalf then is he really a caring father? Having children with a woman doesn’t make you a father it makes you a sperm donor, a father is someone who is in his childs life helping them,answering them when times get tough and protecting them from troubles.

    As for knowing what’s on the other side of disappointment I know what’s there. At first you ask why didn’t God answer then comes self examination then self hate because its your fault he didn’t answer. Then a purge of anything perceived to be sinful then fear of doing anything wrong that will cause God not to answer you until you can’t take the constant self hate,purging and fear and you ask out loud “why are you doing this to me God why won’t you answer”

  • Isabella

    Pastor, I feel that I’ve lost my way. I’ve been disappointed my whole life. I’m wondering if God doesn’t care for me. I feel unwelcome in his house. Is it because I’ve gone astray? I don’t know what to do. It doesn’t feel Luke he’s listening anymore. I went to church and I don’t feel like I once did. Have I done something wrong? Pastor, does God hate? I’m losing my way.I don’t know if I belong in the church. I feel nothing. I pray and not just for my own well being. I keep telling my self if its gods wish then it will happen. I don’t know if that’s the case anymore.I feel lost and confused and fearful. My question for you Pastor,I suppose, Is it too late for me? Is it okay to be confused about whether or not my relationship with God is real?

  • Isabella

    Im scared pastor. I feel my relationship with God is thinning. Or that maybe it was never there. I’ve been dissapointed my whole life. I pray. I’m often faithful. I’m in a dark place that maybe God has given up on me. I feel undeserving. Im prayin but i feel hes not listening.Is it too late for me pastor is what I’m trying to ask.I’m questioning God pastor. Something I thought I would NEVER do. I feel like I’m betraying God saying I out loud. I need advice Pastor.thank you

  • Thank you for taking to the time read my blog. The truth is I can only tell you about the God I have come to know. There is a very good chance that what you think God is feeling about you, disappointment, His having given up on you, it being too late for you; these may be more about what you feel about yourself then what God feels or thinks about you. There is a line in the 8th chapter of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, the 38th verse, “..nothing can separate us from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus…” Whatever dark place you are in or have been in, whatever disappointment you feel you are or have been, however undeserving you may think yourself to be: God loves you right now, at this very moment with a passion that you cannot even begin to grasp; and He was, is and will always be with you. It is the greatrest promise He makes to all humankind. He loves you not because you are perfect and good and do all the right things: He loves you because you are His child and no matter what you do or fail to do, nothing can change that because you are too precious to Him just as you are. And by the way, you really think that God is so fragile that your questions disturb Him: there are so many things about God you cannot know without raising questions. Just remember: God desires to be with you so much more than you desire to be with Him.

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