Disappointment With God

NEWSMINER FAITH ARTICLE OCTOBER 2019

     Disappointment, we’ve all experienced it.  Disappointment with a spouse, business partner, a grown child; even God.  Years ago, my wife and I started Journey Church in the Regal Cinemas Theater and for twelve long years hauled all of our sound equipment in and out of that facility.  Most of the time it was fine, but there were moments in the extreme Fairbanks temperatures when it was very frustrating.  I’ll never forget coming out of our house on a Sunday morning and despite being plugged in all night, our box truck with all of our equipment would still not start on that –45 degree morning.  I was so disappointed and angry with God I remember yelling at Him, “You parted the Red Sea!  You can certainly start this stupid truck!”  He did not start the truck.  It was one of the few times when we had church without any of our equipment.  Disappointment with others of course, but disappointment with God?   Is that even allowed?
       Yes, the honest believer will admit there are moments that we are disappointed with God.  I’ve been in the ministry for decades and I’ve heard it many times coupled with tears.  Why didn’t God heal my child?  Why did God sit on his hands while I was sexually abused as a kid?  Legitimate questions, deep wounds.     I remember as a young minister I visited a man who was disappointed with God, even angry.  He began to pour out his pain.  I immediately jumped in to defend God and offer good theological answers.  Afterwards my boss, an older, wiser minister said, “Derek, God is big enough to defend himself; just be present in their pain.”  I’ve never forgotten that. 
What are some keys on how to handle disappointment with God?
      PRAY THE PSALMS.  David experienced disappointment with God but never gave up on Him.  Use the Bible’s “prayer book” to guide your thinking.   Even Jesus cried from the cross, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”  Both a summary of his human side’s emotions and a quote from Psalms 22.     
      CHALLENGE OUR EXPECTATIONS.  Too many American Christians view God like a genie who will fulfill our every desire for comfort and blessing.  Read Hebrews chapter 11 (the great hall of fame of faith) and honestly ask yourself how many of God’s followers were called to easy, comfortable lives?  God’s callings in the Bible involved discomfort, risk, danger and even death from persecution.  Author John Piper even refers to adversity as the “hidden smile of God.”  Out of the most painful moments of our lives God often brings the greatest good.  The cross is the ultimate example.  Out of the painful rejection of Jesus comes the means by which we can be saved!
      AVOID COMPARISON.  A couple days ago our 11-year-old Henry was celebrating in our kitchen because his grandparents had sent him $10.  In the middle of his celebration his older brother Tony said, “Wow, Grammy and Pappa sent me $30!”   Henry immediately went from celebration to disappointment.   Now Tony was just messing with his younger brother; he had also received $10.  It’s easy to be disappointed when we think God is doing more for others than for us.  Know that God works with each person individually.  He is doing in your life what is for your best and His glory.  Try to celebrate with others when God blesses them.  Comparison kills your contentment.
PERSEVERE.  Time and growing in maturity can help with our disappointment.  I think of a man in our church who tells about praying fervently as a child for his mom’s life.  Despite his prayers she died.  His disappointment and anger with God was intense for a long time.  But eventually he stepped back from his own perspective and looked at the situation from a different perspective.  She was suffering terribly.  He moved from thinking “God took her FROM me, to God took her TO Him.”  As he matured he still missed his mom but since she was a Christian he knows she is better off in heaven and someday he will see her again.  In the story of Job and his many afflictions he never receives an answer to his painful questions, but instead God shows up.  For Job and for us THAT is enough.  God walks with us in our pain.  Let me close with a quote from Charles Spurgeon, “When we cannot trace His hand we must trust His heart.”  The hand of God's sovereignty can be hard to see; but his heart is fully revealed in the cross of Jesus Christ.  Disappointed, sometimes.  Devoted, always.   Faithfulness is our calling.
Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church